Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Good Corpse/Bad Corpse - Jack Goodman

When I started this topic, it actually went by the snappy title of 'Good Zombie, Crap Zombie' but it took me a grand total of one post to realise that if I were to post about one of my favourite members of Undead society, Mr Jack Goodman, I may actually be entering into a world of pain amongst the hardcore Zombie fraternity. Therefore it was with great pleasure that I was able to go all George 'Let me just fix that' Lucas and re-name the original post to the wonderfully, painfully pun-tastic 'Good Corpse, Bad Corpse'. Of course now I may have to face the wrath of the hardcore necrophilliac fraternity, but truth be told they tend to be somewhat less vocal than your average Romero fan.

So, after the wonderfully inept zombie stylings of Steve Coogan, we move onto perhaps the greatest undead makeup EVER to be committed to film. Yes, yes, David Naughton transformed into an actual werewolf, yes Brian Glover tells his 'Yoonighted Nay-shuns' joke and yes Jenny Agutter is deflowered by a Yank. But for me the most underrated aspect of 1981's 'An American Werewolf in London' has to be the dearly departed Jack Goodman, as played by Fear on Friday regular Griffin Dunne. The genius that is Rick Baker gave us not one, not two, but THREE of the best 'zombie' make ups out there today.
There's Fresh JackStinky Jack Rotten Jack and each one delivers the goods big time. when Dunne met with John Landis for the role, Landis would repeatedly question whether Dunne was at all claustrophobic, obviously envisaging the length of time he would be spending with his face in plaster. Presumably Dunne had not seen Tourist Trap at this point in his life.

It took five hours to apply the make up, and Dunne says that at the end of every day when he tore it from his face Baker would look on in horror as his amazing work was destroyed. Though he wasn't claustrophobic, Dunne did have some trouble adjusting to the makeup. He said he felt terribly depressed when confronted with what his face would no doubt resemble had he met some terrible fate.While not great for Dunne this speaks highly indeed of the work Baker was performing. Griffins performance however never once hinted at his inner feelings as Jack has to be the most upbeat member of the undead ever, except for these two of course"hello!'

and it his ever chipper performance which lends to the pitch black tone of the films humour as well as adding some humanity to the proceedings. Look at these scenes for example, where despite being one of the undead and despite David being a werewolf, his main concern seems to be not upsetting his best bud too much. What a guy!

In a deleted scene Jack asks David to pull his finger

As with alot of the actual movie, it's the little touches that reinforce our belief in Jack as a talking cadaver. The flapping chunk of flesh which wobbles throughout his first appearance in the hospital, which had everyone in my school playground swearing blind they had seen the toast. slide down his throat. The rotten dentures Baker created for Stinky Jack. You never really see them, but the absence of bright pearly whites just sells the effect more (I'm looking at you smooth tummy zombie!). And when David meets Jack for the last time, Jack has just one thin chunk of flesh left over his teeth, yet when that flesh rises at one point, you know he's smiling.

Jack Goodman - dead, stinking and cursed. Yet still takes the time to stop and smell the flowers.

He's always smiling.

Lets sit back now and enjoy some of the Goodman boy's finer moments.

Psych-o-matic for the people!

I created this little maniac maker last year, and some of you may have seen it over at Freddy in Space when Johnny was good enough to make a post about it. I'm currently working on an update as there are a few more psycho's I'd like to throw on there, but in the meantime please have a little fun with it and create your very own super psycho-inbred-undead-cannibal-serial killin' bastard son of a hundred maniacs! Click on the image to get started.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Hidden Horror - After Hours

Just a small clip here, but the first time I saw Martin Scorceses quirky comedy After Hours this little scene really surprised me. The movie had already ensured there was a general feeling of unease about the proceedings as we follow Griffin Dunnes character into a late night rendezvous in the heart of Eighties SoHo. Everyone he meets is just that little bit off kilter, and as he waits for his date (a never kookier/creepier Rosanna Arquette) to return from her shower he hears whispering from within the supposedly empty apartment. The scene reminded me a little of another of my favourite creepfests, Exorcist 3.
Once again, the scene really does play better within the realms of the actual movie but if you're anything like me and love this often overlooked little masterpiece then this is a nice little reminder of one of the many fantastic little touches it has to offer. If you have never seen this movie, I really urge you to check it out. It has it's fair share of detractors, but I absolutely love it and it's great to see Dunne on leading man duties.

Friday, 12 February 2010

New Friday 13th Director fired after controversial 'Jason speaks' debacle!

The director of the next Friday the 13th installment has been fired after just one day on the job! The new director, David Kellogg, was announced just days ago on horror website '' and said he was keen to do something special for the 13th appearance of Jason. But apparently execs weren't too enamoured with his idea of allowing Jason to speak for the first time EVER in a Friday 13th flick. But it wasn't the idea of a talking Voorhees that had the studios sweating, it was Kellogs choice to voice the legendary backwoods serial killer - Rosie Perez!
"I knew I had to pull all the stops out for F13 part 13" explains Kellog from his ranch just outside of Cardiff, Wales "and I figured having Jason speak in his mother's voice would just about blow the fan's minds. I remember as a youngster watching Halloween for the first time I literally soiled myself when we saw Norman speaking in his grandmothers voice! I mean, if it works for Coppola why not for me?" Kellog then went on to demonstrate he knew just as much about human biology as he did about horror movies "I mean, yes Jason's creepy but we all know his Schtick by now - Stripy sweater, cannibal, rides a pony- how can we give the audience something new, something fresh? Something that will make them explode with excitement? I mean literally explode, with bits of them flying around the theatre and everything?! And that can happen, it happened with The Jazz Singer when Jolson spoke for the first time, people just spontaneously combusted! Fact!! So how do you bring that level of excitement to a modern audience with their fancy new gimmicks like '3D' and 'Full Color'? Three words my friend- Rosie Perez!"

