My Observations: Wonder Woman 1984 is coming to BOTH movie theaters and HBO Max streaming service on Christmas Day

The news has spread like wildfire in such a short time and unsurprisingly hashtags like #WonderWoman and #WW84 got really active again on social media. It has officially been announced that the much-delayed Wonder Woman 1984 (starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig) will indeed open in movie theaters in America on Christmas Day PLUS debut also via Warner Bros. own streaming service HBO Max.

Watch the confirming video below…

Already cinema chain AMC is supportive of the movie’s scheduled theatrical release.

“We hope movie lovers enjoy ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ during the holidays this year at AMC,” AMC Entertainment CEO and President Adam Aron stated.

Personally, I am surprised that Warner Bros. decided to do the simultaneous theater-and-streaming approach because the move is pretty risky in terms of doing business as well as reaching out to the many millions of fans willing to pay to watch the movie. It is a fact that a lot of movie theaters in America remain closed and families are forced to stay at home especially in states where the state governments strictly implemented lockdowns due to the COVID-19 crisis.

It is also a fact that HBO Max is not exactly massively large with its subscribers. According to a Variety report, HBO Max users grew to 8.6 million at the end of the 3rd quarter of 2020. Also reported was 28.7 million customers described to be eligible to avail of the mentioned streaming service. Combined subscribers of standalone HBO and HBO Max in the United States reached 38 million as of the end of September. When it comes to the global scale, 57 million subscribers of both HBO and the streaming service were reported. The numbers look big but there is no guarantee that 100% of standalone HBO subscribers will actually avail of HBO Max for WW84. There is also the issue of generating a lot of funds to help Warner Bros. recover their investment in making and marketing Wonder Woman 1984.

As I stated before, the best way to watch Wonder Woman 1984 is still in the movie theater for it is a fact that it is such a very big production as a whole and it has certain sequences filmed with IMAX cameras (the highest quality visuals of which will not be captured perfectly via streaming). While it is a fact that way below 100% of movie theaters worldwide are open for business, it is now high time for Wonder Woman fans, superhero movie enthusiasts and geeks to contact their local cinema operators and find out once and for all if they will screen Wonder Woman 1984. Don’t just sit down waiting for something to come to you, take action by reaching out to the movie theaters online or by the phone if you really want to watch the movie!

If there is an AMC theater near you operating (or planning to open for the Christmas holiday), you are fortunate because WW84 will be screened. If there is an IMAX cinema near you that will really play the movie, go for the movie there for the best visual experience!

While I noticed online that there are a lot of self-described Wonder Woman fans who arrogantly disregard movie theater operators only because they selfishly want WW84 to be streamed directly to them, I myself will not avail of the movie via streaming because there is a better option for home viewing that has yet to be announced…Wonder Woman 1984 on Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray. Personally, I don’t have anything against VOD streaming services but when it comes to enjoying movies at home with the HDTV, I prefer Blu-ray over streaming anytime! Blu-ray has undeniable advantages over streaming!

What I intend to do on watching Wonder Woman 1984 is quite simple: movie theater first followed by Blu-ray months later. Really, I’m not rushing to avail HBO Max this Christmas.

Going back to movie theaters, Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins announced via social media a program is in development to allow moviegoers, fans and other people to be able to rent their own theaters out to screen the movie with group safety in mind.

“We will try to help to bring it to as many of you as we can and thank you all for your support,” Jenkins stated via Twitter.

For its part, AMC Entertainment made moves to not only screen Wonder Woman 1984 but also ensure safety and reducing health risks. Check out the full statement of AMC CEO and President Aron below:

Movie fans across the United States, Europe and the Middle East will be excited to learn that the release of Wonder Woman 1984 this holiday season is right around the corner, and that AMC will show this eagerly awaited movie on our big screens all across our global network.

