Monday, November 25, 2013

Monster #20—Giant Worms

So, last week's post about giant centipedes got me to thinking about what happens when you cut off those 100 legs. You end up with a worm. And as if  it's those legs that make them, for whatever reason, not compelling monsters for stories, I guess that would explain why when you think about giant worms, there's all SORTS of stories and movies out there! It's certainly easier to do a giant worm in a movie; they're easy to build, after all!

And I'll get it out of the way right here. Although I do like the sandworms from Dune... I'm not gonna say anything more about them here, because overall, I really don't care for Dune.


Giant Worms are even in the same movie I mentioned last week—Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong. And elsewhere as well. Heck... I guess I don't have much more to say about giant worms, but the list below is pretty big nonetheless...

Recommended Viewing:
Recommended Reading:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Book Review—Doctor Sleep

I've been reading Stephen King for about 30 years. Started reading him at what a lot of folks might say is too young... but my parents, fortunately, were not among them, and they had no problem with me reading Cujo and  Pet Semetery at the age of 10 or so. The fact that my Grandma gave me these books to read probably helped.

Anyway, as the world knows, Stephen King's written a bazillion books. And when you write that many, some will be brilliant and some will be terrible. His latest, Doctor Sleep, isn't brilliant (although it certainly has a few moments of it at the start and at the end), but it's consistently good. It's less concerned with horror than it is with character, and since character is where King is the best, that's fine with me. It's also interesting that, while there is a large cast of villains in the book (a band of road-wandering child-killing vampires who drink psychic powers, not blood) who are pretty reprehensible (what with the child killing and all that)... you kinda end up feeling a little sorry for them. In fact, the villains of Doctor Sleep are strangely out of their league against our protagonists, which is an unusual way to tell a story about child-killing mind-drinking vampires.

OH! It's a sequel to The Shining also. One of the scariest books King's written, and one of the best, perhaps THE best book about a haunted house I've read—it's only competition would be Nazareth Hill or The Haunting of Hill House. As he mentions in is afterword, Stephen King was a very different person when he wrote The Shining, and it shows. And not in a bad way! But... I love The Shining, and it's hard to top it. King doesn't try to top it—Doctor Sleep tells a VERY different story that just happens to be about Danny Torrence, the same little boy, now all grown up, who once saw something very bad in the Overlook Hotel.

Doctor Sleep...
  • ... needed only 7 or so pages to give me the chills. It never really equals the dread of those first few pages... but then again, it's not really trying to. The dread is a cool carry over from The Shining to ease you out of that book's world and into the world of Doctor Sleep.
  • ... will confuse folks who only know the Kubrick version of The Shining. King's version is pretty different.
  • ... makes me eager to see King do squeals to other novels. Pet Semetery, in particular.
Grade: B+

Movie Review—The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Sometimes, things that are wildly popular are actually pretty good. I went into The Hunger Games a few years ago not expecting much—not expecting anything but a tame PG-13 sanitized version of a similar movie, Battle Royale. What I got was much more than that—the central concept of Battle Royale—"Put a bunch of kids out in the wild and then film them killing each other," is obviously a key point of inspiration for The Hunger Games... but that's not all The Hunger Games is about. The competition is about 1/2 of the movie—with the setup being just as important to the evolving mythos of the world. In Catching Fire, that mythos expands, and whereas the first part was a pretty self-contained movie, this one is anything but. It's an over two-hour-long preamble for the REAL movie that's yet to come—an epic saga of revolution against an overwhelming government. And I'm really looking forward to seeing that movie. Quite a lot.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has great actors, a compelling script, some impressive special effects, and all the rest that makes a great movie, but as entertaining as it is... it really isn't a full movie. It's the first act of a three act arc, and if the next two movies fall flat, then all the work put in to this one will have been wasted. I certainly hope they don't mess up what they've set up, because it's a compelling storyline. Don't go in to see it expecting resolutions is all I'm saying!
So... yeah, went to the bathroom at what I foolishly took to be a slow part, and when I returned... MONKEYS!
 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is...
  • ... hopefully going to make the studio plenty of money so they don't do something stupid like pull the plug on the Mockingjay movies!
  • ... doing just fine in the moneymaking category, as a quick check online confirms. Whew!
  • ... has a bad-ass heroine in it who isn't invulnerable or superhuman or even all that particularly heroic. YET.
  • ... also has some pretty cool archery scenes!
  • ... feels a little too close to predicting the future now and then.
  • ... was almost directed by David Cronenberg. THAT would have been incredible! I'd love to see what he can do with an enormous budget some day!
Grade: A–

