Nightman Listens To – Bon Jovi – What About Now!

What About Now (album) - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! I’ve now listened to two ‘new’ Bon Jovi albums with Lost Highway and The Circle with the general consensus being that I thought they were better than I was expecting, particularly the latter. With today’s listen-though, I haven’t even heard of the album title before and know absolutely nothing about the songs or music or style. I was aware that Richie Sambora left the band at some point, but it turns out that this was the last album he worked on with the band. I don’t know anything about the background or his reasons for leaving the group, but maybe that has some sort of effect on how the album sounds. I don’t know, I’m clutching straws. I don’t think that, even though I was pleased with the last two albums, that I’m going to raise my expectations in any way so I’m still placing the bar quite low for this one. Let’s do this.

Because We Can‘ has a very poppy opening – lots of layered vocals and keyboards, light on the guitars. John’s vocals sound a little strange, not sure if they were being tweaked in the studio. I quite like the verse melody, it’s an easy ear worm while the chorus has lyrics which are easy to remember and sing along with. It feels like a dedicated attempt at making waves in the charts and it’s quite a distance from their harder rock roots.

I’m With You‘ is more like what we know from the band, even if they guitars lack whatever bite they may have once had. I’m happy they’ve returned to a focus on melody, something they had slipped a little from but have grown back into in the last album. I am drawn more to the verse melodies on this one, same as the first, and in the chorus here the mass vocals feel over produced and possibly modified a little from how they originally sounded.

What About Now‘ is the title track, and sounds like another obvious single. It’s much more generic and middle of the road than the first two songs, but it’s still going to appeal to their core fan group. It’s a little more emotive in the second verse but I don’t see it having the power to draw in any new fans.

Pictures Of You‘ continues the full melodic sound. The songs may lack punch and are ever more pandering towards fans of the softer side but they’re not overly repetitive in terms of this album yet. This is sweet enough, obviously another love song but with a fast enough tempo to keep it out of ballad territory. If you already like the band, you’ll enjoy this. If you don’t like them, this will be more evidence. It’s not strong enough to convert any newbs if we compare it to their big hits.

Amen‘ is straight into ballad land, starting with an acoustic guitar as soft as a harp and lots of loving metaphors. There’s not much to it – the odd swell of strings and organ as it proceeds, but very simple and not any new ideas. Once the vocals and strings soar it gets better, but he needed to take the vocals one notch higher – in the past he would have. One for the ladies… just not enough force to get it into that A class of ballads.

That’s What The Water Made Me‘ increases the pace once more with a clattering of drums. More poppy melodies, very commercial, very much ticking all those ‘how to make a hit’ boxes without hitting the ‘how to make a classic’ ones. It’s fine and another great song for existing fans.

Whats Left Of Me‘ is more of Jon aligning himself with or imagining himself as the working man, and jotting down his thoughts on blue collar life. There’s an ever so quiet hint of Nashville similar to what they were doing a couple of albums ago. No new ground here and not strong enough of a copy to make any impact.

Army Of One‘ opens with a drum beat which should be familiar to most Bon Jovi fans. The organ grows as the vocals prepare for an anthem of some description. The guitars and bass join in slowly but the sudden chorus blast breaks this rhythm and any crescendo falls apart. The chorus is too simplistic and repetitive to drive its point home with any conviction. Instead it sadly comes across as the sort of attempt at an anthem or rallying call that a one year’s success boy band’s manager would devise. It’s supposed to be inspirational and I hope it reaches the ears of those who need it and who it would work for, but it misses the mark wildly for me.

Thick As Thieves‘ feels like a more honest ballad. There’s a dual keyboard and organ, smooth in your eye vocals, and a slow pace. It’s touching, I can see it working for most fans. It’s not perfect, it doesn’t have the emotional peaks I look for in ballads, instead going for a more matter of fact approach. Their existing fans who prefer the ballads will surely adore this too.

