Predator 2

*Originally written in 2004

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The race of Predators returns to earth in this sequel to the 1987 sci-fi hit, deciding to stalk its prey in a city rather than a jungle. The claustrophobia is gone, along with the politics and the Schwarzenegger, but the amount of victims is vastly increased in this inferior, but often overlooked sequel.

The film is set in LA. It is an increasingly hot summer and gang warfare, crime, and murder is on the up. The LAPD wages a constant battle against the scum, but it seems a vigilante is wiping out some of the biggest criminals. Danny Glover stars as Lieutenant Mike Harrigan, who with his small team- Danny, Leona, and Jerry – is trying to find out who is causing these deaths, as well as keeping an eye on the chaos around them. As his team closes in on the killer, the feds tell him to back off, so he knows there is something big going on. When his team members and others continue to be slaughtered, he catches a glimpse of the killer – The Predator – who can become invisible at the touch of a button, and wipe out anyone with ease. Gary Busey from the feds, and his team (including Robert Davi) attempt to catch The Predator but fail, and  the creature sets its sights on Glover as its next victim. A final encounter approaches, but it may not take place on Harrigan’s terms.

Predator 2 is a letdown after the first film was so good. The action, tension and excitement here is toned down and inferior, but luckily it is still above average. We lose Arnie, but Glover does well as the cop with a fighting spirit. The supporting cast is good, Alonso is feisty, Paxton is as good as always but not given as much to do as I would have liked, Busey is his usual offbeat self, as is Davi, and Blades is okay. However, the sense of teamwork that should have been present, that was a strong part of the original, is gone. There are many good visual effects here, improving in some ways on the original, and The Predator has a few new and interesting weapons at his disposal. It just lacks the spark of the original though, and does not create much excitement. The dialogue is not as good, average action stuff, and the direction is solid but does not have the style and grasp of technique that McTiernen has. A good action/sci-fi movie with plenty of violence and fun, but a let down sequel which deserved to be better.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Predator 2!

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2017 – In Memoriam

We’re here, at the end of another year. 2016 was reportedly ‘one of the worst years ever’ – by December’s end, everyone was depressed by all the Trump, by all the Brexit, by all the everything. It was a year where people from many generations felt their childhoods slip away for ever, felt pieces of themselves die as successful heroes passed out of life and into whatever comes next. 2017 has been no joke either, with more Trump, more Brexit, and more everything seemingly tightening the noose. The Grim Reaper’s scythe has once again swung with abandon, claiming many of the lives who have had a wide spreadh impact on various aspects of culture. Make no mistake – War, Disease, Famine have all claimed the usual millions of souls as they are wont to do, and those are battles we should be working together to overcome, but that is not the purpose of this post.

I haven’t been paying much attention to my Shrine posts recently, so I decided to do a yearly wrap up instead of the deaths which affected me in some way, on a personal level. Naturally that means that we’ll mostly be covering famous people here. I don’t mean this to sound as if I’m putting the famous on a pedestal, as if their lives mean more than some random mother or son who may have died this year – I firmly believe that every life is as valuable as the next. Yet here I am. In the end it comes down to who I ‘know’ or recognise.

Don’t be annoyed or disheartened if some celebrity who meant a lot to you and who died this year isn’t on the list – as I said, these are the people who meant something to me. By all means, add those who meant something to you in the comments. In the end, this is merely a place for you to give a few words, thoughts, thanks, or memories for those who have fallen.

William Peter Blatty – 7th January 1928 – 13th January 2017

Thanks for giving me, and countless others, many nights of unsettled sleep with The Exorcist.

Miguel Ferrer – February 7, 1955 – January 19, 2017

Thank you for being a perminent fixture in some of my most watched and loved entertainment of all time. You may be the only actor who has starred in both one of my favourite movies ever (Robocop), one of my favourite mini-series ever (The Stand), and one of my favourite TV shows ever (Twin Peaks). 