Movie Review—All Is Lost

My dad always had a low opinion of amusement park rides. He is fond of saying things like, "Why would I pay to ride around on a roller coaster when I can go out on the ocean and do it for real?" I've been out on the ocean on pretty rough days—not as rough as some of the days he's seen, but rough enough to get what he's talking about. With a roller coaster, the thrills are manufactured, and there's the notion that as frightening as they might be, they're designed to thrill and not hurt. The ocean doesn't have that psychological safety net. It doesn't want to kill you or save you or hurt you. It just is what it is, and when humans get in its path, they must respect it or they will suffer. And even respect isn't always enough.

All Is Lost gets this idea across better than any movie I've seen. This movie is already something of a miracle and a wonder, in that it's got barely any dialogue in it, because it's only got one actor in the entire thing. The movie starts with Robert Redford's character waking on his sailboat somewhere in the Indian Ocean with water rushing into his cabin–his boat struck a container that fell off a ship, and now there's a hole at the waterline. The captain doesn't panic or freak out—he knows that won't solve the problem. He just goes to work, doing his best to fix the situation. A situation that spirals out of control despite the fact that he increasingly does every thing he can do to survive.

Because the ocean doesn't care if you survive or not.
Believe it or not... it gets worse.

All Is Lost ...
  • ... brought back memories of the smell of fiberglass resin.
  • ... is PG-13 pretty much entirely for one of the most despair-fueled uses of the f-bomb I've seen.
  • ... confirms my suspicions of how harrowing it would be to be in a storm in a sailboat where the swells are bigger than your boat.
  • ... is one of the best movies of 2013.
Grade: A+

Movie Review—Grabbers

Grabbers belongs to the same category of horror-comedy as Tremors—a small town beset upon by a strange sort of weird monster that has a quirky sense of humor about all that's going on. Unlike Tremors, though, Grabbers is pretty much a mediocre movie in every way that Tremors was exceptional, from the acting to the story to the creature design to the special effects (more on that later) to the humor. Especially the humor. There were a few funny parts in Grabbers, but nothing on par with Earl's elephant gun or the aftermath of blowing up a Graboid or Kevin Bacon's discovery of the "ass end." In fact, even though I haven't seen Tremors in many, many years, the fact that I can  recall lots of funny scenes from it and can't recall any specific ones that were that funny from Grabbers (which I saw just a week ago) is pretty damning.

And special effects. The fact that CGI is so affordable these days is great. There are a lot of low-budget movies out there that make great use of CGI, such as Monsters or Lovely Molly, but it's SO easy to overstep the capability of your effects with CGI it seems. At least with practical effects, even if it's fake looking, the actors are still interacting with something, and that really helps to sell the scene. The effects in Grabbers were actually quite good, but they weren't themselves enough to elevate the movie out of mediocrity.

Which is too bad, because the monster itself is pretty cool. Too bad they went with a boring "space alien" source and didn't just embrace the Lovecraftian vibe full on!
Throw it back! Throw it back!

Grabbers is...
  • ... a little too enamored with its central idea of "the aliens drink blood and alcohol is poison to them, so being drunk saves us!"
  • ... disapointingly mediocre, as far as monster movies go.
  • ... filled with beautiful scenery—the shots of Ireland's coastlines were enough to make me want to visit! Preferably when tentacle monsters aren't flopping around!
Grade: C+

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Monster #19—Giant Centipedes

So this time, I'm choosing a monster that's obscure enough that I can't think of ANY books or stories that have been written about it, and can think of only one movie they've appeared in. Which is something of a shame, really, because look at that thing to the left! If that's not a monster, what is? So what if that one's only a few inches long... with all those legs, the poisonous bite, and that freaky looking face, and that bright color (remember... bright colors is one of the ways nature says "DON'T TOUCH!"), how could we have gone so long without a giant centipede attacking some city?

