IT: You’ll Float on the Nostalgia Too

From the title of this post, you may be thinking that Metroplague was not a fan of the recent adaptation of Stephen King’s classic tome (novels are shorter), IT. If you think we didn’t love this film, you are dead wrong.

From Bill Skarsgard stepping up his game as an actor to the excellent cast of young actors filling out iconic characters, IT could be the 2017 horror film that de-thrones Get Out for mass popularity. I’m not going to get into a heavy synopsis of the movie, just know that if you’ve seen the old ABC miniseries or read the novel, you get the gist.

Nostalgia Horror is the New Rage

The original story of IT takes place in the 1950s, which gave it a nostalgia factor for the 80’s adults who could have been young kids at that time. The 2017 film takes place in the late 80’s which is perfect for triggering the nostalgia of a modern audience that is eager to look back fondly on movies like Stand By Me, The Goonies, and Nightmare On Elm Street.

With many movies and television series, it is clear that modern directors are aiming to hit that sweet spot between being terrorized by what’s on the screen and picking out which character was “so you” when you were a kid. I like to call this Nostalgia Horror. Stranger Things did it, and I’m sure the upcoming Monster Squad reboot will do the same.

IT hits all of the marks to trigger nostalgia with its 80’s references and simply by having a group of kids that were very diverse and really could have been any of us at one time.

IT Goes for Creep Factor and Scores!

Niebolt Street
The house on Niebolt Street where something sinister dwells…

A lot of complaints that I have heard about the movie are that it wasn’t scary enough. If you look back at the original, neither was that rendition. Tim Curry was chilling as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, but he had an air of comedy to his performance that made it unique and powerful when the creepiness did finally set in.

Yes, this movie has moments that could potentially ruin a child, but may not scare the seasoned adult viewer. Skarsgard’s performance as Pennywise was creepy in the sense that when he spoke there was a very child molester vibe in the scene. When he did get to where he needed to scare an audience, the direction went to the creepy imagery that the movie delivers, rather than something that could be viewed as traditionally scary.

This approach is what made the movie so special. With the creepy imagery, you were sucked down the rabbit hole that these kids were walking into. I feel that if the movie had just been scary for scary’s sake, a lot of the heart that was present in the final cut would just seem hollow.

There was that One Thing….

The movie did take some liberties to the story that we were glad were not present in the story. Can anyone say “orgy?”

No movie can be perfect, and this was no exception. There are two characters present in the movie that had their roles switched from the original story and I think this hurts the film. This is a very minor spoiler.

In the original story, Ben was a book nerd with a dead Dad, and Mike was an outcast black kid who was obsessed with chronicling the history of their town Derry.

The original story has Mike being one of the smartest and most prolific characters because he holds the knowledge that pushes the group forward.

In this movie, the roles were reversed. Ben was the history buff, and Mike was really just left to be a kid in the background. I was pretty disappointed with this choice because I feel like Ben’s original story arc had enough room to grow without stealing Mike’s thunder.

Metroplague Wants to Know Your Thoughts!

This is just one man’s opinion on the movie IT, which at this point in time is certified fresh and has already surpassed Deadpool’s  record breaking opening Thursday night numbers. We want to know what you thought about the movie. Was it everything you wanted it to be? Would you have added anything? Let Metroplague know in the comments below.

Examining Indie Horror with The Monkey Farm

Independent filmmaking is something that pretty much anyone can get into these days. With easy to access technology, affordable cameras, and proven success with prior filmmakers at national film festivals, indie horror seems like the best way to get one’s foot in Hollywood’s extremely selective door.

Metroplague recently got our claws on a preview screening of Catch Me Kill Me Production’s latest found footage horror film, The Monkey Farm. Although readers won’t be able to see this film anytime soon, we, at Metroplague thought this would be a great opportunity to not only “review” the film, but examine independent filmmakers, and the horror genre so many of them dwell in.

Indie Horror Needs Originality

With a title like The Monkey Farm the mind automatically shoots to thoughts of King Kong or Planet of the Apes, both of which have had screen time this summer. While TMF does feature a primate as its main antagonist, it keeps its story grounded in original ideas.

TMF’s story centers on a documentary film crew uncovering the evils of animal testing. Their trail leads them to the said location where the team quickly discovers that they are in way over their heads.

Independent filmmakers tend to get in over their heads when they strive for originality in a script. Yes, the concept of animal testing is new, but the idea of chasing a local boogeyman fable, while interesting, is not new, and could easily stumble into familiar territory.

TMF had a lot of original plot going for it and would get itself going on a nice slow burn, only to have one too many Rob Zombie references thrown in, taking the viewer out of the experience and leaving them wondering, “Now where have I heard that line before?”