John Hurt – 22 January 1940 – 25 January 2017

Thank you for your willingness to ignore and balk at traditional acting conventions by appearing in cult works, low budget films, and Television, along with the more accepted critical fodder – for Alien, for Spaceballs, for The Elephant Man, for Hellboy, and many more.

Richard Hatch – May 21, 1945 – February 7, 2017

Thanks for being the original Apollo in Battlestar Gallactica – I’m not as familiar with your other work, but for that I’ll always remember you.

Bill Paxton – May 17, 1955 – February 25, 2017

Thanks for being a true movie legend and for appearing in many of my personal favourite films – The Terminator, Aliens, Near Dark, Commando, Tombstone, True Lies, Frailty, and bringing a truly unique energy and life to them.

Chuck Berry – October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017

One of the forefathers or modern blues, rock, and by extension, metal, thanks for bringing many decades of wonderful music to the world.

Clifton James – May 29, 1920 – April 15, 2017

Thanks for bringing me many laughs in my younger days, especially in the Bond movies, and also for sterling work in a few of my other favourites.

Jonathan Demme – February 22, 1944 – April 26, 2017

One of the few filmmakers to make a critically respected and award winning horror movie in The Silence Of The Lambs, thanks for breaking those boundaries.

Michael Parks – April 24, 1940 – May 9, 2017

Even though he had been acting regularly since the late 50s, Parks became better known in later decades thanks to his work with Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino – thanks for many terrific performances in many terrific films.

Powers Boothe – June 1, 1948 – May 14, 2017

A character actor with great action pedigree, thanks for appearing in some of my favourites such as Tombstone, Extreme Prejudice, Sin City.

Chris Cornell – July 20, 1964 – May 18, 2017

Although Soundgarden were my fourth favourite out of Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, Cornell was nevertheless a driving force in rock and grunge with unmistakable vocals which have been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember.

Nicky Hayden – July 30, 1981 – May 22, 2017

My dad rides motorbikes. My brother rides a motorbike. Many of my uncles and cousins are bikers. I have dabbled. I live on the same street as the family of my countries most famous motorcyclists and our kids are friends. We all watch motorcycling – none of that F1 shite. Any time any biker dies it’s a tragedy, and Nicky was a particularly heavy loss.

Sir Roger George Moore, KBE (14 October 1927 – 23 May 2017)

I was a Bond fan before I really understood what films were, and Moore was my era. It is typically the Moore films I return to most for their lighter approach and tendency towards action and humour. Moore will always be Bond for me, and while he didn’t have the most varied career outside of that role, he still popped up in many other films and shows and was renowned for being a decent human being.

Adam West (September 19, 1928 – June 9, 2017)

The original Batman… well I’ve heard varying reports on what he was like in real life, but I’m mainly here to focus on their work and what it meant to me – I was never a huge fan of the original campy series, but I still watched it every now and then when I was young. Thanks for being a mainstay on TV and for your great voice work on many shows.

John G Avildson – (December 21, 1935 – June 16, 2017)

Thanks for making some of my favourite films in the Rocky and Karate Kid series as well as a few other notable movies.

Martin Landau – (June 20, 1928 – July 15, 2017)

Thanks for appearing in some of my favourite movies and shows ever, from North By Northwest and The Twilight Zone to Ed Wood and The X Files, and of course for bringing your daughter Juliet into the world.

George A Romero – February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017

There have been fewer bigger influences on my love of horror, and on the wider horror world than George A Romero, the man who essentially invented the modern zombie genre – thanks for that, thanks for your movies, and thanks for never compromising for The Man.

Sean Hughes – 10 November 1965 – 16 October 2017

Sean, aside from Coronation Street I don’t think I ever saw any of your non- Buzzcocks work. I’m not a huge stand-up comedy fan, but you always made me laugh on Buzzcocks. 

Feel free to leave your thoughts and memories of any people we lost in 2017 in the comments below.

Near Dark Is Da Scariest Film Of Da Day!