Growing up... I did a fair amount of what my friend called "board snuffing." To board snuff, you just have to find an old board out in the yard or woods, then just lift it up and examine (snuff) around the contents revealed. It doesn't have to be a board, of course; we had stacks of concrete blocks out behind our house that worked well also (including having the ability to now and then crush fingers). In any event, once you've got the board up, there were entire ecosystems to examine. And if you were REALLY lucky, an alligator lizard or rubber boa or something equally and unexpectedly large and awesome. But you also had to be careful, since there were other things lurking under the boards. Poisonous things. I've found black widow spiders, scorpions, trap-door spiders, and more while board snuffing. There were supposedly rattlesnakes living where I grew up, but I was both fortunate and unlucky enough to never find any of them.

And of course I found centipedes. Bright yellow and orange ones. They were EASILY the most common of the significantly poison, scary critters I found. I've never been bitten by one, not for lack of tempting fate, but something that brightly colored has to pack a punch. One day, I found a particularly large centipede, and as was my wont whenever I found something of note while board snuffing, I caught it and put it in a jar to keep in my room as a decoration and creepy "pet" for a few days before releasing it back into the wild. My friend (the same one who invented the phrase "board snuffing" in the first place) was spending the night over that day, and when I woke up, I found the jar that had contained the centipede was EMPTY. The monster was in the house! In my room! I kinda freaked out. My friend claimed he had let it out in the night, and to this day I'm not sure if he was joking or actually did. I do know that several months later, after moving some furniture around in my room, I found the giant quite dead centipede against a floorboard under the bed...
AAAAHHH! Do not want!

Anyway. Maybe I should take my centipede life experiences and take care of the glaring omission in fiction when it comes to giant versions of these critters. As mentioned above, I couldn't think of any books where they've appeared, and the only movie? Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong, which actually has a pretty harrowing sequence involving some big centipedes.

And no... The Human Centipede doesn't count. That's a different thing altogether.

Recommended  Viewing

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Movie Review—Maniac

It's one thing to cast Elijah Wood, best known of course for his portrayal of Frodo Baggins, as a stone-cold evil maniac of a serial killer. This movie, aptly titled Maniac, goes one step further. Nearly the entire movie is filmed from the point of view of the killer as he stalks his victims one by one to collect their scalps for his collection of mannequins in an attempt to replace the loss of his horrific and horrible but recently-deceased mother. There's some really impressive camera work here, to be sure, especially in the shots where you see direct-on views of the killer's reflections in mirrors and windows and the like, and the few points where the camera pans away from the killer's POV are really effective in giving you a moment to observe what's going on in a more standard way. They're like gasps for air, in a way, these opportunities to step out of a killer's body, especially since these tend to occur at the more violent or creepy points in the movie.

There's not an awful lot in the way of plot in this movie—it's pretty much all about the killer's methodical collection of victims while he tries to juggle a growing for-real relationship with a woman who wants to use his mannequins for her photography (the ones he restores, not the ones he keeps secret in his bedroom with scalps stapled to their heads). Of course, as one might expect, keeping your serial killing separate from your love life is a recipe for disaster, and eventually these two worlds collide in a relatively spectacular chase sequence. The two main characters—the serial killer and his would-be girlfriend—are relatively interesting, and the special effects are realistic and horrific and well done, but in the end it's the unique POV of the camerawork that is Maniac's real star.
Lord of the Rings would have been a very different movie had this been Frodo...

Maniac is ...
  • ... yet another excellent example of how creepy mannequins are.
  • ... a remake, but I've not seen the original so I can't say if this is better or worse.
  • ... proves that as violent as a movie can be, filming the violence from the POV of the perpetrator makes it all the more disturbing. It's pretty hard to watch at times.
  • ... has a lengthy scene that features the song "Good-Bye Horses," that, much like its use in The Silence of the Lambs, does an unsettling job of making an already creepy scene even more so.
  • ... will change how you see Elijah Wood as an actor... he pulls off the serial killer really, really well!
Grade: B+

Monday, November 11, 2013

Movie Review—Thor: The Dark World

So. Thor: The Dark World is a really well-made movie, with incredible special effects, really cool characters, some fun dialog, and the way it fits into the expanding cinematic Marvel universe is really cool.

It's also the first of the various Marvel comic book movies where I started feeling like things were starting to feel a bit repetitive. I mean... how many times can the world and/or universe ALMOST get destroyed only to be saved at the last minute by a superhero before the bad guys give up? Especially since this time, the bad guys just seem like a downgrade in menace from all that's come before.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm eager to see some of these superheros get into a smaller plot. Something that allows for character growth rather than just excuses for special effects. And know what else? I'm kinda ready for there to be a big-budget superhero movie about a non-white guy superhero. They exist. I know they do. And movies about them have been made before. I just want to see one done that is done to the level of quality of many of Marvel's latest movies.
Enough with Thor. Let's get a Sif movie! Hey... they could show it at SIFF!