For many months, AMC has been in active and deep dialogue with Warner Brothers to figure out how best this cinematic blockbuster could be seen at AMC Theatres in these unprecedented times. Given that atypical circumstances call for atypical economic relationships between studios and theatres, and atypical windows and releasing strategies, AMC is fully onboard for Warner Brothers’ announcement today.

AMC continues to believe that exclusive theatrical releases benefit consumers, filmmakers, studios and exhibitors. Even so, we also have clearly demonstrated this year that we are flexible and remain open to evolving long-standing business models, provided that we do so in ways that improve the industry ecosystem for all players. We have instituted novel approaches with other movie studios this year. We are doing so again, this time with Warner Brothers to facilitate the specific release of this important movie.  We hope movie lovers enjoy Wonder Woman 1984 during the holidays this year at AMC.

In showcasing Wonder Woman 1984, we especially note AMC’s commitment to the safety and health of our moviegoing guests and associates at our theatres. Our comprehensive and extensive AMC Safe & Clean protocols were unveiled this summer, having been designed in consultation with current and former faculty of Harvard University’s prestigious School of Public Health and in partnership with Clorox. Our commitment to AMC Safe & Clean already has allowed us to responsibly and safely welcome literally millions of moviegoers to enjoy seeing movies at AMC Theatres.

To put things in perspective, AMC has around one thousand movie theaters and over 10,000 screens worldwide. That being said, their support to screen Wonder Woman 1984 is crucial not only for Warner Bros. and the fans but for the movie industry as a whole. Also I am confident that other cinema operators (who are already struggling financially and have been trying to retain their employees) are observing and may decide soon to follow AMC’s move. The more movie screens for Wonder Woman 1984, the better!

In ending this piece, here are some Wonder Woman-related videos for your enjoyment. Also check out my retro reviews of the George Perez-drawn Wonder Woman comic books such as issue #1 and issue #9 (required reading as it includes Cheetah). Check out also my review of the 2017 movie as well as my feature of the No Man’s Land scene.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Sean Connery (1930-2020)

By the time you are reading, it has been a few days since the world lost pop culture icon Sean Connery. Best known for portraying Ian Fleming’s James Bond, Connery died in his sleep in the Bahamas on October 31 (Saturday). He was 90-years-old.

Already many entertainers gave their official reactions to the loss of Connery including current James Bond Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Hugh Jackman, Sam Neill, and Arnold Schwarzenegger to name some.

Like anyone else, the first thing I ever heard about Sean Connery when I was very young was that he was the original cinematic James Bond under the watch of Albert R. Broccoli as producer (note: Broccoli’s company continues to produce movies of Agent 007 until now). Being born long after Connery’s six Bond movies were released, the first time I saw him play Agent 007 was in 1983’s Never Say Never Again which was a big budget remake of 1965’s Brocolli-produced Thunderball. On its own, Never Say Never Again was NOT produced by Brocolli but by Jack Schwartzman and Kevin McClory (who was the legal rival of Ian Fleming).

While iconic Agent 007 made him famous, Connery himself got fed up with the role and he ended up having conflicts with Albert Brocolli. Connery wanted to prove he could do more than just play the British Secret Service agent repeatedly.

“I have always hated that damned James Bond,” Connery said. “I’d like to kill him.”

A few years after playing Agent 007 one last time on the big screen in Never Say Never Again, Connery struck gold with his performance in The Untouchables. His portrayal of cop Jim Malone earned him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

A few years after that achievement of his, I saw Connery in what I personally consider to be his finest non-James Bond role in the form of Henry Jones, Sr. in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade opposite Harrison Ford. There was great father-and-son chemistry between Connery and Ford in that movie very finely directed by Steven Spielberg.

Connery quit the movies in 2003 with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as his final film. During production, it was reported that he conflicted a lot with director Stephen Norrington. The bad experience contributed to ending his movie career.