This film was so scary I could barely watch. I like horror movies, but not scary ones. It has a very clever idea, and it is set mostly at that time of the day which is near dark, hence thy name. It is not dark, it is not light, it is not in between. Just those few moments before they sun is finally swallowed by all encompassing darkness. I suppose I was so scared by this movie as this has always been the time of day I was most scared of. Me and my bro Andy when we were younger both hated this time of day. Day time was okay because there were only wasps to worry about, and at least you could see any spiders that were trying to get you. Night time could be bad as you couldn’t see any spiders, and night time is when all the baddies come out. This was compensated by the fact that once it was dark we would go to bed, and when you hid under the sheets nothing could get you. But being Near Dark- ARGGGH! The baddies could sneak out and get you before you went to bed and the spiders are hungriest around that time. I decided to watch this film to overcome my fear of this hour and when I heard it was about vampires I thought it might be enjoyamatic.

This is a film about a cowboy who meets a family of gypsy vampires romping through the deserts of New York. One of them is a sexy feline girl and they fall for each other. He decides to join the vampires so he can be with the girl, but doesn’t realise that being a vampire has consequences- you have to kill and eat people’s brains; you can’t have garlic on your pizza; you have to wear black or you look like a tool; you think you can fly but really it’s your vampire mind playing tricks on you, and when you try throwing yourself off a building you always land in a bush and get nettle stings; you smell like dust. He decides that he can’t be a vampire and wants to change back with the girl. Naturally the rest of the family aren’t happy. In fang, they are biting back! They vant blood! Hudson, Bishop, Vasquez, and Short Round are the real vampires and they hunt the pair down, killing innocent people and creating scary moments which I couldn’t watch; Someone hears a scratching at a window and looks out- phew it’s only a rat. They turn round only to see the vampires inside their house! BOO! The main guy is watching TV, he sees Bishop (the matriarch of the family played horrifyingly by Lance Armstrong) on the news commenting on a local tragedy. The main man is concerned. Suddenly Bishop jumps through the TV into the living room! The main guy’s little sister is being chased by Short Round in a mine cart throwing stones at her and biting at her neck, just missing by millimetres. She escapes when his cart tips over and she runs home. She closes the door, locks it, sprinkles holy water over it, sets garlic all over the door, puts crosses on it, and gets her dad to stand beside her with a shotgun. They turn round only to find Shorty (played with real vengeance by Data) in their living room! These moments were about as much as I could handle. Suffice to say there is a big battle scene where all the cowboys and vampires fight through the desert, into a local bar, and finally the survivors face off in the living room. There are good special graphics used here, the best since Lords Of The Ring, but not quite as good as The Land That Tim Forgot. Seeing thousands, perhaps even hundreds of vampires and cowboys clashing is truly a sight to behave, but I had to watch it from behind my book and through my fingers. The bit with the pub was quite intense, very much quite. Hudson dances with a corpse and stalks his victims with a smile before kicking their throats open and impaling them on his long, hard, pool cue. This is not for the faint minded or open hearted and I found it quite upsetting. He quips the whole way through-  ‘chicken lickin’ good!’ he shouts, and ‘no way man, no way!’ and of course when speaking of his vamp biting skills he comments ‘I could suck start a leaf blower!’ Luckily it all ends OK because the vampires see the error of their ways and set themselves on fire in the motel living room, and the dad makes his son and the girl drink a cup of anti blood to make them better.

Best Scene: When the sun finally rises at the end and we know it’s safe to get out of bed.