Thor: The Dark World ...
  • ... reminds me of how important it is for a superhero movie to have a really awesome and memorable soundtrack. DC's comic book movies seem to get this. Why doesn't Marvel?
  • ... has a DELIGHTFUL cameo by Captain America.
  • ... left the Asian guy out of the movie for no real reason, which was disappointing.
  • ... should have given Ray Stevenson more to do.
  • ... made me want to see Rene Russo in more swordfighting scenes!
Grade: B

Movie Review—Sound of My Voice

So, Netflix seems to be pretty good at guessing what sorts of movies I'll like, and so I'm always delighted to see it suggest a movie I haven't heard of before. All I knew about Sound of My Voice going in was that it had something to do with a couple who decided to infiltrate a cult in order to get proof that said cult was up to no good. Of course... things don't quite go as planned, and that's all I'm going to say about this movie so as to not spoil the surprise! Actually, since the trailer and the fact that I tagged this post as "science fiction" is already a spoiler, I'll say this much. The leader of the cult the investigators infiltrate claims to be from the future. And that's the rub. How do you PROVE you're from the future if you really are? Or how do you make people BELIEVE you're from the future if you really aren't? And... why would you do either?

The movie is not particularly gory or violent or even profanity-filled... but it IS pretty dang thought provoking and intriguing!
What's going on here? Has something to do with apples. I'm not gonna spoil it!

Sound of My Voice...
  • ... is a quiet, slow-moving movie that really draws you in by expanding what's going on in steps that seem tiny at first but are really huge leaps.
  • ... makes you think that something is going on, then reverses things to make you think something else is going on, then goes back to what you thought was going on, again and again. 
  • ... feels like the tip of the iceberg; it's supposedly the first in a trilogy. Here's hoping the next two get made!
Grade: A–

Movie Review—Kon-Tiki

I've felt that the story of the Kon-Tiki would make a great movie for a long time. And while this movie was not great... it was still pretty good. The story of Thor Heyerdal and the journey he and his crew made across the Pacific Ocean is pretty awesome, one fraught with peril and adventure and beauty. It's not one that needs to be "amped up," and had this been a full-on Hollywood-style production, I'm sure it would have had gunfights and car chases.

It wasn't a Hollywood-style production, but the scenes I'd been most interested in seeing were either "actioned up" or cut altogether, and some scenes that didn't exist at all were put in there just to liven up the pace. That, and some shots of sharks and stuff not really behaving the way sharks behave were a bit unfortunate.

Still a well-made and entertaining movie. Just didn't manage to meet the expectations I'd built up for the movie over the past, oh, three decades or so. I'm not sure anything could, though.
Awww! Poor little guy got left on the cutting room floor! Just because he's ugly!

Kon-Tiki is...
  • ... missing the scene where the snake mackerel jumps in bed with one of the crew.
  • ... has the scene with the whale shark (it kinda HAD to) but it was over way too quickly.
  • ... did an incredible job with realizing the world; great cinematography and for the most part great special effects.
  • ... made me want to re-read Thor's book to remind myself of which parts the movie made up and which parts really happened.
  • ... didn't spend long enough time at sea.
  • ... has a shot that goes from the surface of the ocean, up into orbit around the earth, then back down to the sea that is really rather awesome.
Grade: B+

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Movie Review—Lord of Tears

So, I've helped fund 3 movies so far on Kickstarter. I'll get to reviews of the first two once they're out, but it IS kind of amusing that the one I helped fund most recently is the first one that I've seen. Now, Lord of Tears had a leg up on the others since it was already done and the Kickstarter campaign was mostly to secure distribution and marketing for the movie, but still.

So! As you can see from the pictures, Lord of Tears is about the owlman. But there's quite a bit more going on here than that, and despite how creepy the owlman looks... by the time the movie's over, you realize that it wasn't really about the owlman at all. The movie itself has a pretty simple plot, and it's not going to impress with a huge cast, and the monster doesn't do a lot more than stand around and watch... but as it turns out, when you've got such an incredibly haunting and scenic location to shoot in like the highlands of Scotland, things like plot and cast and super-dynamic monsters aren't all that necessary. Especially when you couple that with an incredibly dream-like style of shooting and then edit the movie so that the whole thing increasingly feels like a strange nightmare.