With indie horror, homages are always welcome and can be a great way to draw in fans, but keeping your story away from the tropes of recent horror is the best way to keep the fans that you draw in.

Tip: For a great example of homage mixed with originality, check out CMKM Production’s 2016 film Fireside Tales

Indie Acting can be a Problem

One of the biggest issues with independent film, in general, is that indie filmmakers often run their ships on a tight budget and get their aspiring pals to star in their movies. This often results in shoddy acting and having the believability of the moment sucked out as if by a vacuum.

TMF, however, does not suffer this fate. Where the story is shaky, or when one line seems a little too familiar to the ears, a regular viewer will skim over it because the delivery was that spot-on. We have been following TMF Director, Ian Messenger for years and he has seemed to have learned a lesson that many indie horror filmmakers do not.

Is Less More?

Finally, we come to the idea that less is more, and everybody today wants to see a ‘slow burn.’ These types of horror films are good but can be difficult to pull off. It can be disheartening to sit through a two-hour feature, only to see the antagonist in the last 15 minutes of the runtime. Even big budget pictures like It Comes at Night and Digging Up the Marrow suffer from these issues.

TMF was entertaining and had some great lore behind it, but personally, the viewers who watched our private screening were hoping for more of the creature than what was presented. The effects on this creature were extremely cool, so it left us questioning if less was really worth it in this instance.

Support Indie Horror

No movie is perfect, and how good it really lies in the eye of the viewer. If you have not yet done so, subscribe to CMKM Production’s YouTube channel and enjoy their behind-the-scenes antics, teasers, and more. When TMF is available for rent, you bet we will push it out. This is a film, that should be seen for the craftsmanship alone. The dedication of Messenger and his crew show throughout, we just wish we had seen more of the terror that was promised.

Review: The Blackwell Ghost

The Blackwell Ghost ReviewWith shows I used to love like Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters fading from popularity among viewers due to obvious stunts or just the cheese factor, it was a bit refreshing to see a film like The Blackwell Ghost show up on my recommended feed.  At first glance, I thought this would be a film along the lines of Grave Encounters or other movies of the genre that try to emulate the feeling of watching a “true” documentary ghost show gone wrong.  In fact, I was sure that’s what it was, even after performing some light research before spending 3 dollars on the Amazon rental.  I mean, no one is making real documentaries about ghosts!  This couldn’t be the ONE true documentary where the shit hits the fan and it’s all caught on film……right?

I won’t go into too much detail on the plot since this documentary (which is what I will continue to call it) only clocks in at a tight 59 minutes.  This is a story about an average Joe who just really wants to find proof that ghosts or an afterlife exist.  The protagonist meets a man who claims to live in a haunted house in suburbia Pennsylvania.  The protagonist and his wife are invited to stay a few days to investigate, and that is our setup. This is a dude, with a normal wife, with normal equipment.  There are no gimmicky heat sensors or voice boxes used here folks.  This documentary takes ghost hunting back to its roots with a few handheld cameras, night vision effects, and nothing else.  Think Paranormal Activity (the good one), but you just never really know if the whole thing is a farce or not.

This is a documentary about a normal dude, with a normal wife, with normal equipment.  There are no gimmicky heat sensors or voice boxes used here folks.  This documentary takes ghost hunting back to its roots with a few handheld cameras, night vision effects, and nothing else.  Think Paranormal Activity (the good one), but you just never really know if the whole thing is a farce or not.

In the beginning, I just thought the main character was a doofus and played it up too normal to be believed.  But then, the documentary uses actual examples of “ghosts on film” that have gone viral over the years and sucks the viewer into this world of mystery and, believe it or not, hope, that this other world exists.  I’ll post one of the examples used in the documentary that we all probably know as enthusiasts of the paranormal.

Like I said, this documentary only has a runtime of 59 minutes, so I will not get into the details but head straight into my final thoughts.  If you are remotely interested in the subject matter of ghost hunting, do yourself a favor and rent this movie today.  It has laughs, genuine moments of fear, excellent lore, and the end of it all is truly nail biting without being over the top.  This is a VERY believable movie.

The funny part is, I have been having a hard time trying to find out further information that would lead to my knowing whether it is fact or fiction.  Honestly, I’m okay with either way and have opted to stop digging.  This was a very fun time and even watching it during the day, I was extremely uneasy.

Funny personal note:  After the documentary ended, there was a crash in one of the back rooms of our house.  Being the tough man that I am, I looked at my wife and told her to look. This movie got to me, and that is why I highly recommend it.

This is not a jump scare movie, nor one with a big budget at all.  It is a very simple haunted house documentary that achieves its goal of telling a great story and scaring the pants off of viewers.