Beautiful World‘ gets the pace back on track, though we’re hardly getting out of third gear. Plenty more hooks, more positivity, and another big chorus with enough bounce and energy to serve it well in the live environment. There are quite a few songs on the album which feel like singles, but none of them would crack the band’s own top twenty or my personal favourites.

Room At The End Of The World‘ starts with great promise – straight in with no messing or elaborate intro. The melody and atmosphere I look for are there and it feels like it’s building towards something interesting. The chorus hits and it’s… well it’s like any number of the band’s choruses in their previous ten years. They’re very interchangeable and don’t stand apart from the crowd. I keep saying it, but long time fans shouldn’t mind.

The Fighter‘ draws the album to a close. It starts with promise – uncomplicated guitar which Jon follows with his vocal melody. It’s very sweet and the lyrics aren’t as obvious. The chorus for once feels like an extension of the verse and melody rather than an attempt to sound as commercial as possible. A pleasing ending.

Well, another good album better than what a cynic like me would be expecting. It doesn’t leap out of the stereo, it doesn’t challenge, but it does give fans what they want. It’s wonderful for the fans that the band keeps giving the fans what they want and that the band are happy to keep doing what they do. They’re probably doing what they do better than anyone else, even if they’re not doing it as well as they used to. That’s the part which is to be expected as few artists can continually reinvent themselves or get progressively better. Most hit a peak and stay there or tumble off the other side into oblivion. Maybe there are songs here with the strength and quality to bring in new fans, if only the listeners had regular easy access, but as healthy and fun as most of the songs will be for existing fans I don’t see the audience growing. On a personal note there are fewer songs that I’d chose to listen to again than on the previous album, but I was never really the target audience.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Because We Can. I’m With You. The Fighter.

Let us know what you think of What About Now in the comments!

Knock Knock

I’ve mentioned it before on the blog, but I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Eli Roth. I love his enthusiasm, and the films he makes are generally made with love and have solid ideas driving them, but the execution is almost always lacking and he seems to give up part way through and inject unnecessary humour. I have nothing against humour in horror, but his always falls flat. Knock Knock is a remake of the notorious, yet little known 70s exploitation film Death Game – but is it a film which allows Roth’s strengths to overcome his weaknesses?

The film begins promisingly enough – Reeves is playing a wealthy husband and father who lives in a post modern glacial home. One night, while his family is out of town, two unfathomably sexy young women knock knock at his door claiming to need help finding a party. One thing leads to another and before long we are treated to a sleazy threesome. In true Bunuel style, the girls don’t seem willing, or know how to leave – all the more troubling when neighbour Colleen Camp stops by disapprovingly and when the girls destroy some artwork in the house. As matters progress, the sleaze and nonsense increase to silly levels.

Although that promising start eventually dissipates into a watered down tables turned version of Funny Games, with a lot less to say, it’s still stupidly watchable in the same way most exploitation movies are. The cast is a lot of fun, even if it is a little cringe-inducing seeing some of the things Reeves gets up to in the movie. There are many moments when the girls’ plan could have been foiled or come crumbling down, but silly contrived circumstance gets in the way. I’m not sure what precisely the film is trying to say, but it comes off as both hating men and women equally while still glamourizing the hollow and violent nature of both sides. It doesn’t come close to being a horror movie, and it’s not particularly funny to be considered a comedy – exploitation and a mish mash of genre tropes mean it’s more like a sleazy morality tale where the lesson seems to be ‘Don’t Talk To Strangers’. Still, for all its faults, its more enjoyable than a lot of the po-faced horror out there, and it’s brief enough that you’re not sacrificing much by giving it your time.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Knock Knock!

Zombieland

Ever since the trio of Shaun Of The Dead, Dawn Of The Dead Remake, and 28 Days Later, zombies have seen a resurgence in media that hasn’t really gone away since. We’ve had a number of big budget movies and shows, and an even larger number of low budget and indie titles. Zombieland falls into the former category, and even though I’m a self-confessed zombie and horror junkie I didn’t get around to watching it until 2017. So, how does it fare against the myriad other horror comedy crossovers?