In ending this article, here are some YouTube videos related to the film works of the late Connery for your enjoyment. By the way, check out my retro review of Dr. No.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenoris still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

My Observations: Watching Wonder Woman 1984 on VOD streaming will NEVER match the theatrical experience

By now you should be aware that Warner Bros. postponed yet again the release of the much-awaited Wonder Woman 1984 and selected December 25, 2020 (Christmas Day) as the new opening day. This is because of the ongoing pandemic which depressed economies around the world and dragged down the movie theaters. Of course, as I personally observed on social networks, a lot of fans are upset with the daily and there are some of them who expressed that a theatrical release of Wonder Woman 1984 is no longer needed and it should instead be released via video-on-demand streaming services. And then there were a few who did not hide their Leftist, socialist beliefs and even condemned Warner Bros. for corporate greed only because it still insists on showing Wonder Woman 1984 in the cinemas first.

Wow! It’s as if doing business is an evil thing and being a socialist and a hater of business are good things. Talk about being delusional and impulsive as a result of being brainwashed with socialism and anti-capitalism views. The truth of the matter is that socialism sucks and will continue to suck. To understand the business side of things before talking more about Wonder Woman 1984, let’s examine the state of movie theaters.

As of this writing, the movie theater operators are slowly reopening their locations and already they have spent time and money on implementing a variety of measures such as sanitation, constant cleaning, practicing social distancing, requiring moviegoers to wear facemasks and the like. At the same time, seating capacity per screen has been reduced to minimize the risk of viral infection. The reopening of cinemas not only means the resumption of their business but also the retention of the employees they still have.

Even with less than 100% of movie theaters in operation, Warner Bros. took the big risk of releasing their $200 million production Tenet which went on to gross more than $20 million in its first four days in the United States and Canada. Elsewhere, the movie raked in more than $100,000,000 in ticket sales and it has surpassed the $150,000,000 mark globally. The more movie theaters open – including the drive-in locations –  the better it will be for Wonder Woman 1984 and this obviously requires time.

To have the theatrical opening of Wonder Woman 1984 moved all the way to Christmas Day is, in my honest opinion, a sensible move. Like other forms of businesses negatively affected by the pandemic, movie theaters are struggling to reshape themselves (and retain their employees somehow in order to avoid adding them to the unemployed) and get back to business. Movie studios on the other hand are struggling with what to do with their finished productions, especially the ones that cost $200,000,000+ to make (complete with the hard work of the technical crew, the creative team and the talents who worked).

Like anyone else, I love Wonder Woman (she is my favorite of all superheroes) and I also love 2017 Wonder Woman movie which I still replay on Blu-ray. Unlike other fans who lost patience, I myself am willing to wait for the new Wonder Woman movie to open in the local cinemas, especially in the IMAX cinema. I certainly do not agree with the idea that Warner Bros. should just skip all the movie theaters in favor of releasing Wonder Woman 1984 on VOD streaming services, and I have reasons.

Warner Bros. is right to delay Wonder Woman 1984 and keep it scheduled to open in movie theaters first!

Firstly, Wonder Woman 1984 was made with the movie theater viewing experience first and foremost. The creative team led by director Patty Jenkins even used IMAX cameras for some scenes. While the filming of scenes for IMAX is limited in total, it is clear that Wonder Woman 1984 will look and play its very best on the gigantic screen in the IMAX theater! It is also likely that the most spectacular (or the most important) scenes filmed with IMAX captured Gal Gadot as the cinematic Wonder Woman. That being said, the visual splendor and the magnificence of big screen viewing will NEVER be matched on VOD streaming nor on the HDTV at home. I should add that the enhanced visuals that come with scenes being filmed with IMAX cameras can only be seen on the large IMAX screen, and this cannot be achieved on HDTV or on the best smartphones via streaming.

