Evil Dead 2013 : Succesful or Shameful?

As a huge horror fan, I am immediately skeptical on remakes. However, when I heard of the cult classic Evil Dead being remade, I was pretty excited. The original is one of my favorite films and even had some of the original cast and crew involved in it. It seemed promising.,.. but I was DEAD wrong.

Much like the original, the setting for this film was in an old cabin in the woods. It differs with the reason of the group being in the woods. In the original, the group of 20-somethings are there for recreation and relaxation but in the remake, directed by Fede Alvarez, the group is there to support Mia (Jane Levy) in kicking her drug habit. Much like the original, the group includes Mia, her 2 friends Eric(Lou Taylor Pucci) and Oliva (Jessica Lucas), her brother David (Shiloh Ferandez) and his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). Mia and her brother have a very turbulent history (wow, how shocking) so when David shows up, it’s a revelation for Mia. Unlike the original, the cabin in the remake is not a random cabin, it is one that has been in the family for years. After they arrive, things start to go downhill.

The cabin is not what Mia and David remember, in fact, it’s in terrible shape. The group assumes teenagers have taken it’s toll on the place but when they smell a foul stench coming from the basement, they discover something completely different. It appears that whoever occupied the cabin before was into some type of witchcraft and the remainder of their ceremonies (which included animal sacrifices) were left behind. What’s also left behind is a strange package that is wrapped in a garbage bag and barbed wire. They try to clean up and ignore the previous tenants and move on with their goal.

Olivia warns David that this is not Mia’s first time at the rodeo. Mia has tried to sober up before and gave up midway through. This time, they make a vow to not give in to her instability with the withdrawal symptoms and see the whole process through. In the meantime, Eric has opened up the book, read the content and unknowingly unleashed something beyond their wildest nightmares and as predicted, Mia freaks out (due to her withdrawal symptoms), steals a car and disappears in the woods where she begins to see the consequences of Eric’s actions.

Let me be completely honest here, if you’ve ever seen the original you know that this is where s%^t hits the fan. The book Eric was reading out of was the necronomicon (book of the dead) and anyone who reads this book is pretty much doomed. Eric reading out of the book has released something unnatural and it has “attached to Mia’s soul like a leech.” This is about where the interesting parts end.

It saddens me to say that the film had no real plot besides that I described to you. After they discover that Mia is possessed, it’s gratuitous gore and blood the rest of the film. If that’s what you look for in a horror film, then you’re all set, but if you’re looking for something with a better plot, I’d look elsewhere.

The original that made Bruce Campbell a household name was meant to be a serious horror film, but gained notoriety by being so campy and so cheaply made that it was good. This film was suppose to be a serious horror film and actually got decent reviews from critics, but I can’t honestly understand why. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, who originally wrote, directed and starred in the original, were producers on this effort and fully supported it and said it was great. Once again, I can’t understand why. My husband says I’m not fully satisfied with the remake of Evil Dead because I am too attached to the original, but honestly, I think it’s more than that. The original set a standard. A standard that made the original (and its sequels) legendary in the cult classic and horror categories. Yes, they had gratuitous violence in them too but still had enough substance to keep you entertained and interested. With the remake, once the possessions start, the whole film becomes a gore and blood fest and to top it off, the ending could be considered a ‘happy ending.” WHO ACTUALLY LIKES A HAPPY ENDING IN A HORROR FILM?!

My overall opinion is as a separate entity, the 2013 version of Evil Dead is better than most films in this genre nowadays, but compared to the original, it doesn’t hold up in the eyes of this fan. Decide for yourself. It’s in theaters now.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

 

 

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The Orson Scott Card/Superman Controversy Examined and Questioned

As writers and authors it is difficult to remove yourself from the worlds you create. Often times the utopian or dystopian ideals that you set forth into a story are those that you foresee as the most, or least, preferable world possible. The worlds we create as fiction writers are indelibly marked by our own personalities and politics—even our most villainous characters are in some way part of ourselves because they are created in our imaginations. Regardless of this, our works are not reflective entirely of our particular view point—only informed by them. It is, of course possible to write or imagine worlds, people, and scenarios with resolutions that we wouldn’t condone or advocate for in the real world. The beauty of creative writing and fiction writing is that we can build and populate realities that are as based in the real world as we want (or not).