It fairs quite well. Make no mistake – I’m no great fan of Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone, or Jesse Eisenberg but none of them managed to irritate me during the course of the movie, and everything which the cast and crew attempted, worked amicably. There are laughs, both visceral and script based, the gore isn’t overloaded so as to put of sensitive non-horror fans yet present enough and wrapped up in entertaining action to appease those who like a bit of red on them.

The story and structure is all quite tongue in cheek – both mocking and paying skewed reverence to the genre. There has been an outbreak which has led to zombies everywhere, and one geek loner is travelling through the US and surviving following his self-made rules. As any zombie fan will attest – we all have our own rules for surviving our own imagined apocalypse. Along the way he meets Woody Harrelson’s character – a piss-take composite of several prior Harrelson creations and the conniving sisters played by Stone and Breslin. Part Road movie, part Crime caper, part comedy horror, the disparate parts rarely feel like they are pulling in opposing directions and the highlights are of course the Bill Murray cameo sequence and the finale set in an Amusement Park. If you know me, you’ll know I love movies set around or involving Amusement or Theme Parks.

At the time of writing, I haven’t yet watched the sequel but based upon how much I enjoyed this one I imagine it won’t be long before I catch up to it. Let us know in the comments what you think of Zombieland!

Pandorum

Horror movies set in space inevitably draw comparisons to the Alien Franchise – what else is there to compare to? Jason X? Somewhere between that zenith and nadir lies everything else. It’s a sub-genre or setting which has seen some resurgence in the last decade, but one which nevertheless feels underused. I would assume the very nature of the setting would send budgets skyrocketing. Pandorum is somewhere closer to Event Horizon on the scale and like that 90’s cult hit it raises a lot of ideas and questions, yet tends to frustrate more often than it delights.

Pandorum is a film which ultimately frustrates more than it delights. While it seems to know what it wants to be, the clashing of genres and ideas along with a few unusual choices, prevent the film from being entirely coherent and enjoyable. Starting off with the casting, we have Dennis Quaid – an everyman actor who most wouldn’t consider to be an A-Lister, but someone who has plenty of hits under his belt and is respected. Playing alongside him is Ben Foster, who I consider to be the finest actor of his generation yet seems fated to never break through to the mainstream or critical recognition he deserves. The film largely follows this pair for the bulk of the film, with a couple of curious cameos to keep things from being too stilted. Both actors carry the film well, but based on their names alone it would be difficult to pull in a huge audience.

Looking next at the story – you’d be forgiven for thinking this is an all out space horror movie, with scares, monsters, action – but it’s both more claustrophobic and appeals to the internal rather than the visceral. There is action, but it’s spread unevenly between bouts of dialogue, philosophy, and procedure – there is horror, but it’s closely knit to those moments of action. It’s part survival, part mystery, and I wasn’t convinced that the two mesh successfully. I’m fully prepared to stand in the minority on this and I know there will be plenty of dedicated fans after watching – for me, I wanted a little more tension in both the survival and action aspects. The script has a lot to say, but traps its more interesting aspects under what is ultimately an unsatisfying story more dependent on its central twist. Again, it’s difficult to see what sort of audience the film was meant to draw.

Where the film does mostly succeed is in its interior designs – the craft itself is slimy and dark, labyrinthine, and filled with endless corridors and connecting pits and crawlspaces. Director Christian Alvart does his best work in the scenes of our survivors traversing the giant ship in various fetch quests, allowing the sense of mammoth scale to collide with the ironic claustrophobia of being alone. Effects wise – it’s not a huge budget film, but both CG, practical, and make-up are good for what they could achieve.

While I don’t think the movie is ‘good’, I don’t believe it deserved the critical and commercial drubbing it received. It’s fine as a cult film and it’s strong enough that it has and should continue to find fans – at the very least it should have made back its budget, but whether or not it is deserving of the rumoured sequels or prequels I’ll leave up to you. It’s another interesting space-horror film which doesn’t hit the mark, but which is worth catching for Sci-Fi fans still hoping to fill that post-Alien, post-Pitch Black void.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Pandorum!

Street Hawk

*Originally written in 2004

Another classic Eighties TV show in the vein of Knightrider and Airwolf, Street Hawk follows the exploits of Jesse Mach – a cop who also solves crime undercover using a souped-up black motorcycle. Although only 13 episodes were made, it remains one of the best shows of its type, with plenty of action and humour. And like those other shows it also has a great soundtrack, this time by Tangerine Dream.

The pilot tells the story of Mach, a cop with a love of motorbikes who is often getting in trouble for his reckless ways. When his partner is killed by the drivers of a mysterious black van reported as part of a crime spree throughout his city, Mach seeks vengeance. However, he has been suspended from the force, and warned against revenge. When he is contacted by a rather nerdy man with a new prototype motorcycle, Mach reluctantly accepts to meet. When he sees the bike though, and hears its specs, he wants to ride it immediately. They go for a trial, and Mach loves it, though Norman the creator is edgy, geeky and doesn’t want to see the bike mistreated and ruined. The unlikely pair and the bike set out to prevent crime, while Mach looks for that Black Van.

After the pilot, the series follows the usual formula of helping those in need, while Mach tries to hide his double-life. The banter between Norm and Jesse is charming, akin to KITT and Michael, String and Dom, BA and Murdoch etc. The performances are good from the central cast, as well as from the standard weekly guests. The action is high with plenty of chases, the bike is very cool, and it is a pity the series never continued, ending on a semi-cliffhanger – unfortunate when there was, and is so much rubbish about. While some may say it is cheesy, it has its charm and remains a cult show which should be visited by all fans of eighties TV.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Street Hawk!

Nightman Listens To – Room Service – Roxette!

*Note – written July 2019

Greetings, Glancers! It’s Roxette time again, and another album that I’m 100% unfamiliar with. Last time around, I didn’t think much of Have A Nice Day beyond a couple of okayish tracks. The general next step in a band’s late career after an average album is another average album. Some acts call it a day, others go on a hiatus before a, more often than not, well-received return to form some years down the line. This came a couple of years after the previous album so I can only assume it’s going to be the same sort of thing. I’m clutching at straws here to fill out the intro. Let’s do this.

Real Sugar: A synth opening. Per sounds as youthful as ever as he begins to sing. Melody is alright, the drums are terrible, but the chorus is better – a little edge, and as you know I prefer Marie’s vocals. The chorus actually makes the verse marginally better, giving a shadow/light dynamic to some extent. The bridge seems tacked on – as if it could have been written for any song, it doesn’t feel like part of this song necessarily. Marie’s vocals actually feel a little off here. Still, it’s a poppy opener which long-standing fans should like.

The Centre Of The Heart: We open with a swell of more of that Euro-dance sound which popped up often on the previous album. It has its place, though I can’t take a lot of it in a single sitting. The chorus is catchy, I get that, but it gets on my tits by the second time around. I much prefer the verse – it’s simple and understated, though I don’t think we need the effects on the vocals. The ‘na na na na’ stuff post-chorus is also less annoying than the actual chorus. I’m all for the strings, but the drums are feeble – not enough depth or boom to make you want to dance. They want to stay in the pop realm without doubling down with the bass. I understand if people like this, but it’s average as far as their singles go.

Milk And Toast And Honey: Three things I like. A lullaby style introduction, or like the sound from opening one of those creepy jewelry boxes which has a ballet figurine twirling around inside. Lyrics aren’t the best, the rhymes seem forced. The melody is sweet, I like the extra line without the music accompaniment before the chorus. Was that a chorus? It was over before I actually typed the sentence. Yes, second time round it is a chrous. I’ve always felt Roxette is at their best when doing ballads – power or otherwise. This is a straight, innocent ballad though it doesn’t tug in the right places this time around. Matron.

Jefferson: A straight soft pop rock song of the type we expect by the band. I’ve no idea who Jefferson is, but I can see people singing along with the chorus. This is probably the most catchy (without being annoying) song so far, though I don’t think we could do with the piano following the melody in the bridge. Very simple, but not bad.

Little Girl: Squeaky synth stuff and piano and more weak drums. It’s another ballad so I automatically sort of enjoy the melody. The chorus isn’t great, Marie’s pushed vocal makes it better for a moment. The second verse and pre-chorus are a little jumbled and ruin the momentum. The rest of the song is a non-eventful bridge and more repeats of the chorus.

Looking For Jane: Another nice enough song – melodies are nice, vocals nice, music nice. It’s just very safe and doesn’t hit the heights of their best stuff. Again, fans will gobble it down. It’s not bad, just lacking the impetus and spark.

Bringing Me Down To My Knees: Another ballad. More Marie, so that’s a positive. Maybe if I’d heard all these, maybe if they had been made fifteen years earlier and been part of my childhood I would enjoy them more. There’s nothing wrong here, ignoring the fact that it’s all safe and simple. It’s a case of me being nowhere near the target audience for this sort of stuff and assuming that the fans will still enjoy it. I don’t see why they wouldn’t, but the band was once capable of more.

Make My Head Go Pop: Another up-tempo Euro-pop thing with Per vocals. As with the others it doesn’t have a big enough chorus, or edge, or thumping bass to appeal to the crowd who listens to this type of music – it’s Roxette’s lighter take on that type of music without really adding anything good to it. The little lullaby in the middle is a nice twist I guess, but it doesn’t lead to anything.

Try: Well, that is very Gina G of you. Back with Marie now. It’s slow. It promises to go somewhere but instead is content to remain in this dreamy aimless space.

Fool: Haven’t we heard this one already? No, it has trumpet or something, so that’s new. They’re all blending together now – no melody poking its head out of the ground, no moment grabbing my attention. That trumpet is very annoying.

It Takes You No Time To Get Here: A Per ballad now. This is sweet. His vocals get a little weird in the chorus. This feels like a Country song, thankfully without any Country shite. If I heard this on its own I’d maybe enjoy it a tad more, but these album listens are hard work and suck any of the goodness out of the good songs. A lot of the songs feel much longer than they are.

My World My Love My Life: Fade in. Crappy drums, good piano. I realise I’m repeating myself. I quite like this, at least the chorus melody has an air of sadness even though the lyrics seem positive. I’d add this to my playlist picks but it’s too similar to everything else that is there.

I know Roxette were never the most exciting band beyond a few hits in the 80s, but they did have a knack for making emotive pop. Now it all seems very boring. I do prefer this to the previous album – less focus on studio malarkey and more on making good songs. The songs still don’t end up being very good, but at least they don’t get on my nerves. It’s just pleasant background music for people who don’t really love music. It’s another album where I’ve already forgotten every song as I type this. There were some C grade hooks, none of it was bad – just meh. Forgettable. As memorable to me as any of the faces I pass each day – there for a second, gone for eternity, forgotten or barely registered. I actually liked a number of the songs but none of them reach A grade. They’re still nice enough that I wouldn’t take issue with hearing them again, but I imagine they wouldn’t last long on my playlist. Man, I need some metal after this.

Let me know, etc.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Jefferson. Milk And Toast And Honey. Looking For Jane. It Takes You No Time To Get Here.

The Perfection

Netflix’s The Perfection came with the usual unseemly onslaught of praise and hyperbole. ‘The most terrifying horror film since The Exorcist’ – they proclaimed. ‘It’s the greatest movie since that time you snuck downstairs and caught your parents watching Basic Instinct together – in the nudey’ – they shrieked. Settle down, dude. It’s perhaps a step up from the usual 400 films an hour Netflix has been putting out; a film about ladies, and cellos, and bus vomiting, and hand chopping, with more twists than a Shyamalan coda.

The Perfection follows Miss Noticeable Teeth 2019 – Allison Williams – a former child musical prodigy who gave up the rock star life of playing the cello, to focus on the decidedly more avant-garde life of caring for a terminally ill parent. She visits her old teachers to help them select the new her – the next big thing in the exciting world of cello fiddling – but she seems a little off. Jealous? Out for revenge? Something? Lizzie – the new prodigy seems a little vindictive two. Surprise – they’re attracted to each other and after a night of boozing get down to a little fiddling with each other. Sorry. The next day, the pair take a trip and all manner of bodily fluids hit the fan as Lizzie seems to be infected with some apocalyptic, Cronenbergian funk-fest. Is it a dream? Is Perfect Teeth up to no good? Something? Turns out, the twists and turns have only just begun – just as The Carpenters predicted.

Lets get the obvious out of the way – many of the twists are convoluted and silly, and as far as revenge plots go, I can think of at least four million easier ways to go about things – with just as much satisfaction. I guess the avenging party wanted things to be ‘perfect’. As twisty as matters do get, a lot of it is telegraphed and it does seem geared to conclude in an Audition like fashion. Luckily it’s all ridiculous enough that once you’re strapped in you’re more than likely to go along for the ride, and any misgivings you may have had are generally smoothed out by how handsomely shot the film is and how competent the cast and grew are. It’s obvious Richard Shepard has danced around the bush numerous times, and faces old and new such as Steven Webber and Logan Browning are all committed to disguising their characters’ true intentions. As a horror fan I’m pleased to say that the film does go to some visually, graphically, and mentally disturbing places – there’s nothing a seasoned horror fan won’t have seen many times, but maybe not in such a glossy way with such an artistic bent. Non seasoned fans likely will be slapped about like a fat footy fan’s belly at five pm. It is one of Netflix’s best movies and another notch on the ladder in Williams’ interesting career – but will she ever break out of the ‘untrustworthy scream queen’ trap she currently finds herself in? Something?

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Perfection!

Children Of The Corn

childrenofthecorn

I can’t be specific on dates, but Children Of The Corn was one of the first horror movies I remember discovering. Like I mentioned in my Creepshow 2 review, posters can have a powerful effect on a growing, inquisitive, impressionable mind. Over time I somehow gained information about the story and the movie and began to form my own version of it in my head, but I didn’t get to see it until years later. There’s a danger of being let down after consciously or subconsciously hyping a movie, but where Children Of The Corn is concerned, the mystery and tone conveyed in the opening portions of the movie aligned with the picture I’d created in my mind. Watching again years later, it’s clear that there are better King adaptations and it that it has plenty of shortcomings. I still feel that it captures the essence of the unknown which juvenile and growing horror fans find so alluring, even if it doesn’t have enough bite to hold an adult audience in its thrall.

Adapted from King’s 1978 Night Shift short, Children Of The Corn is the first of (somehow) ten movies in a series which I can only assume grows increasingly <corny> as it progresses. King wrote the original screenplay, but as was normal for the time another writer would come in to usurp the script and focus more on violence than drama. The original story is a simple one – a bickering couple are driving through the US heartland, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, only to become lost and encounter a savage backwater. The key difference here being that the savages are a bunch of kids, creepy religious zealot kids who follow an unseen God known as ‘He Who Walks Behind The Rows’. The movie keeps the basics in check, albeit offering less in the way of marital distress and more in the way of heroic dads and wholesome family dynamics.

We open in pleasingly creepy fashion, as Isaac – moon-faced pre-teen leader of the group sends the crazed Malachi and friends on a poison and murder spree through their hometown, Gatlin. It’s a simple farming town, and the crops have been failing, which Isaac takes to mean their God is not pleased. And we all know how to appease an angry, malevolent God. Cut to a few years later and a ‘just about to be famous for Terminator’ Linda Hamilton (Vicky) and boyfriend Peter Horton (But) heading up river to start a new life. Driving through endless miles of nothing, their subdued fears about the future are disturbed by the sudden appearance of a child bouncing under the wheels of their car. After initially thinking they hit and killed him, they come to understand that he was already dead. The boy was trying to escape Isaac and his murderous ways, but ended up being sacrificed to the God of Buick. Should they leave him and go on their way? Should they drop the body off in a local town? Should they take him to a big city hospital, or the Police Station in local Gatlin? This being a horror movie, the pair make the wrong choice and quickly find themselves in a world of pitchforks and pasty teens.

The film isn’t as shlocky as some early King adaptations, surprising perhaps given the subject matter. Likewise, it isn’t anywhere near the level of his biggest films of the period – Carrie or The Shining. To its credit, it isn’t all silly surface scares – that sense of the unknown and of being lost permeates the atmosphere in the opening scenes and its an atmosphere which works for me personally having been a child with a heightened fear of being lost or left behind in a new place. Outside of personal feelings, the film is an obvious parable for religious fundamentalism and the dangers of allowing any cult to take power. I like this angle, as ham-fisted as it may be delivered here, and I’m sure a more dedicated experienced director and writer combo could do something stronger with the material viewed in this way. There are of course numerous departures from the source material, fleshing out the cult and delivering a less downbeat ending for example. It’s well enough shot, using the open and wide landscape to decent effect, and by and large the cast serve their purpose – all the more impressive given that many of them are kids. Hamilton doesn’t get to show off her later chops, but is more than the withering lead lady of the piece you might expect from such a film, and gets just as much screen time and action as Horton. They work well as a couple and spend much of the film apart dealing with various factions within Gatlin, again equipping themselves admirably.

Is it top tier King? No, but that’s generally reserved for his more classy material or when a classy director gets a hold of his work. But it’s serviceable enough for most viewers to get something out of it, and good enough that many King and horror fans might rank it as a second tier adaptation. In any case, in this strange time of locked doors and empty streets we find ourselves in it’s worth a watch to remind ourselves what the outdoors look like – and that what’s out there may want us for lunch.

Let us know what you think of Children Of The Corn in the comments!

The Girl With All The Gifts

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The Girl With All The Gifts feels like the sort of film Sean Bean was meant to be in. The hardened, gruff military man whose heart will soften over the course of the film thanks to a precocious youth and a saucy minx. But he’s probably going to die in the end, maybe sacrificing himself along the way. At its heart though, it’s not about some burly man – it’s a film about a dying world, a mutating world, in which the surviving humans find themselves no longer relevant, much in the same way as I Am Legend suggests, except the focus in more uniquely on the relationship between a girl and her teacher.

As with most YA fiction and apocalyptic movies, there’s is a certain amount of world building and exposition to wade through before we get to the meat of the story and characters. We learn early on that a fungal based disease has wiped out most humans, with those infected being 28 Days Later type creatures. The central twist is that a group of kids who were born half infected are able to somewhat control their monstrous natures and retain portions of their humanity. Scientists have learned from these kids and are in the process of finding a cure and working on ways to further restrain the mutation from taking hold in the children. Gemma Arterton stars as the teacher, Glenn Close is the lead scientist, Paddy Considine is the Sean Bean, and Sennia Nanua is (insert title… maybe). There are varying degrees of distrust and desires between these leads and their factions but when an attack on their safe space makes them outcasts in a dangerous world, they need to find away to work together to survive.

The Girl With All The Gifts is that rare YA adaptation which almost entirely dispenses with notions of romance – there’s no tacked on boy meets girl here which is refreshing in a genre so devoted to pining teens and brooding hunks. While the world and the scenario isn’t exactly unique, there’s enough dedication to design to make this Britain feel believable, and enough quirks in the story and plot devices to keep it distinct. With the cast above you know it’s going to be a well acted affair, and I was surprised by how cold it is throughout – there are difficult decisions and moral dilemmas and characters seem troubled by these as well as the actions of others, while still seeking to meet their own needs or wishes. It’s pleasingly dry and bleak too when it comes down to the wire, and doesn’t allow for any surprise twist or heroic shock to save the day. It’s pretty clear from the opening minutes that humanity is fucked, but it takes until the closing minutes just to realize how much.

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Girl With All THe Gifts!

Nightman Listens To – 1966 – By Everyone!

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Greetings, Glancers! Yeah… you… you read that right. If you’re not really sure what the title means, then let me enlighten you; I’ve listened to all the Bryan Adams albums, I’ve almost finished the Bon Jovi albums, and it won’t be long before I’m through with Madonna, Roxette, Bowie. I’ve started with The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys, and those are going to take some time. I’ve also started to work my way through the albums by each member of The Beatles, and that’s going to take even longer. I’m still messing around with the Iron Maiden members non Iron Maiden work. I’m working my way slowly through the Best 1000 Albums Of All Time, and listening to chart singles from every year. My plate is full, in other words. Still, one idea which has been gnawing away at me for quite some time is to listen to every single album (or at least the official studio, non-live, non-compilation) released in a single year. It’s a ridiculous undertaking, considering any year from at least 1960 has at least one thousand album releases.

You see, often when my brain drifts off to fantasy lands of sleep and booze induced nonsense, I imagine being transported to another world or a parallel universe where the music of our 20th Century doesn’t exist. I then bring our music to that world either as a DJ of some sort, or by starting my own band and pretending to write the songs myself. Either way I become a beloved billionaire. It’s great – you should try it some time. In these flights of fancy, I try to imagine myself releasing the best songs in some sort of chronological way and replace the crap with the good – this means that, for example, The first Beatles album (as written and recorded and performed by me in this parallel world) would feature Del Shannon’s Runaway and BB King’s Stand By Me instead of some of the crap that actually appears – Boys, Chains, Anna etc. To cut a very long and depressing story short, I simply don’t know enough of the music released in the 20th Century to say what I would nick and claim as my own so I want to go listen to everything. Naturally, in these silly imaginings time wraps around itself meaning when I’m in the other land I don’t age even though weeks, months, and years pass, while as that time passes over there, in our world mere seconds have passed. You get it. It’s all balls.

That’s my reasoning. Or some part of it. Who knows – maybe as a music fan I just feel there are too many gaps in history that I want to fill in, and even with all of my other series those gaps are still too wide and varied. By listening to everything in a whole year I’ll be forcing myself to listen to artists I normally avoid and artists I’ve never heard of. Hopefully I find a lot of great stuff. Me being me, I’ll probably hate a lot of it.

Why 1966? Why not, really? Our current musical landscape, or at least up to around 2000, was defined by the emergence of The Beatles and the bands which followed in their wake. I feel like it took until around 1966 for the rest of the world to catch up. The Stones, The Beach Boys, Elvis, and many others had been making music at the same time and before, but in 1966 other artists were either forming or releasing their debuts or getting into their stride – The Doors, Them, The Who, The Kinks, The Animals, Dylan, Cream, Hendrix, Yardbirds, James Brown, The Supremes, Nancy Sinatra, Dusty Springfield, Otis Redding, Cher, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash, Marvin Gaye, Aretha, Donovan, Mamas & Papas, Tom Jones, Streisand, Bee Gees, Herb Alpert etc etc etc. It wasn’t exactly the beginning, but it seems like the beginning of the peak. If I somehow survive this challenge, I’ll move straight into 1967 and would aim to just keep going. Obviously there’s no way I’m getting through this, but I’m a fighter. And a lover. And maybe I do have access to a parallel world or a device which can stop time. You can’t prove I don’t.

I’m not going to bother publishing a list of all the albums I’ll be covering as that would take almost as much time as it would to listen to them. I’ll let you know what I’m doing when the day comes, but I’ll probably use Wikipedia and go through it in chronological order. I’m not going to listen to any albums I’ve already heard – which will be a lot, but in the grand scheme of things quite minuscule. I’m also going to pass over any albums which are already on one of my other lists – Stones, Beach Boys etc. If one artist repeatedly comes up who repeatedly offers nothing for me, then I’ll skip them. Otherwise, I’ll be listening to pop, rock, blues, gospel, folk, and gasp – even Country. Pray for my soul. Why not join me on this ride – pop on the records and see where they lead us?