Secondly, releasing Wonder Woman 1984 directly to VOD streaming services is harmful not just to the struggling theater operators and their employees but also the economy itself. I do understand that going outside the home during the pandemic has its risks but the fact remains is that businesses around you have suffered a lot and there is a need for commerce and industry to be revived, and you can help the local and the national economy move forward again. Be mindful that many people who lost their jobs and their income are also suffering, and there is a need for businesses to be supported so that new job opportunities can be made…jobs that the unemployed badly need! Let’s face it, you can enjoy watching movies on the VOD streaming service you subscribed to and binge watch at the comfort of your home all you want but still the best place to watch is in the cinema. I can never forget the very day in 2017 I went to the local IMAX cinema to watch Wonder Woman by buying a premium movie ticket, buying popcorn and a drink, sat comfortably and watched the movie in its full greatness. I paid a lot and got tremendous value in return for the premium cinematic experience with Wonder Woman. Right now, movie theaters are struggling to recover and they badly need you to buy their tickets, snacks and drinks and enjoy the movie. It is also clear that both Warner Bros. and the movie theaters need each other, and Wonder Woman 1984 is too expensive a production to be released only on VOD streaming services.

Thirdly, still on the business side, video-on-demand streaming services are not exactly effective in helping movie producers recover the massive amounts of money spent on producing and marketing their major projects. Wonder Woman 1984 is a more expensive production than its predecessor and it is still the movie theater business model that will help it recover all the negative cost and break even (if not profit). The following are my questions to the loudmouths who ranted that Wonder Woman 1984 should be released directly to VOD streaming services only because of their impatience and other reasons: Do you seriously believe that video-on-demand will help Wonder Woman 1984’s producers and investors recover their money? If you are willing to pay a premium rate for digitally availaing Wonder Woman 1984 at all, how much are you really willing to pay? Do you seriously believe that movie theater operators and their employees should suffer only because you are so self-centered with wanting the new Wonder Woman film only on video-on-demand streaming?

Finally, this one is aimed at those who got indoctrinated with socialism and Leftist beliefs …who do you think you are to condemn Warner Bros. for corporate greed only because the studio is focused on releasing Wonder Woman 1984 first in cinemas? We are Wonder Woman fans here, right? It is the movie studio, its investors and other capitalists who pooled the financial resources together to hire Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Hans Zimmer and a whole lot of other people to make Wonder Woman 1984! They did that, not your socialist partners nor your socialist idols! The least we fans can do is be thankful to the filmmakers and their capitalism partners for making the movie. As for Warner Bros., we should keep in mind that the pandemic has made it very hard for them to decide when to release the movie we have been waiting for, and for sure their top executives and strategists have struggled in ways that you cannot imagine. You seriously believe that Warner Bros. and the other movie studios did not lose any money from the months-long shutdown of the cinemas during the pandemic? What is your basis for condemning Warner Bros. for corporate greed over Wonder Woman 1984?

Oh, one more thing, do you still go to a coffee shop, availed of their coffee and WiFi and used your branded smartphone to condemn capitalism and promote socialism? Capitalists made the things that you socialists enjoyed, not to mention all the other Wonder Woman-related products like comic books, toys, action figures, clothes, souvenirs, accessories and much more!

That being said, what we Wonder Woman fans can all do right now is wait for Wonder Woman 1984 to open in cinemas this Christmas Day. I believe that the delayed movie itself will turn out great and prove to be worth the long wait…and then prove that the movie theater is still the best place to watch it.

Who knows? Wonder Woman 1984 could spark a strong revival of the movie theater business around the world and we fans can be part of that!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Night of the Creeps

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching the movie and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

When you craft a story meant to entertain people, it is already tough to mix genre elements and make them work together while still telling a cohesive story. Imagine how hard that could be when making a movie with the mentioned creative mix?

Back in the mid-1980s, a young film enthusiast named Fred Dekker not only pulled it off but actually made a feature-length film titled Night of the Creeps which was his cinematic directorial debut. Before making that science fiction/horror/comedy movie, Dekker grew up watching movies of horror, science fiction and fantasy and developed a passion for movies (and movie production eventually).

After much learning through UCLA, Dekker broke into Hollywood and started a professional career in film and eventually got his dream project in the form of Night of the Creeps.