Therefore, this raises an interesting question about the political power of supporting a particular author in regard to whether or not you agree with their actual worldviews, as opposed to whether or not you enjoy their work on its own. Recently, Orson Scott Card—writer of the famously popular Ender’s Game Series—was consigned by DC Comics to write an out-of-continuity Superman story in the relaunch of the title Adventures of Superman and all of fandom exploded in tirade. Card, a Mormon with a pedigree so prestigious that he is actually the great-grandson of Brigham Young, has openly opposed gay marriage in recent years and has historically held extremely conservative views regarding the Civil Rights of homosexuals (which have admittedly been at least revised over the years to keep current with the trends of Constitutionality and legality) that are based in his personal morality and, no doubt, his religious upbringing.

When DC announced the author of this one-shot tale, fans all across the internet swore to boycott the issue and rallied to have the company fire the author from the story. Meanwhile, Card’s novel Ender’s Game is consistently held to be one of the best Science Fiction novels of the 20th century (and considered the best by many), is recommended reading for Marines recruits and Officer’s Candidate School students, and has been adapted into a major motion picture to be released later this year, boasting an all-star cast including Harrison Ford. Where is the boycotting of the beloved Ender’s Game in the face of his never-been-secret views? In the meanwhile the story has been held up as, amidst the controversy, the artist attached to the issue has stepped down leaving the story without an illustrator and the release of the issue—the first in the relaunched series—has been apparently delayed and comic retailers are saying that due to the feedback they will only order the comic on a demand basis.

Are we as readers relegated only to consuming fiction by authors who we philosophically agree with? Are we as authors delegated to keeping our opinions to ourselves in order to be more commercially accepted? Certainly authors like Ayn Rand found a political following (posthumously) in the Tea Party and Fiscal Conservatives with her works, notably Atlas Shrugged—but I thoroughly enjoyed the book while having some issues with its philosophical underpinnings. Likewise for Ender’s Game. It’s a great book and deserves its much-lauded status. In reading Atlas Shrugged I found myself constantly challenging the ideals in the book, and checking them against my own which in turn required me to closely examine the beliefs I held gospel. I found that in reading a story so firmly entrenched in a philosophy that I did not agree with, but was nonetheless well written and well argued with a compelling plot (though arguably the characterization in Shrugged was lacking, and in the case of the protagonist ultimately disappointing) was like having a great conversation, taking a challenging course, and getting swept up in the escapist joy of fiction reading. I liken it to having a debate with a good friend with whom I am completely politically opposed—only in contest can we test the veracity of our own beliefs. Additionally, I have found very little in Ender’s Game that betrays a homophobic tone or even an abnormal amount sophomoric adolescent ribbing.

 

As a Superman fan, a person who enjoyed Ender’s Game, and someone who firmly believes personally that homosexuals deserve the full gamut of civil rights, privileges, and benefits as heterosexuals I find myself wondering “What’s the big deal?” Don’t we suffer as readers and thinkers when we relegate ourselves to have intellectual discourse with those who exclusively agree us? Aren’t we then doomed to never test our opinions and beliefs against opposition, making our opinions all the weaker?

So I turn the question to you—what do you think of the controversy over Orson Scott Card’s issue of Superman? Do you believe we should only support and read from authors and writers we agree with? What do we really look to get out of our reading?