There's some cool twists to the story as well, one of which I saw coming early (and enjoyed nonetheless) and one of which kinda surprised me in a good way. I'll be somewhat vague about those. The movie's plot, as I mentioned, is pretty simple. A man inherits a house after his mother's suicide—but in her will, she says words to the effect of, "Something at that house drove you crazy and made you almost drown yourself—don't go back there today!"

And so, of course, he goes back there to find out, if he can, what caused him to repress a year or so of memories as a child. Because after that setup, what self-respecting horror movie character WOULDN'T go? (To be fair, the character comments on this in the movie, noting, more or less, "Why would Mom tell me to stay away like that, when she should know a warning like that would only intrigue me all the more?") Of course, once he arrives, he starts having strange dreams and seeing visions of a frightening creature watching him from the the surrounding hills and woods—was an encounter with the owlman what terrified him so as a child?

Or was it something far worse?
A very good reason to turn around and find your way down a different, less horror-filled hallway...

Lord of Tears ...
  • ... is relatively slow paced and deliberate in getting where it wants to go, but it's never once boring to look at. The movie made me want to go visit Scotland!
  • ... gets a lot of mileage out of the owlman suit. It doesn't need to do much but stand there to send chills up the spine, and the scenes where you don't realize immediately that the owlman is in there, watching you, blending in to the background, are pretty effective. Makes you start imagining owlmen in scenes where there aren't any.
  • ... feels like being trapped in a nightmare. Not every part of it makes logical sense, and a fair amount of the imagery  is there only for symbolism and because it just looks creepy.
  • ... uses a large number of public-domain or free sound effects, many of which I've heard a LOT in video games. That's always distracting to me, since those sound effects tend to be overheard a LOT in video games over and over... kinda took me out of the nightmare-induced fugue the movie was putting me in now and then.
  • ... arrived in the best packaging ever—wrapped in black crepe paper, with an owl feather affixed to the front and no other indication as to what was inside. Owlman doesn't need to sign his name to leave his mark!
  • ... incorporates themes of Slenderman and the tones of Lovecraft. No wonder it felt like a nightmare!
  • ... is a refreshing throwback to older British horror movies where mood and tone rule all. Fittingly, the director dedicated the movie to Christopher Lee.
Grade: A–

Monster #17—Owlman

The concept of humans with animal heads is one of the classic monster tropes. Want a quick and easy way to make a person scary and strange? Give them a wolf head or a tiger head or a snake head. Or, as it turns out, an owl head.

The Owlman isn't a monster I'd heard much about until earlier this year, when a Kickstarter project caught my attention—a movie called Lord of Tears was seeking some money to secure some additional funding for last minute additions and reshoots, but primarily so they could pay for distribution of the already pretty-much-complete movie. After seeing Absentia come to life thanks to Kickstarter, I'd been keeping an eye out for other interesting and promising horror movies to help fund, so I probably would have kicked in some cash for Lord of Tears even if the movie hadn't yet started filming.

Now, while the Owlman of the movie was a very specific monster with a very specific tie to history, the "real" Owlman is a figure that haunts the area around Mawnan, Cornwall. He hasn't been sighted all that often, which may be why I've not heard about him in my relatively extensive monster researching lore. Variously explained as a manifestation of energy from prehistoric ley lines to sightings of rare eagles or other birds, I think my favorite explanation remains that he's a sinister demigod from antiquity. Which is, as you'll see in my next post, what the movie went with!

Recommended Viewing:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Monster #16—Alp

As a kid, I used to have night terrors. These aren't just nightmares. These are visions of such unrelenting horror as you sleep that you simply can't do anything but shriek and scream. I can hardly imagine what it's like for a parent to have to deal with a child who has night terrors. I get them still now and then today, particularly when I'm overstressed... the best way to handle them is to get up, walk around, grab some water, and take 10 minutes or so to reinforce the fact that you're fine, you're in your home, you're safe.