Take out your three bucks and put it towards The Blackwell Ghost.  You won’t regret it.

Blood Drive Episode Recap: Welcome to Pixie Swallow

Pixie Swallows, AZ…where the Corn Dogs are cut fresh.
Photo credit: Syfy

Last week was the bloody and brilliant premiere of Syfy’s latest television series “Blood Drive.”  Metroplague was thrilled to be introduced to gritty yet fun characters like Grace D’Argento, The Gentleman, Julian Slink, and The Scholar.  Other main characters like Arthur Bailey and Christopher Carson (Thomas Dominique) fell a bit short on the excitement scale; but luckily for Syfy, boring characters are in short supply in the world of “Blood Drive.”

Episode two, “Welcome to Pixie Swallow” opens up with the introduction of customers enjoying their meals at the hoppin’ Arizona food joint, Pixie Swallow Diner; a restaurant connected to the local motel.  An upbeat, attractive, blonde waitress is shown serving meat dishes, flirting with customers, and making out with the janitor before stepping into the diner’s backroom kitchen where the audience sees the chef, her father, grinding a human leg into a meat grinder (Not a spoiler, this was in the episode preview on the network).  It is now clear that viewers are in for the cannibal content that can only be enjoyed in a Grindhouse production setting.

After the credits, it is discovered that the competitors of the annual Blood Drive have deemed Pixie Swallow as the latest stopping point to “refuel,” relax and imbibe for the night.  With this introduction to the episode’s setting, our protagonists, Arthur and Grace step in for a bite to eat.  Arthur is still intent on exposing Heart Industries after finding out they are pulling the strings behind not only the Blood Drive but society itself.  Grace is still intent on winning the race prize money to help her sister Karma, who the audience still knows little about.  Despite their risque achievement during the “climax” of episode one, both characters are still at opposite ends of the moral spectrum.  Without any spoilers, very quickly madness and cannibalistic violence ensue, and our “heroes” are forced to step up and save another member of the Blood Drive after the family of cannibals has tampered with their vehicle.

This episode also included two subplots; one involving Julian Slink, the other, centers on the fate of Chris Carson, who was captured by a secret society at the end of episode one.  Both of these stories were among the weakest portions of the episode when there really could have been more focus on the Blood Drive competitors war with the cannibal clan.

Julian Slink, at your service, for better or worse.
Photo Credit: Syfy

Carson’s plot point was completely unnecessary and trivial, coming off as an attempt at the show’s creators to make a dull character more interesting.  Unless Carson’s misadventures in the secret lair of the baddies lead to a major turning point, it may have been better to just off the character in the previous episode.

Slink’s solo venture in the plot makes sense since he technically broke the rules and allowed Grace and Arthur to live after their loss during the first leg of the Blood Drive.  The meat of Slink’s portion of the episode involves him in Heart Industries waiting room where audiences get a comedic glimpse at the depths of depravity this character is willing to go in order to get his way.

The Good:

Chef Carl grinding up the latest Filet…
Photo Credit: Syfy

The entire portion of the episode involving Pixie Swallow and the inhabitants of the diner was highly entertaining and gave viewers the violent spectacle that was expected after the pilot episode.  There was also quite a bit of body humor (pun intended) that just worked for the plot and made a tense situation for the protagonists a good time.

The latter half of Slink’s storyline was also filled with dark humor and violence but unfortunately, the action came a little too late, but not by any fault of this sections plot.

One of the shining characters on the show is Grace D’Argento, played so slickly by Christina Ochoa.  In each scene she is in, Ochoa brings a presence that fans of Grindhouse cinema will clamor for in hopes for more.  With each one liner, innuendo, or kick-ass fight scene, Ochoa proves she was born for the genre.

The Bad:

While the pilot episode shined with a look that went beyond the average Syfy production, something about the camera quality and direction seemed different and off this episode.   It wasn’t terrible production quality, but it was obvious that more money was spent on the pilot episode than “Welcome to Pixie Swallow.”  Hopefully, this was just an episodic fluke and audiences will have the slick look of the pilot episode back in no time.

Another area that hurt the show every now and then was Arthur’s dialogue.  Yes, Grindhouse dialogue is meant to be cheesy, but it wasn’t the cheese that smelled bad, it was Ritchson’s delivery of his serious lines.

While this episode overall had quite a few low points, these bad marks should not be enough to bring the Blood Drive to a screeching halt.  Sure the transmission of the show stumbled a bit this episode, but audiences were promised a deeper look into Grace’s interesting past in episode three.