 

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Written by Brandon Melendez

Man on the Moon (1999)

It had been several years since I last watched Man on the Moon starring Jim Carey, Danny DeVito, Courtney Love, and Paul Giamatti and directed by Milos Foreman. I remember vividly when the movie came out in 1999 and the press that Jim Carrey was getting for playing a dramatic role—not only for who he was playing, the enigmatic and probably autistic Andy Kaufman, but also the craft with which he approached and executed the role. As I sat down to give this movie a second go, I have to admit, my most vivid memories of it were Andy Kaufman and Jerry “The King Lawler”, the existence of Bob Zamuda and Tony Clifton, and Andy traveling to the Philippines to have his “cancer” removed. Other than that I was a fairly blank slate entering the movie. I had forgotten most of the particulars.

 

Watching the movie, you can’t help but fall in love with Andy Kaufman because, even though he is totally the inspiration for “Tom Green Show” (dated!) style antics, he has an innocence to him that is absolutely charming. Carey does a great job in taking the role on in such a way that you don’t question that this highly recognizable actor is playing another highly recognizable actor—you simply watch Andy. I suppose it was this innocence, this total commitment to the joke that only he was in on, is what made him so endearing and magnetic. However, the social ineptitude that must be the origin of such commitment and innocence, along with the incredibly awkward way that it can isolate people totally unreceptive to the prank, is the root of many theories about Kaufman being somewhere—undiagnosed—on the Autism Spectrum of Disorders. Regardless of a diagnosis, one cannot deny the brilliance and genius behind Kaufman’s entire approach to comedy…once you get to look behind the curtain and see the man pulling the levers and switches.

 

It is this innocence, along with a genuine kindness that made Kaufman such a loveable person to everyone in his life, without a doubt. The number of people who agreed to play themselves in this movie is a testament to the love that Kaufman generated. The entire cast of Taxi was present in the film—even if Danny DeVito was in fact playing another character. It strikes me that it must have been a double edged sword for DeVito to play a role in the movie…both cathartic and injurious as he was able to bring his friend back to life, but also relive his death and re-experience his grief. However having Danny DeVito so close to him, probably proved a great benefit to Carey in portraying Kaufman and adds a sense of credibility to the performance. Also present in the film was the real Jerry “The King” Lawler, David Letterman, and if credits are to be believed Tony Clifton—the imaginary lounge singer created and portrayed by Kaufman and his co-conspirator Bob Zamuda.

 

All in, the move takes you through some of the larger and most important moments…not necessarily in Kaufman’s personal life, but in his career (though if there is a distinction it is hard to tell) and some of the context that few people could know of in a world without internet. Only in a world without internet could the insane pranks that Andy Kaufman tried to pull on the audience ever work, because in today’s world the few people that would be in on the joke—the audience of Friday’s for example—would be tweeting and posting pictures of the truth…in real time. You get this real sense that Andy Kaufman was a gentle soul—played truly by Jim Carey, and supported by a cast that makes you love the man, not the actor. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I do have a soft spot for biopics and period pieces, but nonetheless if you haven’t seen this movie its worth your time for laughs and sadness; it’s a ride in humanity. If you have seen it, see it again and experience the world through the eyes of a man who gets the joke that nobody knows is being played.

 

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Written by: Brandon Melendez

Anime Review: Mobile Suit Gundam: 08th MS Team

Hey flakes, guess what?  It’s ANIME REVIEW TIME!  Don’t you just love Caps Lock?  I do.  Anyhoo, all knuckleheadery aside, let’s dive in to an EYS first: an anime review.

I’m not going to lie, I never really discovered Gundam until after a season of Dragon Ball Z was over on Toonami.  That’s when I caught my first glimpse of Gundam Wing via commercial.  I was stoked.  I had always known of giant robot cartoons going back to Transformers and VoltronPower Rangers brought it to life, but I never heard of Gundam.  If I did, it was in passing, as in passing by a store with posters or toys in the window.  So, I ventured into Gundam Wing with an open mind and a growing interest.  49 episodes later, and I was hooked.  I had to watch as many series as possible to see what other stories could be told.  Sadly, the only place I could access these shows for free at the time was on Cartoon Network, and the shows themselves were on at late times.  Once disposable cash was in my hand, I made the conscious effort to try and secure Gundam on home video somehow.  The question was, which Gundam it be?  Sadly, I couldn’t get Gundam Wing because the prices were exorbitant and almost unreasonable.  Mobile Fighter G Gundam wasn’t on DVD just yet, and if it was, I either couldn’t find it, or it was also pricey.  Then, one fateful day, I turned on Toonami and caught part of 08th MS Gundam Team.  This was the first Gundam series I ran into that sort of strayed from the title naming convention (Gundam and either a letter or an “after colony” year) but it was a side story that remained within the main Gundam story line (The Federation vs. Zeon).  Seems interesting enough, I thought.  So, I went into the city and happened to find the entire series on DVD.  Lucky me!

