Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Spaceman Spiff, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    I'm not really seeing that in pin-up picture. The contrast is pretty stark, but that's about it.

    The main problem that these types of attempts usually have is that the actors are rarely able to pull off speaking as if they're from the movies of that period. Even in the silent The Call of Cthulhu, there are little clues that they're modern actors.

    Still, those limitations are pretty forgivable, as long as there are still good performances.

    And it definitely looks like House of the Wolf Man is trying. Look at these make-ups! They all look great, but I'm particularly surprised with Dracula. For a low-budget production, that's some excellent casting, at least based on his look. Like the Wolf Man, Frankenstein's monster looks changed enough to keep Universal from flipping out, but close enough to seem like a progression from those movies.

    Great stuff.
     
  2. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Earlier tonight they put up the trailer! :cool: What do you guys think?

    I think it looks great, though the voice-over sounds kind of silly and out of place. But the look of it is nice.

    And wow, in that last shot of Ron Chaney, you can really see the resemblance to Lon, Sr., especially.
     
  3. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    That would be great (I've thought that about Starship Exeter as well). I wonder how the movie is going to get around using Copyrighted names; hopefully, it won't be too awkward.

    Yes, in Photoshop. :D As long as it has that retro look....

    And you can tell the street scenes are CGI, too. That's okay. It can't be perfect, and it's still incredibly good. Those guys are working on another movie, too (and their radio dramas are also excellent).

    Wow, Dracula looks amazing! Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster are pretty good; the Monster looks a little "harsh," but he has been burned up a few times at this point.

    Wow, the sets are amazing. The old-fashioned car, the rain, the castle-- it all looks very genuine. The Monster doesn't look quite big enough to me, though. Maybe he's not the same Monster....
     
  4. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    At this point he's the monster with Ygor's brain, right? Maybe he's shrinking to fit. ;)

    I've always been slightly disappointed by that, by the way. That, basically, the original monster was killed when his brain was swapped for Ygor's. Poor guy. :(

    As for the name, I've always been a little fuzzy on just what name is trademarked. In the original films, it was always "The Wolf Man," which is why I suspect movies like The Monster Squad got away with calling him "Wolfman." And then there's Nicholas Pekearo's novel, The Wolfman, which has no connection to Universal.

    To make it even more confusing, the promotional materials for Universal's remake all say The Wolfman.

    I'm not sure how it works.
     
  5. NileQT87

    NileQT87 Commander Red Shirt

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    As far as the wolf man, the wolf-man, the wolfman, wolfman, etc...

    This isn't about trademarks so much as the changing English language. Funny thing. If you look at most old movie posters, you'll see things like "teen-aged" hyphened (this was very new slang at the time). A whole bunch of words hadn't yet morphed into one word. Anything that was once two words or two words hyphenated have subsequently morphed into one word over time.
     
  6. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Sure, but if Universal has one of them trademarked, then, technically, this film can't use that one.

    It might just be that Universal isn't particularly aggressive about it where the Wolf Man is concerned.

    Anyway, I hope this will be good, because the reasoning behind the remake's reshoots has me concerned.

    Goddammit. It's like they paid no attention to all the enthusiastic comments about Rick Baker's design on horror websites. Now it's unclear whether he's having any influence over this movie at all.

    Jeez. I was really looking forward to it, too. And if you read the bit in the article about a fight between "The Wolf Man" and "The Werewolf," it sounds pretty dumb. I don't want it to look like Underworld or, God forbid, Van Helsing.

    I'm hoping they can still pull off an interesting movie, but it already sounds pretty disappointing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
  7. NileQT87

    NileQT87 Commander Red Shirt

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    From pictures, IMO, it looks more like a parody. The look of the characters isn't particularly genuine to the 1930s. Grainy/soft film stock with occasionally rough editing and tinnier audio would help.

    And yes, I've noticed that the way people talk in films between then and now are so glaringly different. At best, they could degrade the audio and image quality. Having the actors speak very formally and dramatically is needed. Remember that the 1930s still relied on a lot of silent film-style acting (horror films especially). Heavy focus on the big, dark eyes with dramatic makeup to make up for the high-contrast black and white film stock, persed cupid-bow lips and silent film-like emotional shots would help make it more authentic. A generally slow, plodding tone, also. Horror films in those days were closer to being dramas than horror films.

    Despite being a parody, Young Frankenstein actually did a remarkable job of getting the 'look' and 'feel' right.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
  8. barnaclelapse

    barnaclelapse Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, from what I'm seeing/hearing/reading it sounds like a complete write-off at this point.