“Night of the Creeps is very much a first feature with the attitude of many first features. The I-may-not-get-to-do-another-movie-so-I’m-going-to-do-everything-I-want-to-do-in-this-movie attitude. It’s an attitude that often backfires, but in this case, it’s exactly what makes Night of the Creeps so much fun,” Dekker stated.

With the short film history lesson done, it’s now time to take a look back at Night of the Creeps written and directed by Fred Dekker, and released in 1986 by TriStar Pictures.

Screenshot_20200620-215521_YouTube.jpg
If you were the police chief, how many police officers would send to corner one zombie?

Early story

The story begins inside a space ship where one alien creature (carrying a canister) is running away from two armed personnel. With the two chasers delayed, the creature manages to shoot the canister into the realm of space.

On Earth, the year is 1959. In a typical American suburb, a college student visits a sorority house to pick up his date. Together, along with a few other pairs in cars, they spend time at a parking spot with a nice night view. A young police officer, who is aware of the news about a potential killer on the loose, approaches the pair and recognizes the lady from the sorority house. He tells them to go home for their safety, and then leaves them.

Shortly after, the canister from space arrives and crashes nearby causing the college student to drive the car (with his date with him) and find the spot of the crash. He parks the car by the woods and moves into woods leaving the sorority girl alone, sitting and waiting. He finds the canister and decides to look at it closely. Through an opening, an alien slug suddenly jumps from the canister and into his mouth. Meanwhile, the lone lady in the car hears the news about the loose killer and realizes the details about their location (being the destination of the killer). Slowly creeping up on her is a man with an axe.

Screenshot_20200620-213549_YouTube.jpg
What teenagers in America used to do in the 1950s.

Screenshot_20200620-213751_YouTube.jpg
Someone closing in…

In 1986, at the same locality, college students party around and engage in lots of activities in relation to pledge week being organized at a local university. Among the students walking down the sidewalk are Chris Romero and his handicapped friend J.C. Chris spots a pretty girl from a distance and instantly falls for her at first sight. With the help of J.C., he decides to pursue her…

Quality

Even with a low budget, Night of the Creeps is very creatively done and comes with a good amount of fun for viewers who enjoy elements of horror or sci-fi, 1950s romance, 1980s teen comedy and even detective story. What made this movie a cinematic gem is that Fred Dekker and his creative team combined their strengths with the talents of their cast members specifically Jason Lively, James Marshall, Jill Whitlow and Tom Atkins.

At its core, Night of the Creeps is a zombie horror flick that had sci-fi elements of UFOs and the 1950s as a strong foundation (in addition to serving in the background of the plot). Those combined genre elements alone (backed with a plot that is cohesive enough thanks to Dekker) made this movie solid and yet, the implementation of detective/crime storytelling and 1980s teen comedy (specifically college culture) further added more punch and variety in making the film really engaging and fun.

That being said, the actors delivered the goods with their respective performances. Jason Lively and Steve Marshall have excellent chemistry together as the 1980s college boys Chris Romero and J.C. They started their acts as typical college guys trying to achieve something when it comes to campus achievements and winning the girl’s heart. They also delivered strong performances on the comedy and they pushed their dramatic limits further when the film’s tone shifted to horror. Jill Whitlow is interesting as sorority girl Cynthia who has that girl-next-door charm. She proved to be talented with acting as she had convincing romantic chemistry with a certain jerk and Chris.

Screenshot_20200620-212933_YouTube.jpg
Steve Marshal, Jason Lively and Jill Whitlow as J.C., Chris Romero and Cynthia.

Screenshot_20200620-221558_YouTube.jpg
The horror film genre legend himself, Tom Atkins!