I was able to find every episode broadcast on television, the last episode they didn’t want to show on Toonami (pertaining to war children and such), and even the re-cap mini movie that bridged the gap between the first and second halves of the series. The series follows the 08th Mobile Suit Gundam Team and their battles against the Zeon Empire.  Lt. Shiro Amada is given command of this team due to his experience on the battlefield despite his youth.  This team is the Earth Federation’s best team when it comes to guerrilla warfare.  Making it to this team meant you had the chops to take it to the Zeon forces on the ground, in down-and-dirty combat.  There is just one hitch in the works, however.  Upon traveling to his unit, he encountered a young space pilot he chooses to save in the midst of a battle in space between the Federation and Zeon.  As they work together to save themselves from danger, they meet face to face and introduce themselves.  The pilot’s name is Aina Sahalin.  As they return to Earth, they do not realize that they are on opposite sides of the war with Aina being the sister of one of the commanders of the Zeon Empire.  This is further compounded by the fact that both are considered the “trump cards” of their respective sides.  After a number of battles, they encounter each other again on the battlefield, and romance ensues, in a love forbidden by war.  This begs the question: can love survive and in turn, peace be obtained on the battlefield between two warring entities?

One could say that this is that it’s “Romeo and Juliet meets giant mech anime.”  However, that would be oversimplifying it.  Aesthetically, it’s a forbidden love, due to war.  But it’s not so much out of personal hatred, as it is out of conquest and power.  Shiro and Aina are the keys to victory for their respective sides with their abilities, and they were able to find love for one another despite the sides they are on.  Also, I’m pretty sure Romeo and Juliet didn’t have awesome battles and battle tactics with giant mechanical suits.  So, take that, Shakespeare!

On a final note, I feel it’s always good to have at least one short-run anime series in your library, let alone a Gundam series.  This is the best of both worlds and it doesn’t disappoint.  The battles are great, the characters are pretty solid, and I won’t spoil the ending, but you might very well enjoy it.  I know I did, right down to the music.  Do yourself a favor and check this series out.

 

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Written by: Ezenwa Favian Anyanwu

 

Super 8

I finally got around to watching J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg’s epic summer movie blockbuster, Super 8. My pre-viewing impressions of the movie were clouded in a few ways—none of which were details to the “mysterious” plot and the non-descript movie title, but nonetheless, I have faith in both the writer/director and the producer, so I felt fairly certain that it was worth my precious movie watching time to give it a shot. I have to say that I was right, Super 8 is thoroughly enjoyable, well paced, and visually appealing.

Before I go any further, I feel I must be certain in stating that this movie feels exactly like what it is: a movie directed by Abrams and produced by Spielberg. The sci-fi elements, sunbursts, and most of the cinematography are all staples of Abrams’ work while a lot of the overall feel of the movie is very “Spielbergian.” The ensemble of kids in the small town reminded me so much of The Goonies early on, so much that I wondered what it was exactly that I was watching. As the more visual and important moments started rolling out, the score made it feel like a Spielberg flick.

The movie followed many recent trends in action, sci-fi, and borderline horror movies in that the audience hardly gets a good look at the alien creature, and the ones we do get are shrouded shadows and darkness, or cleverly obscured by rotating gas station signs and the like. What we are left with is an implicitly mental image of an intelligent-yet-vicious spider like creature on a bend of vengeance.