    Sure hope I'm wrong.
     
  9. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    This is all very good and accurate, but the movie doesn't have to fit in with 1930s movies the way Young Frankenstein did, because The Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula were all made between 1941 and 1945. ;)

    The look of it fits in pretty well with those movies. The sound will have to be in mono, though.

    Also, I'm not getting the sense that it's a parody at all.
     
  10. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    True, but what does that really mean in a world where Larry Talbot wants to be cured of lycanthropy with a brain transplant? I don't think brains mean the same thing in the Universal Universe. :D

    Actually, I was referring to the name Larry Talbot. I don't see how they can get away with calling him by name in the movie, which means he'll spend his Human time in a coma or as an amnesiac or something.

    It will probably be at least partially parody, like Frankenstein Versus The Creature From Blood Cove, if not totally parody, like Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra. I wish more people were like the HPLHS and had the ovaries to do it straight.

    "Four legs good, two legs bad." Sounds like they're going for the American Werewolf look, after all. This is why I don't like remakes. :(
     
  11. NileQT87

    NileQT87 Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm plenty aware that The Wolf Man was made in 1941. However, they're also showing Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein's monster (1931) in those promos. Even at the time of The Wolf Man, the Dracula/Frankenstein aesthetics weren't a whole lot different. It was around the 1950s-1960s that horror films started getting much sillier and campy (the space race).

    Though, whereas James Whale's Frankenstein films seem pretty comfortable with being talkies, Tod Browning was known for being uncomfortable with the format change (and it shows, because he still uses a lot of silent film-making techniques). Certainly, by 1941 the changeover was solidly complete, but the acting styles weren't totally different. The late '30s/early '40s were a slightly more polished, Hollywood-ized version of the '20s/early '30s changeover period. The Hayes Code had certainly entered the picture as far as content.

    People acted pretty formally... even in the schlock. And the audio-visual equipment available at the time definitely gave a feel that people seem to struggle with trying to degrade enough (it's like they are uncomfortable with degrading the technology so harshly) to reproduce the same feel.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009
  12. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    I'm wondering if they will use the name at all. They could skirt it by simply calling him Larry or Lawrence, without using his last name.

    Comments at Dread Central and Nuke the Fridge have pointed out that some of the clothing looks more 1950s. If that's intended, it may be that he's supposed to be Larry's son. I guess we'll see.

    Yeah, they're showing Dracula and Frankenstein's monster in the trailer because they were in both House of movies, which is what this movie is trying to emulate.
     
  13. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    I was thinking that. I was just wondering if calling a Wolf Man "Larry" in a movie clearly emulating the old Universals would be going too far.

    Interesting, because I thought that too, especially concerning the letter jacket; I just wasn't certain enough to actually say it. :rommie:
     
  14. NileQT87

    NileQT87 Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, Lettermen jackets were certainly well in use before the 1950s, and in fact, I wouldn't cry foul if it were in the 1940s with that jacket. But it does scream 1950s in the overall look of the character. The same with the stereotypical 1950s geek character.

    However, the Bettie Page get-up on that one girl just screams 1950s.

    Though the two girls do look a bit too close to modern girls trying to look retro. Something just doesn't quite fit. The Bettie Page thing is perhaps going a bit too far into era homage territory (at least there are no glaringly unauthentic Fonz-like greasers). They seem to have cut down on the imagery a bit in the stuff they show in the trailer and make her a bit more vampish than in the promos.

    The older folks look more era-authentic (they actually look very good). The younger ones... There's something glaringly modern about them. The blonde girl (horrible wig), in particular--even in the trailer.

    The Ron Chaney thing is awesome, though. Both Lon, Sr. and Jr. were legends. Talk about a legacy.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009
  15. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    I tried to find a good version of the House of Frankenstein trailer online, but this is the best I could find. The trailers on the DVD itself are pretty degraded, presumably because they were run so much more often than the prints of the actual film.

    The actual print of the movie is really clean, though; most of the '40s Universal horrors are. The '30s films are grainier, and there are more attempts to emulate German expressionism. By the '40s, they pretty much did away with that, which is a shame, in my opinion. The lighting is much flatter, and they lose some of the great, dreamlike quality of that first cycle.

    You're right about the actresses looking modern-dressed-as-retro. I can accept that, though, because of budgetary constraints. That, and in some ways, it seems like people just look different from that time, generally speaking. I remember reading some opinion about Ian Fleming's vision of James Bond (resembling Hoagy Carmichael), that it was very pre-WWII. I kind of get what they were saying, in terms of facial structure, and wonder if there's something similar about the way people look now, compared to the '40s.