Night terrors have tormented us as a race from the START of the race. But they aren't the most frightening form of nightmare to me. The most frightening would probably be what's called "sleep paralysis." I've never suffered from this type of nightmare, but plenty of people have... it's the type of dream where you wake up, hallucinate, and simply can't move... and all that comes with an overwhelming feeling of terror and dread. It's from experiences like these that all manner of notorious legends and myths have evolved, from the succubus and incubus on up to the more contemporary aliens who supposedly abduct folks to perform experiments.

One such creature in this category is the alp—a creature from German mythology similar in some ways to a vampire, in others to a ghost, and in still more to an incubus (although the legends generally don't include a sexual element in the alp's case).

Yet, if I've never had sleep paralysis before... why am I suddenly all intrigued by alps? Well, I just finished playing a VERY good video game earlier today—a tense and stressful thing called Outlast. In the game, you play a reporter who gets a tip that there are strange goings on at an old asylum, and so you head up there one night to investigate, armed only with your video camera. This camera is also your only way to navigate the darkest parts of the asylum, by letting you use the night-vision mode to do so. Of course... there are ALL SORTS of horrific things going on in the asylum for you to run from and hide from; crazy people, deranged doctors, naked deranged orderlies, deformed lunatics, mutants... and as the game progresses, something called a "walrider." Which is, of course, another name for the alp.

The game's a piece of work. Made me jump back from the computer several times. Highly recommended. Just don't play it late at night, especially if you're prone to the terrors! Check out the gameplay footage/trailer below... IF YOU DARE!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Movie Review—The Last Days on Mars

Back in Elementary School I checked a book out of the school library. This book was an anthology of short stories called Creepies, Creepies, Creepies. It ended up being one of the most important books I've ever read, for in the pages of this formative anthology I would read, for the first time, stories by Bram Stoker, William Hope Hodgson, Robert Bloch, and H. P. Lovecraft. After reading these stories, I began to devour other horror stories, both old and new, but this anthology has always remained one of my favorites, for in my memories, it's the first adult horror anthology I'd ever read.

One of the other stories in the book was a short one called "The Animators," by Sydney J. Bounds. I'd never read anything by him before this book, and unlike the four authors I've mentioned above... I never read anything by him since. But "The Animators" stuck in my  mind as surely as did any story from the book; a grim, depressing, dark, and rather frightening story about a crew of scientists on Mars who discover a form of life that, when it infects a dead body, animates the body into something akin to a violent zombie! One of the most horrifying aspects of the story was that the hero was being pursued by relentless zombies across the Martian landscape. The hero was running low on oxygen... but the zombies, of course, were not... he was faster, but the faster he ran, the more oxygen he used... and if he died before the rescue ship arrived and he could warn them... then the animators would reach Earth!

So it shouldn't surprise you that when I'd heard "The Animators" was being adapted into a movie, I was hopeful and wary.

The Last Days on Mars just debuted on Halloween on numerous streaming sites online—it's going to have a theatrical release in December, but I was done waiting. I fired up the old Xbox and paid the 10 bucks to rent it... and I'm happy to say I was NOT disappointed! It's an independent and relatively low-budget movie, but it looks really good! Not only are the effects well done, and not only is the acting and writing also excellent... but this is the first movie set on Mars that looks like it could have actually been set there. The outdoor scenes look like what we're seeing from NASA, in other words, not deserts filmed through red filters. When things go bad, they stay bad and quickly escalate, but there's plenty of moments for character development that enhances the story as we go. The end is slightly different in the movie from the book... but only physically—as far as themes go, it nails it.

Whew... I'm relieved!
Wonder how many actual missions to Mars will, ultimately, come down to this in the end?

The Last Days on Mars...
  • ... managed the nearly impossible task of not disappointing me after over 3 decades of fond memories of the original story first making an impression on me.
  • ... follows in the footsteps of this year's Europa Report and Gravity in presenting some impressive and mature and disturbingly believable outer-space thrills.
  • ... features "zombies" more akin to the maniacs from 28 Days Later than the truly undead monsters from Dawn of the Dead.
  • ... captures the sense of dread in the story that arises from the knowledge that you have limited air and resources that don't bother the things that are increasingly trying to get you.
  • ... convinced me that if I'm ever a scientist on a Martian laboratory that I shouldn't leave the power drill just lying around.
  • ... is thankfully free of people doing stupid things just to advance the plot—when the captain orders someone to "stay out of the creepy hole in the Martian landscape," they do. It doesn't matter in the end, of course!
Grade: A–