The movie does sport some great action shot visuals, particularly the train wreck which serves as the plot’s vehicle, which struck me as some reasonably scary shit to happen to a bunch of kids. The movie’s plot unravels in a way that is fairly standard, with some twists that are not totally original, but are nonetheless enjoyable and interesting to watch. Their lack of originality doesn’t concern me much because they were in fact interesting to watch. The cast of kids do well to carry the movie and there are several (easily dealt with) subplots that provide for some of the character development and background. Without a cast of kids, written to jab each other verbally as kids do, this movie would have been a complete failure. Additionally, setting it in the 1980s makes it a pretty transparent attempt on the part of Abrams to set the movie around a younger version of himself—which of course I can’t knock (buy my book).

The only thing that really stuck in my craw about this movie—which is admittedly a popcorn summer movie adventure—is that the casting of Alice’s father seemed a little young. The actor didn’t look old enough really to have a tweenage daughter, but then again maybe the alcohol was preserving him.

All in, I highly suggest this fun and visually thrilling action, science fiction adventure. If you’re looking for a movie with high moral concept or a thorough philosophy, take your dollar elsewhere; but if you’re looking for a fun romp and an escape into a world of “what the hell is going on?,” then spend a little time with this movie. It is sure to entertain.

 

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Written by: Brandon Melendez

Five Supermen from 75 Years of Superman

Well, it’s the 75th Anniversary of Action Comics number one, volume one which invariably means that Superman has reached his 75th birthday. It can be said without a doubt that Superman is the greatest, the most iconic, the Socratic form of the idea, ideal, and idol that the superhero represents. Personally, I’ve always played favorites and Big Blue is my favorite (despite historical mismanagement in my lifetime) and to commemorate the event I’d like to share some thoughts on a few of the men who have filled in corporeally for Superman in television and film.

 

Christopher Reeve

 

I will always hold a soft spot in my heart for the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. Sure, you can complain about…well…a lot of stuff in them but all in these movies had a wonderful spirit and, the first one especially, really captured the heart of the character. Whether it was the phenomenal first movie, the Frankensteined second one…or those others you have to admit, Reeve not only filled the boots, but he simultaneously defined and filled the boots perfectly. Particularly fun to watch in the movies is the way the Christopher Reeve played both Clark Kent and Superman—but not at the same time. In those movies the characters were separate, or even more meta (DC pun there ubernerds) He was playing Superman, playing Clark Kent. To be fair, I’ve always preerred the interpretation that Superman is the assumed identity, while Clark Kent is the real man, but in any event Reeves played it perfectly from different tones in voice, to different mannerisms, to speaking softer and higher as Kent and more surely and deeper as Superman. No matter what, all other portrays of Superman—comics included—are merely chasing Reeve portrayal of the Last Son of Krypton.

 

Dean Cain

Dean Cain always struck me as being entirely too short to play Superman. That said, Cain was charming and endearing in the role of Clark Kent, and the Superman scenes were always shot in a way that didn’t let you think too long about how he was too short to be the iconic Man of Steel. The interesting thing about Cain’s portrayal of the character was that it was right in step with the contemporary take on Superman that Kent was the real person and not the disguise. In a show called Lois and Clark that was an essential understanding required for the idea to work. Cain’s super-hip (see what I did there?) 90s Clark Kent deftly eschewed the bumbling klutz Clark Kent persona for the truly likeable quarterback version of the character. While his Superman wasn’t terribly inspiring, it was Cain’s work in defining a more realistically human, and relatable Clark Kent that really makes watching Lois and Clark a worthwhile affair (from a character development perspective that is!).