Look out for weekly recaps and thoughts from Metroplague as “Blood Drive” plays out its first season.  Be sure to catch the show on Syfy Wednesday nights at 10 PM EST/9 PM CST or on Syfy.com.

Blood Drive Episode Recap: The F…ing Cop

Syfy has not been known to produce anything remotely close to top-quality when it comes to their original productions, and frankly, that’s fine.  It’s Syfy for crying out loud, the television channel that spawned production companies like The Asylum.  However, with their latest venture into shock value entertainment, Blood Drive, they may just have a gem on their hands.  With a title that promises violence, Syfy delivers the blood in bulk, and that is not the only good thing to say about this production.

Metroplague is proud to cover recaps of this show for its dear readers without spoiling any of the gory details.  So, for the first episode, titled The F…ing Cop, here is a brief rundown of the story.

The setting for Blood Drive is a dystopian 1999.  Seemingly most of humanity has gone to hell in a handbasket and even the cops perform their duties with an air of bloodlust.  Enter Arthur (Alan Ritchson), the “last good cop in Los Angeles,” who stumbles upon the opening ceremonies of the nastiest race in the nation, Blood Drive.

One scene leads to another and Arthur is forced against his will to participate in the race with his equally unwilling partner, badass, sailor-mouthed, Grace D’Argento (Christina Ochoa).  The two must now race to the finish of the competition, where human body parts are used for fuel, and one of the main rules is “do what you like to the competition, just don’t purposely kill them.”

The inaugural episode finds our two protagonists on their first race from Los Angeles to Arizona.  On the way, Arthur and Grace share some witty banter that is placed just to show Arthur is the “good guy” and Grace is our anti-hero that we are all going to root for.  The two characters cross paths with fellow competition, “The Gentleman” and “The Scholar,” cheesy dialogue and more insanity ensue, with a climax that really pushes this show to an extreme that most audiences may see coming but still be surprised about.

Christina Ochoa, playing the mysterious lead, Grace D’Argento.
Photo Credit: Collider
The Good: For a Syfy produced show, it is obvious that some care was put into the production value of Blood Drive.  This show looks, for the most part, like a movie of the Grindhouse genre that it is striving to fall under.  With over-the-top characters that have names like “Slink,” and “Fat Elvis,” Blood Drive really blends into the genre with ease.

The special effects are also top notch, and audiences will find themselves wincing with gross-out pleasure throughout.

Grace and Slink (the ringleader played devilishly by Colin Cunningham), are two characters that are sure to be developed in some interesting ways as the show drives along.

The Bad:  At first glance of the synopsis, Blood Drive really seems like The Asylum’s version of Death Race 2000 or its more modern re-boots.  From the racing theme in general to some of the devices used to keep racers in line with the rules, the similarities could throw some people out of the show’s overall originality, and turn them off completely.

This is meant to be a Grindhouse show, but some of the acting from the supporting characters, one of which is sure to be recurring, was just flat-out bad.  Fortunately, the showrunners were intelligent enough to keep these poorly acted pieces to a minimum, taking up 5-7 minutes of the hour-long spectacle.

Just fueling up!
Photo Credit: Yahoo
The Ugly: Okay, this is it, let’s talk violence and language.  The lengths that Syfy is able to go with both areas in Blood Drive are astounding.  This show really straddles the line between standard cable and premium pay channel content.  In the first episode alone, 7 F-bombs were dropped, multiple faces were mutilated, and there were no less than 4 sexual situations.  This show is definitely not one to watch with the kids, and viewers really ought to know what they are getting into before jumping into the passenger seat of this show.  Sex, Blood, and Rock n’ Roll are what Blood Drive is all about, and if Grindhouse entertainment is what viewers are scrambling for, the first episode delivers in bulk.

Look out for weekly recaps and thoughts as Blood Drive plays out its first season.  Be sure to catch the show on Syfy Wednesday nights at 10 PM EST/9 PM CST.

This Ain’t Your Childhood Mummy Movie

 

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
Metroplague was lucky enough to catch a late night advanced screening of Universal’s “first” foray into their Dark Universe, The Mummy.  Going into this movie we had seen critics and other fans alike jump all over this movie like a plague of locusts.  Based on the buzz, we thought it was going to be bad and went in with the lowest expectations possible for the latest reimagining of the classic story.   Continue reading “This Ain’t Your Childhood Mummy Movie”

Help Us Shape the Future of Metroplague

I want YOU to make US better!

Since we started Metroplague a mere two weeks ago, it has already been a whirlwind of a journey with SO much support from the Goth and arts communities on a local, national and international level.  We have now simply become Metroplague.com and have several new topics coming your way.  Continue reading “Help Us Shape the Future of Metroplague”