    I'm rambling, but I hope you guys know what I mean. Whenever there's a movie that's supposed to take place in that time, the actors rarely seem to fit that world 100%, at least in comparison to film stars of those times. If you drop someone like Tom Cruise into a '40s/'50s movie, for example, he just wouldn't look right, no matter how you do his hair and clothing.

    Maybe it's something age-specific about modern actors. Maybe 40 really is the new 30, if you're in Hollywood. :lol:
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009
  16. NileQT87

    NileQT87 Commander Red Shirt

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    You know what actually bugs me a lot about '50s retro attempts... They always get the pants wrong. It's just so uncool to wear your pants up to your navel for guys that they never seem to get actors who are willing to keep the pants there. It was cool for YOUNG guys in those days.

    A recent example was the fact that they screwed up massively with Shia in KotCS. I couldn't take my eyes off the hip-huggers (besides the fact that the film was pants). The historical accuracy was far worse than the '80s films (even Capshaw's permed '80s hair was forgivable). I remember seeing tons of pictures of extras where the guys had clearly pulled down their wide-legged pants. I'm enough of a '50s music fan that I've seen a gazillion pictures of authentic '50s wardrobe.

    As far as films that got it right, look no further than American Graffiti. Everyone seemed authentic (the utter lack of makeup, horrible lighting and some rather non-model-looking actors helped). Beefy Milner is about the most non-Hollywood version of the greaser put on film. Mackenzie Phillips really did look like an awkward, young, undeveloped teenager. Even Ron Howard had his acne on display.

    They seemed to know how to do the '50s until American Graffiti. Happy Days is about when it started getting iffy (we're still struggling to get rid of the Grease version of the '50s--an example of Broadway not getting it). A few '80s films still could manage fairly decent period films and the actors were still natural-looking enough. Now, they just are so far out of touch with the look and acting styles. The digital look that everything has today (even by people who make a big deal about using film stock) just makes it impossible for it to look right.

    Mad Men is actually more decent at authenticity than most. I heard they actually have trouble casting because they can't find enough actors who don't have perfect, unnaturally-whitened teeth, aren't too pretty or aren't so modernly skinny. There are several actors in there that definitely are inspired choices due to not being all that attractive by modern standards.

    Limited television budgets actually get closer than the bigger Hollywood productions, IMO, which is kind of funny. You take away the budget (especially on the audio-visual technological side of it), make it look relatively bland/talky/character-heavy and you actually have a shot at it looking more authentic.

    I still remember my mom making a comment about how most girls didn't have pierced ears in the '50s and most wore clip-ons. It's that sort of thing that is overlooked a lot. That and the waist-level of pants.
     
  17. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Yes, exactly. I thought those two characters looked kind of 50s. Didn't notice the Bettie Page thing somehow; I'll have to give another look.

    Actually, I've thought this many times when watching 30s movies; same thing with the voices. I've wondered if it's just a question of Natural Selection, with certain types being more fashionable with producers, casting directors and the general public in each decade.
     
  18. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Here's a look at the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake's teaser poster.

    It doesn't look like they mucked with Freddy's look too much, but I don't have a whole lot of faith in Platinum Dunes.

    Still, I bet Jackie Earle Haley will be good in the role.
     
  19. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Sigh. Another reboot. The original Nightmare On Elm Street was a great movie; no need to do it over.
     
  20. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    I don't have a problem with remakes or reboots, generally, but I haven't been too impressed with the attempts to resurrect Michael Myers, Jason, or Leatherface. Platinum Dunes was responsible for those last two, and they pretty much dropped the ball with both.

    I mean, the Friday the 13th movies aren't really all that good to begin with, and they still managed to cock up the remake. I went into it thinking naively, "Well, at least they can't really screw it up," but Platinum Dunes somehow managed. The only thing to make the experience any fun was a really good crowd.

    The only thing I'm hopeful about with this one is Jackie Earle Haley himself. But I'm fully expecting it to be disappointing overall.

    But that's getting to be par for the course with these studio horror films these days. If you want to see anything good, you have to go independent or foreign. I had fun watching Alien Raiders the other night (you just have to ignore the title, like most reviews say), and before that it was Let the Right One In.

    There you go; independent and foreign. :lol: Now I'm waiting for Dead Snow to get its DVD release, since it didn't play anywhere near me. Nazi zombies? Sign me up!