The standout performer among them all, unsurprisingly, is Tom Atkins as detective Ray Cameron. Before making this movie, Atkins worked in horror movies and a few cult movies, and got involved with the legendary John Carpenter. As such, playing the veteran detective Cameron here was a natural fit for the actor. As the aging and troubled detective, Atkins portrayed him dramatically and because of his very rugged touch, the actor really looked like he actually lived through decades of police work in the fictional town. Atkins also proved to be very good with quotes, specifically with “Thrill me!” It should be noted that this is Atkins’ personal favorite role in the horror genre.

When it comes to telling a cohesive story to emphasize the mixed genre elements, I should say Fred Dekker and his team succeeded. The pacing ran at a medium pace for the most part and even during the slower scenes, there was never a boring moment. More on storytelling, Night of the Creeps’ concept made sense for the most part (about how a slug from outer space would gradually cause zombification on people and even animals, in the midst of college-related events happening) and still had room for suspense, spectacle (note: Jason Lively and Jill Whitlow themselves used dangerous weapons near the end of the film) and, yes, character development! All of that pulled of nicely in roughly ninety minutes and the viewing experience was ultimately fun and engaging.

Screenshot_20200620-214622_YouTube.jpg
I wonder if this image would be considered offensive by the SJWs…

Screenshot_20200620-213511_YouTube.jpg
Perhaps this will inspire you to research what American life was like back in the 1950s.

It should be noted that, in terms of presentation, key scenes were very well directed and strong performances from the actors were realized. The scene where detective Cameron and Chris had a private talk was intriguing to watch, and that one had the strongest act Tom Atkins made in the film. I should also mention that, apart from the dramatics and performances, I enjoyed the cinematography done by Robert C. New especially with the way the camera moved as the actors delivered their lines in key sequences. There were closeups that perfectly captured the moments when the actors delivered their strongest acts. Last but not least, the music by Barry De Vorzon fit the film’s tone and concept smoothly.

Conclusion

Screenshot_20200620-215940_YouTube.jpg
Here they come…

I really love Night of the Creeps and I want you – my readers and fellow film buffs and pop culture geeks – to watch it from start to finish. I never saw this movie in the cinemas in the 1980s but was fortunate enough to watch it on cable TV on a late night in 1998 (twelve years after its cinematic release). That was a night I’ll never forget because Night of the Creeps delivered the fun and exceeded my expectations. Then years ago, I finally acquired the Sony Pictures Blu-ray disc release which I replayed from time to time at the comfort of home with my Xbox One console as the disc player. The film looks even better in high-definition!

The best thing I love about Night of the Creeps is its big mix of genre elements which was supported by solid storytelling and performances. When it comes to spectacle or shock moments, it should be stated that the practical effects used (note: no CGI or computer-generated images here) in the movie still stand up strongly until now although I must say that the aliens creatures in the early part of the story were just not convincing enough.

Even by today’s standards, Night of the Creeps is enjoyable and gripping to watch, and the fact is nobody in Hollywood is making anything like it, nor are there any filmmakers willing to do a big mix of genre elements and tell a cohesive story with good performance from hired talents. This alone makes Fred Dekker’s directorial debut a cinematic gem that has been overlooked by too many people

In light of modern society and its norms, I declare that Night of the Creeps will give you a good dose of escapism not only from real life but also from the corrupted and highly politicized culture of Hollywood which points to the Political Left (whose central figure Barack Obama supports Iran, the terrorists and illegal immigrants) and its trouble makers (examples: social justice warriors or SJWS, the socialists, the radical feminists, the LGBTQ) who managed to infiltrate the American film industry and even the American media (note: you can tell if a movie review was written by an SJW who only writes something to fit his/her social justice agenda). This old movie was made to deliver fun without any political garbage whatsoever. That being said, it will make you wish that Hollywood would just focus on making their movies truly entertaining and be free from political poison at the same time. Movies that carry political overtones or emphasize identity politics are major turn-offs.