Aliens: Not nearly as good as the First, very dark

Riply Scott’s prequel to this film was a tale of intergalactic terror. Seven friends and their Bumbling Side-kick Jones were travelling home after a long vacation when they encountered a monster. Hearing its distress call, they let it board their ship, but rather than show its gratitude, it decided to kill off the friends one by one in a terrifying game of cat and monster. The survivors from that film appear again here, namely Captain Ridley and of course Jonesy our heroic side kick. Ridley wants revenge for the death of her friends and recruits a team of super tough marines (that’s soldiers to the lay person) to go to their home planet and wipe out the monsters once and for all. This darker tone is in stark contrast to Riply Scott’s original, and it continues throughout. This leads to a series of let downs- Jones disappears without explanation early in the film, without explanation so much of the comedy from the first film is lost. Add to this the lack of Cyborg Ash, whose little dance was a hilarious highlight of the first, and there are few laughs to be found here. Bill Pullman’s marine Ernie ‘Dry Heat’ Hudson attempts some improvised one liners ‘Hey Vasquez- you look like a man!’ and tries some banter with his Sergeant. ‘Can I wear your slippers, Sir?’ he asks ‘LOOK AT MY EYES!’ Capone riplyies. I didn’t really understand this comeback, but I assume The Searg was in no mood for fun and games. This is obviously because the film was under the fierce stranglehold of famous control freak Jim Cameroon, known for a lack of humour in all his films. Cameroon reluctantly casts Paxman in all his films as they’re cousins and there is a definite tension between the comic genius of the actor, and the ultra serious ‘I’m The Daddy’ mentality of the Director.

Ridley and crew fly down to the planet to hunt down the monsters but are shocked to find a survivor- a little boy called Newt. This is a deliberate attempt to soften the almost unrelenting darkness of the film, and possibly bring in a wider female audience who may enjoy the mother/son relationship which develops between Ridley and Nuke. The child doesn’t talk much which in fact adds to the bleak tone, and the fact that he carries around a decapitated doll’s head is rather disturbing. I mean, everyone knows boys don’t play with dolls. Newt mumbles things like (in response to Ridley asking if he’s hungry) ‘I’m mostly scared. Mostly’ and the bizarre ‘Hi, Firmative!’. Presumably Firmative is some imaginary friend, or possibly futuristic slang. Throw into the mix the fact that among the marines is a geeky science geek who wants to steal one of the monster eggs to bring home and experiment on or sell or something. Indeed, he hatches a plan to impregnate one of the gang with the egg so that no-one suspects anything. I think if I woke up with an 8 foot monster mounting me in an attempt to give me its seed, I might suspect something was not right. But back to the film. The gang underestimates the sheer number of the monsters (at least 25) and the fact that their King is on the island too, and soon it is the humans that are on the run. Cameroon is clearly adding a subtext here about man’s destruction of nature and of other species, and that eventually it will turn around and we will be on the receiving end. I have studied film studies for at least a year, and have over a year’s experience in social anthbiology, so I know what I’m talking about. The last half of the film is really a series of chase scenes- in the alien base with tanks etc, in a bedroom with spider monsters, through the living quarters, and then into the sewers until The King wakes up. That’s not to mention the super robot fight at the end which was a precursor to Cameroon’s next film Terminator 2. So yes, there is much action and excitement, and lots of mistrust between characters which lends another level of tension.

Most of the characters are killed off, but all fight well and you really feel like you got to know them. Ridley is a true mother- fighting for her family and friends, strapping on a grenade launcher to take on the bullies, Hudson is a comedian but also a bit of a moaner, Capone, Hick, and Vasquez are all super tough and ultra cool. There is also Bishop, a cyborg who doesn’t dance but preaches the Gospel and does magic tricks with knives. Perhaps if Riply had directed this he would have let some more comedy in, and it would have been a stronger film. At times I wanted to jump into the TV, grab a gun and help out my chums, pumping bullets into skulls. ‘Come on, man! Shoot them! Here they come, quick, let’s blow them away and get out of here! ARRGH!’ I would have been shouting like that. Because the film is so dark and depressing though, I didn’t have the energy to jump in and help. So all I could do was sit back and watch each of my friends get eaten, killed, or worse. Overall this is an excitement film, but Cameroon needs to relax and let some light in. I mean what’s the point in having all these characters only for the planet to blow up at the end and kill them all?

Best Scene: When the soldiers are walking through the alien corridors, and all the bleeps are getting closer, but no-one knows where they’re coming from. It was quite scary, but would have been better if Hudson had jumped out with his underpants on his head and shouted ‘ONLY ME!!!’

GAME OVER, MAN!