 

Tom Welling

I’m gonna be honest here, I’m not a big fan of Smallville. I was really excited when the show came on because I thought it was going to be a much better version of the Superboy Saturday morning television show of my little childhood. It…well…it was and it wasn’t. I didn’t care for the show in its first few seasons because it seemed to me that every time I watched the show some other poor teenager had been turned into Atomic Skull by Kryptonite exposure. Welling, for his part looked like a young Superman (until his stubble overtook his face in a very Dawsonesq way). The problem for me was that Clark was not so well rounded in worldly way, and his drive to do good was invariably overcome by his super-emo (yup I did it again) feelings for Lana. I tried to watch the show in later seasons as it seemed more and more likely that Clark would become Superman but I got tired in seasons 7 and 8 and clocked out again. All in, they should have done better by such good physical casting with better plotting, planning, and writing.

 

Brandon Routh

 

Brandon Routh, despite having an awesome first name, was not the best Superman he could be either. This however, was not entirely his fault. In Bryan Singer’s quest to recreate the classic Superman series he never seemed to let Routh be anything other than a guy who looked like Superman’s son try and fill another man’s boots, and while Kevin Spacey seemed to have great fun channeling a totally unhinged Gene Hackman Luthor Routh could not capture the intrinsic Superman-ness of Reeves and wasn’t able to explore in finding his own. This of course, was the general problem with Superman Returns: it was trying to be something old rather than something new. In that, there isn’t really much to say about it, besides…did that kid kill a dude?

 

So those are the Supermen I can really speak to, I didn’t want to get into George Reeve as I really haven’t watched the 50s Superman show in a way I could speak to, and I’ll leave Superman animated portrayals for another day—and comics for several months at another time. The only thing I can add to this is that the forthcoming Man of Steel movie looks genuinely good for a variety of reasons…not the least of which is that its not trying to be something else, someone else’s vision, or a Superman for another time. Hopefully, it’ll live up to that, and rest assured you’ll be reading a review here from me in no time!

Up up and away!

 

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Written by: Brandon Melendez

Heartthrob

The other day while watching TV, a commercial for Express (clothing store) came on. In the background there were some familiar voices, but the music didn’t match the voices. An infectious sythn filled pop song was bursting through the speakers and I thought to myself “this sounds like Tegan and Sara but it’s almost too poppy.” I was pleasantly surprised when I found out it was indeed the band of sisters and the song? Their can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head single “Closer.”

Don’t be mistaken, this duo has been making catchy music for years, but with their new album Heartthrob, it sounds like the sisters are testing new waters. Mark my words, if “Closer” isn’t already on your party play list, you’ll be adding it immediately after you hear it. The electric pop song is so packed with energy that you can’t help but get yourself on the dance floor.  This song is my current obsession and I don’t think it’s going to be replaced anytime soon. I’m not the only one obsessed with this song; I’ve heard that it recently was featured on the hit Fox series Glee.

While listening to the album, there was definitely a theme going on; love. The album seems to go through all the emotions, from happy and hopeful (like in “Closer”) to regretful and sad, like in “I was a fool.”  What kills me about this song (in a good way) is how even though the song is a tale of a failed relationship, the synthesizer and drum machine somehow keep it upbeat. This song reminds me of a power ballad from the ’80s, it could have easier been Madonna (in her early years) or Cyndi Lauper.

Now that I think of it, “I Was A Fool” was not the only song that had an ’80s vibe to it.  The heavily laced bass and drum track of “Shock To Your System” sounds like it belongs on a Pat Benetar or Heart album. There’s a lot of power in the lyrics and the subtlety of the twin sisters, a lot like the power you would hear from The Wilson sisters in Heart or in Benetar anthem. What I love so much about Tegan and Sara is how cool and nonchalant they are with music. What I mean by this is, some performers feel like they have to scream or belt out a note to really drive the point home, or to give it some power. Yes, these tactics do drive the point home, but Tegan and Sara have that same amount of power without having to showboat (for lack of better words).

The quirky Canadian sister team has returned to the music scene with a vengeance. It’s natural for artists to evolve and try new things with their music. Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s a miss. Taking such a huge step out of your comfort zone can be tough, but Tegan and Sara nailed it. They’ve always made infectious pop music but with this new album, the format is amplified. If you haven’t picked up their new album Heartthrob yet, now would be a good time.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti