MCM Comic Con Birmingham 2019 – Part 2

NEC Birmingham

16/17 November 2019

Right back atcha with some more fabulous photos from the recent MCM Comic Con at the NEC in Birmingahm.  Here’s Part 2, ‘cos one blog post just wasn’t enough.  So many photos, you see.

There’s not much else to report that I haven’t covered in previous editions of my MCM Comic Con blogs.  You know the drill, right?

So let’s just crack on and you can witness the awesome Cosplay photos of these amazing, talented people.

Here’s a bit of fun for you, though – can you spot my pal Darf Dork hanging around in one of these pics?  There might be a prize for someone who can…

Finally, another big THANK YOU to everyone who posed for a photo – the true stars of the day.  See you at the next Comic Con!

 

The Curse of Halloween Horror Fest 2019

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Hammer’s only venture into lycanthrope-based horror in the movies, The Curse of the Werewolf is a great example of the studio doing what they do best.  There’s no Pete or Chris, but we do get an early chance for Oliver Reed to demonstrate his talent.

Apparently the movie was based on a book called “The Werewolf of Paris”; the location shifted to Spain when a planned film about the Spanish Inquisition had to be abandoned – and the Spanish sets were forced onto this production.

Reed plays Leon, who the audience learns has had a troubled upbringing.  Born on Christmas Day and conceived from a rape, Leon is cursed to become a werewolf.  With love and comfort, his curse is kept under control.  He falls for his employers daughter, who is engaged to another man – and soon Leon’s hidden wolf is out of control.

The Curse of the Werewolf is something of a gem in Hammer’s crown.  The story has tension and drama courtesy of Director, Terence Fisher – and the special effects are adequate for the time.  Reed is engaging as Leon, inviting our sympathy though the audience realises he is doomed.

The result is a monster movie that’s both entertaining and moving, with a depth not often witnessed in a Hammer horror.

8/10

Misery (1990)

You can’t beat a bit of Stephen King, and Misery is one of his best – the book is great, the film is a masterful adaptation.

Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is a best selling novelist, who crashes his car on a snowy Colorado road.  He’s rescued and nursed by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who claims to be Paul’s number one fan.  But Wilkes discovers that Sheldon has killed off her beloved character, Misery, and his experience goes downhill faster than his car did.

Trapped in Annie’s house and confined to a wheelchair, how will Paul escape before Annie’s descent into murderous madness is complete?

Directed by Rob Reiner, Misery has tension and pace enough to keep anyone on the edge of their seat.  Caan is excellent; Bates is on Oscar winning form as the disturbed woman switching from kindly to evil in a heartbeat.

There’s nothing supernatural in Misery, but this story is certainly horrific.

9/10

The Incredible Halloween Horror Fest

Cujo (1983)

I’ve not read all of Stephen King’s books, but I’ve read a handful and enjoyed them all.  A great deal of his books translate into equally great movies.  Some, like Maximum Overdrive, do not (though I thought it was kinda fun, anyway).

In Cujo, a nice old dog gets bitten by a bat and becomes rabid.  He attacks a couple of people and traps bored suburban housewife Dee Wallace and her young son in their broken down car.  The pair are terrorised by Cujo whilst they wait for rescue, or some way to attempt an escape.

Admittedly, I’ve not read Cujo, so don’t have any background on the tale itself.  The film takes a fair old while to get moving, so much so that I was beginning to wish I’d watched the classic Zoltan – Hound of Dracula instead.  This movie was looking to become one of those unfortunate King stories that become mediocre movies.

Things start to rev up when Cujo starts maiming people, though it’s a long wait.  Yet when Wallace and her boy are trapped in their car, the tension mounts considerably.  Their fear and desperation are vivid, ensuring the slow burn is worth persevering with.

I’m sure the book would be a much more satisfying experience – King is so good at delving into the mind and motivations of his small town characters, that the detail always becomes riveting.  I didn’t find the movie as engrossing as others, but the final act of the film – with Wallace becoming more and more terrified – takes Cujo out of the “dud” category and into the “not bad at all”.

7/10

The Halloween Horror Fest Zone

The Dead Zone (1983)

More Stephen King for our latest helping of Halloween Horror Fest movie madness.  The Dead Zone, directed by David Cronenberg, is based on the King novel of the same name.

In this film, we meet Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken), a down to earth school teacher who falls into a five year coma following a horrendous car accident.  When he comes to in hospital, Johnny finds that he has gained psychic powers.

Johnny’s new-found abilities lead him to intervene in some potential disasters, and help the police in their search for a serial killer. 

But an encounter with dodgy politician Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen) leaves Johnny with a vision of Stillson becoming the US President and causing mass destruction.  Smith has no choice but to ensure that this never happens…

Walken is superb in the lead role, always believable despite the fantastic premise.  The audience can’t fail to empathise with the character- Johnny has lost everything following his accident – and Walken’s performance is spot on.  Johnny Smith isn’t a hero, he’s just a normal guy who has found himself thrust into bizarre circumstances.

Sheen is chilling as the unhinged senatorial candidate.  Brooke Adams, as Johnny’s lost love Sarah, is very moving and Tom Skerrit is note perfect as the beleaguered Sheriff.

Cronenberg gets the best out of his cast and manages to distil the novel into an authentic and highly entertaining thriller.  The Dead Zone is not the scariest Halloween movie, but it is immensely watchable.

King’s original novel is also highly recommended.  For a book nearly 40 years old, it’s unnervingly relevant in showing how a political outsider manages to gain mass appeal.  Almost like the writer had psychic powers…

8/10 

Halloween Horror Fest’s Lot

Salem’s Lot (1979)

Next up for Halloween Horror Fest 2018, an absolute horror classic!  Based on the book by horror master Stephen King, directed by the great Tobe Hooper, Salem’s Lot really is a fantastic piece of spine chilling story telling.

Originally a TV mini series, Salem’s Lot manages to cram in a great deal of the detail from King’s exceptional novel.  Although it’s been released as an edited version, it was the full 3 hour plus version that I indulged in. 

Ben Mears (David Soul), a slightly successful writer, returns to his home town of Salem’s Lot.  There he intends to write his next work, inspired by the local haunted house.  That particular building has recently been bought by newcomers to Salem’s Lot, antique dealing duo Mr Barlow and Mr Straker (James Mason).

Before long, the town is plagued by disappearances and then deaths, as the populace become victims of a tide of – vampirism!   Can Ben and his cohorts destroy the menace before it’s too late?

Salem’s Lot is a definite favourite of mine.  I first saw a short segment when I was a kid, only to have my mum switch the TV off in shock when confronted by a particularly startling moment!  I don’t think I slept for several nights afterwards. Years later I managed to make it all the way through, though Salem’s Lot still has an almost uncanny power to chill.

Seeing the entire movie, I was also inspired to read King’s novel – it became the first volume of his that I’d read.  It’s still my favourite.

Both James Mason and David Soul are excellent in their roles.  Mason you know will be top class; watching Soul the viewer realise how good an actor he really is.  Both are ably supported by a talented cast who create some of the huge tapestry of small town life that’s integral to both book and film.

Tobe Hooper weaves all this together with incredible skill, resulting in a film which although made for TV, still has plenty of chills.  Hooper can’t rely on gore or any shocks that would have been allowed in the cinema.  He’s forced to use other tricks to create an air of suspense – or outright horror – and Salem’s Lot is all the better for it.

All these years later, Salem’s Lot is still spectacularly entertaining – and very, very frightening.  I still don’t sleep with the curtains open.  Do you?

10/10

The Nightmare Before Halloween Horror Fest

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

This year, we’ve tried to include our 7 year old daughter in Halloween Horror Fest as much as we can.  Obviously, we’re not going to show her The Exorcist, but The Nightmare Before Christmas was a perfect choice.

It’s a fantastic animated movie, full of creepy and imaginative characters, from the mind of that good old Halloween advocate, Tim Burton. 

Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, where he presides over the preparations for celebrating the spooky holiday.  Although this year, he’s bored of Halloween – and a chance trip to Christmas Town gives him a spark of inspiration.  Enthused by the joy of Christmas, Jack decides to take over that holiday, and deliver Christmas cheer to the world.

It doesn’t take much to guess that this will all go a teeny bit wrong…

We all loved The Nightmare Before Christmas, with it’s enjoyable mix of classic stop motion animation and quirky songs.  The film is amazing to watch, the detail is spellbinding and the story easy to follow for everyone.  In particular, I was very impressed with the diversity of background characters – nerd heaven.

Excellent family entertainment, especially if your family is Halloween crazy like ours!

9/10

Dreamcatcher (2003)

A group of four friends are off to spend their annual weekend away in a cabin in the woods.  This year, however, events take a horrific turn.  At first caught in a blizzard, they find that there is a disease outbreak of some kind, with the military involved and everyone being evacuated.

Except we learn that the outbreak is actually caused by extra terrestrials, with a diabolical plan to take over the world.  Can these evil aliens be stopped before it’s too late? 

This is really well made film, with good performances and a meandering plot that keeps the viewer guessing.  However in the end, I found it a bit too much of a Frankenstein patchwork of an idea.

Based on a Stephen King book, I can’t judge how accurate a version this is as I’ve not read the source material.  But the movie comes across as a somewhat garbled mix of King’s own It, plus The Thing, Alien, X-files and a ton of other stuff.  Factor in the most gross-out, toilet based gore I’ve ever seen and we’re left with a strange film that never adds up to the sum of it’s parts.

Too many ideas (and influences) bolted together to be truly satisfying, Dreamcatcher is entertaining but not essential.

7/10

Halloween Horror Fest 2017

Here we go with another month of as many horror films as I can fit in, on the run up to Halloween.  Both myself and Mrs Platinum Al take turns top pick a spooky movie to entertain us; I then write these here mini movie reviews.

Sound OK to you?  Let’s crack on, then.

It (1990)

Recently Mrs Platinum Al and I went to see the new version of It in the cinema.  I was familiar with the story but wasn’t really expecting anything really exciting.  How wrong I was: the remake of It is superb fun from start to finish.

So it’s a bit of a no-brainer that the first film of this years Halloween Horror Fest would be the original 1990 version.  But how would it stack up compared to the revised film?

It is based on a Stephen king novel, in which a nondescript North American town is plagued by a series of child murders.  A gang of misfit kids, labelling themselves the Loser’s Club, find themselves terrorised by the evil entity that is responsible.  Preying on their deepest fears, It threatens to kill them all, until the Losers can unite and defeat the creature. 

Years later, the grown up gang are brought back together when it becomes obvious that It has returned.  This time they must destroy it once and for all…

The old film (actually a TV mini series, if you want to be picky) stands up surprisingly well against the new.  The new film is superb, and resplendent with the latest in special effects technology.  However the more primitive effects don’t harm the original at all, it still works thanks to great performances from all.  The 1990 movie succeeds because, like the later film, it brings the characters to the fore.  The Losers Club – whether kids or adults – are all interesting people that the audience can root for.

Of course the star of the show is the phenomenal Tim Curry, as Pennywise the clown.  Creepy and sinister one minute, Curry transforms into unhinged malevolence with startling ease.  Pennywise is evil incarnate and brilliantly portrayed here.

But who is the best?  Tim Curry or the new film’s Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgard?  I’ll leave that for you to decide…

8/10

Halloween Horror Fest

Yes, it’s October – which means it’s time once again for Halloween Horror Fest!  Throughout the month on the run up to Halloween, Mrs Platinum Al and I watch some of the horror movies from our creepy collection, and I write a brief review of each for your evil entertainment.

It’s always out and out horror – so long as there’s a general spooky or paranormal element – or monsters! – then the movie is up for consideration.

This is the fifth year running we have attempted this mammoth task.  To keep everyone up to speed, here’s a list of the films that have been viewed over the last few years.

All are listed in alphabetical order.

28 Days Later
28 Weeks Later
30 Days of Night
The Addams Family
Alien
An American Werewolf in London
Big Tits Zombie
Bigfoot Wars
Blacula
Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb
Blood on Satan’s Claw
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter
Carrie
Carry on Screaming
Company of Wolves
The Corpse Bride
Countess Dracula
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Dark Shadows
Day of the Dead
Dead Snow
Dead Snow 2
The Devil Rides Out
Dracula AD 1972
Dracula Prince of Darkness
Ed Wood
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Evil Dead
The Fog
Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman
Friday the 13th
From Dusk Till Dawn
From Hell
Ghost Ship
Ghostbusters
Halloween
The House That Dripped Blood
Lost Boys
Night Watch
Oupost
Para Norman
Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Xperience
Pet Sematary
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
The Raven
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Scream
Shadow of the Vampire
Shaun of the Dead
Silence of the Lambs
Sleepy Hollow
Taste the Blood of Dracula
Theatre of Blood
The Thing (1982)
Vampire Circus
The Vampire Lovers
The Wicker Man
The Wolfman (2010)
The Woman in Black
Zombie Strippers

The Blood on Halloween Horror Fest

Carrie (1976)

Poor Carrie White.  In high school she’s the butt of everyone’s jokes, the outcast, the loser.  At home, this shy and retiring girl is bullied by her religious mother.  And yet Carrie has extraordinary abilities.  Uncanny powers of the mind that will be unleashed, with all the pent up fury she can muster, when a trip to the end of year school prom leaves her the victim of another prank… carrie

Carrie is a total classic.  I watched it again for the umpteenth time and was still heart broken by Sissy Spacek’s performance as the title character.  The film manages to portray the real life awkwardness and isolation of teenage life, as well as the horror that is she creates.  Add a dose of seventies nostalgia and you’ve got one hell of a movie.

Brian de Palma condenses the narrative into an easy to follow, yet still coherent whole.  It’s shot superbly, with the school prom devastation effectively recreated on screen.  And if you like the movie, make sure you read the original Stephen King novel on which it was based!

9/10

The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)

This early seventies British movie – from Tigon, not Hammer – is a strange creation, but disturbing never the less.  Set in a rural 17th century locale, it’s somewhere between Witchfinder General and The Wicker Man, with a folk/Gothic feel. bloodosc

The plot is hard to describe, but generally encompasses the discovery in a ploughed field of a strange claw, ripe with evil.  Events lead on to a group of devil worshipping teenagers, causing murder and havoc in the countryside.  The film is disjointed and hard to follow at first, but is able to create some real feelings of dread.

The general feeling of unease builds, with a bizarre yet chilling atmosphere developing.  However there are some scenes that are quite harrowing to watch, so be warned.

Regarded as a master piece of British horror, The Blood on Satan’s Claw is worth watching if you’re a fan of this type of film (see the examples mentioned above).  Despite my misgivings about some of the nastier scenes, it’s certainly effective in creating a sense of evil in an innocent, remote place.

7/10

The Return of Hallowe’en Horror Fest

Another October, another Hallowe’en Horror Fest!  As per last year, the Virtual Hot Tub will become a horror themed heaven – or hell – right on through to Hallowe’en.

Here’s this years first horror film mini review…

Pet Sematary (1989)

A family move to a new house, by a busy road, which is also near to the Pet Sematary of the title.  It is here that the local kids bury their beloved, sadly departed pets.  Cursed ground nearby, however, can revive the dead; though the dead come back not as they once were…  Inevitably the busy road takes it’s toll, and the struggle with grief leads to unnatural choices. Pet_sematary_poster

I had seen this adaptation of the Stephen King novel many years ago.  First time around I wasn’t massively impressed, but the film did entertain.  Watching Pet Sematary again after two decades, I was far more enthralled.  I now found some of the tale quite uncomfortable, as a parent.  Though that’s where King excels, taking our everyday fears and exploiting them, creating something quite unnerving.  This movie version manages to retain that dread and convey it well to the audience.

Pet Sematary is slightly dated, and the course of events slightly obvious, but there’s enough chilling imagery to make this film worth watching.

Plus this film picks up bonus points for two things:

  1. It features the late, great Fred Gwynne in a non-Herman Munster role
  2. It also features two Ramones songs (“Sheena is a Punk Rocker” and the title track) in a rare, early example of that fine band invading popular culture.  King is, of course, a big fan.

8/10