Perez had wanted to work with Kellogg since she first saw what many critics consider his opus, the 1991 classic 'Cool as Ice'. "Oh yeah" continues Perez, star of such powerful movies as 'Do The Right Thing', 'Fearless' and 'It could Happen To You', "The minute David approached me I was on board 110%. I mean Jason's a shapeshifter, why couldn't he have a woman's voice. He was a woman for most of the first movie, and that part in A New Beginning when his face splits open and we see a new face growing inside!! Classic stuff."

Unfortunately it was never to be and Kellogg was asked to leave the project soon after announcing his plans. However Platinum Dunes know a creative genius when they see one and have asked Kellog to direct the upcoming remake of their upcoming thriller 'Fiasco Heights', hoping they can get his version in cinemas before the originals 2011 release date.

As for the next installment of Friday the 13th, new director Charles Kanganis has revealed he would like to see the series return to it's TV show roots and make a film about a haunted antique shop. No word yet on Perez's involvement.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Good Corpse/Bad Corpse

Just as there are good horror movies and there are bad horror movies, the genre which tends to produe the largest amount of bad is often Zombie movies. For every good zombie flick there are countless, countless bad ones. As if to illustrate this there are around 42 zombi 3's out there, and not one of them is good. I've sat and 'enjoyed' most of them of course, but would be hard pressed to describe them as good. George Romero's Day of the Dead has one remake and one unofficial sequel under it's belt. How many of these are any good? NONE! Night of the Living Dead has two remakes (One good, one bad. If you've seen them you know which is which.) not to mention a spectacularly misguided survivors cut. Zombie films are like the undead themselves, a spectacularly sprawling mass of shambling, bumbling stinkiness.
However even when a zombie movie is good, or at least 'entertaining', there's always the chance that the zombie's themselves may fail in instilling you with any sense of dread. Sometimes it's budget, sometimes a lack of artistic vision, sometimes your zombie extras just don't tuck their shirt in.

More often than not your shambling undead can make or break your picture. The Italians had the best idea, throwing as much filth and decay at the screen as they could, though the fantastic work of Gianetto De Rossi actually helped elevate things beyond butchers shop meets pastry face. When I was young I always though that zombies should look like rotting skeletons clawing their way from the grave, thanks in no small part to movies like Creepshow and the 1972 Tales From the Crypt movie.
I had never seen any 'proper' Zombie movies at that point, and so what I had seen in these movies is what stuck in my head. Obviously I've since watched many Zombie movies and have come to appreciate the finer points of Zombies such as those in Romero's movies. Zombies as more than gore soaked oogie-boogie monsters, representative of some aspect of society, something not possible when you're looking at a car park full of Halloween Decorations. This sliding scale of decay below shows that my childhood views on what makes a more effective zombie doesn't always equal a good zombie film. While my personal favourite, 'Return of the Living Dead', does top the scale, there's no real way you can justify the original Dawn falling behind even Zombie Lake with it's skinnydipping netball team and gumming Nazi zombies.
Let's celebrate those zombies, both good and crap, in a returning feature I like to call 'Good Zombie/Crap Zombie'. Sometimes I might highlight a great zombie makeup, sometimes a poor zombie makeup put to stunning effect in a good movie, but to begin I think we'll start safely in the arena of 'crap' zombie. And so i present to you quite possibly the worst zombie I have ever seen -
The Partridge Zombie
(Cooganus Corpsus)

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Hidden Horror - Hung, Drawn & Quartered

Sometimes you can be watching something from outside of the horror genre when 'crash, bang, wallop!' a little slice of horror just ups and slaps you in the kisser. I love these little surprises, and when they appear out of nowhere like that they are all the more powerful. As in real life when something sudden and violent occurs, it can be a real jolt ,knocking you sideways. Obviously it goes without saying that it's alot safer when this is happening to someone on screen, but the overall feeling, that little rush of I don't know what occurs and triggers something. This is basically alot to do with horror movies in general and why they are so popular, the difference being of course that you know what to expect when you sit down in front of a Horror movie, so the thrill comes from the anticipation of this feeling.

The clip I have included here is from the Helen Mirren mini series 'Elizabeth I', which till this point had been your usual Costume Drama affair, with it's plots, politics and treachery. then Bam! these poor guys are off to be 'Hung, Drawn and Quartered', a phrase I was familiar with but had never really given much thought to. Obviously the power of this scene is completely removed by presenting it in isolation like this, but if I asked you to sit through a four hour mini series just to see 45 seconds of old school Elizabethan torture I may find myself on the chopping block.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Quiz - You Have Been Watching

I don't think there's any genre of movie which has the character's watching TV as much as in Horror movies. I'm not sure if it's a deliberate attempt by the film maker to establish a connection with the viewer, to make the events on screen resonate a little more with the audience, "Hey, I watch TV! Holy shit! That could be me! I'm doomed!" Perhaps watching TV is up there with pre marital sex and drinking as one of the big no no's of horror and we just haven't realised yet!

Or perhaps Horror Movie makers just like to have a little fun with their in-jokery, a little nod and a wink to the audience, which is why Funny Games and Henry are not in this list despite the 'protagonists' in those movies enjoying a little down time in front of the box. Those movies had a real point to their inclusion and were communicating something to us the audience. I also don't have them on DVD so couldn't get the images...

Anyway, the challenge here is to identify which horror movies these moments of chillin' away from the killin' are taken from. Bonus points if you can name what's showing on the screen.

Full credit of course to Johnny at Freddy in Space who often runs quizzes like this, which I love so much I stole the idea right from him. Cheers Johnny!