Overall, Night of the Creeps is highly recommended! That being said, I urge you to order a Blu-ray copy of Night of the Creeps now at Shout Factory and Amazon. Whichever Blu-ray version you acquire (note: the Shout Factory version has newer and more extra stuff), you can’t go wrong with Night of the Creeps in high-definition.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Total Recall (1990)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching the movie and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

I miss the old days when an R-rated action-packed science fiction movie can be passionately made with exceptional directing, clever writing, great camera work that’s consistently steady, solid performances from the actors, action that was not too choreographed, and visuals that heavily utilized practical effects and optical effects.

I’m talking about Total Recall, the 1990 sci-fi action movie that starred a much younger Arnold Schwarzenegger supported by Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin and Ronny Cox. Directed by Paul Verhoeven (who directed the 1987 classic RoboCop) with a screenplay (based on the Philip K. Dick short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale) by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon and Gary Goldman, Total Recall was a tremendous hit in the cinemas grossing more than $261 million worldwide with a production budget of over $60 million. To date, the film remains a favorite not only with fans of Schwarzenegger but also with people who love action movies, sci-fi movies, movies of the 1990s and geeks.

But before looking back at this movie, it is important to take note that Total Recall took several years of development before it finally got produced. The very first screenplay was written by O’Bannon and Shusett in the 1970s (after securing the film rights to Philip K. Dick’s short story when the author was still alive). Eventually prolific movie producer Dino De Laurentiis took the project for development. Years later, De Laurentiis’ company collapsed (due to failed projects) which provided Schwarzenegger the golden opportunity to get Total Recall by persuading Carolco to secure the rights for a few million dollars. After many screenplay drafts written and the hiring of Verhoeven as director (note: Schwarzenegger approached him personally) plus Gary Goldman, the rest became history.

Screenshot_20200524-002827_YouTube.jpg
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Michael Ironside and Ronny Cox in a memorable scene.

Now, here is a look back at Total Recall.

Early Story

The story begins at the surface of planet Mars where a man and a lady (both wearing space suits) travel on foot. Suddenly, the man slips down and breaks the frontal shield of his helmet exposing himself to Mars’ air. It turned out to be an intense nightmare for Douglas Quaid who was in bed with his beautiful wife Lori. Lori asked him about the unidentified woman who appeared in his dreams, but Quaid expresses his love for her. On his way to work, Quaid saw a TV ad inside the train about Rekall, a company that sells holidays and adventures in the form of memories. At work, his fellow construction worker discouraged him from availing of any services from Rekall. After work, Quaid visits Rekall and decides to avail of an ego trip as a secret agent. Just as the memory trip was about to start, Quaid wakes up violently…

Quality

This movie is still great to watch. Let me start first with the creative team of Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Screenshot_20200524-002229_YouTube.jpg
A great action scene about to start…

When it comes to the synergy between the director and the lead player, Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger make a great creative team that made this movie very special! When asked during an interview what it was like for him to work with Schwarzenegger, Verhoeven said:  Arnold is great. Switching from Rutger Hauer to Arnold is not that big a step. It’s strange to say that, because he’s this crazy Austrian, with an accent—but, for me, Arnold is the American Rutger. I think if I did a few movies with Arnold, I could do as much with him as I did with Rutger. Now, this movie was the wrong thing . . . But I think you can do much more with Arnold, explore more possibilities, than was necessary for this movie.

Screenshot_20200523-235159_YouTube.jpg
Sharon Stone as Lori.

Now, it is a fact that Schwarzenegger lacks versatility when it comes to acting. Even so, Verhoeven succeeded in getting a deeper-than-expected performance from the star in this movie. Sure, we get to see Schwarzenegger fight bad guys with really rough action, fire guns, run and jump around here but what really stood out here was his portrayal of a man who discovers that the life he knew was all a lie and goes on to find the truth about himself. This role remains a standout role of Schwarzenegger’s among all the characters he played in his many other action films. What is also notable with Douglas Quaid is that the protagonist is always in danger and never invincible, very similar to how Bruce Willis played John McClane in Die Hard. If you watch this film after seeing Schwarzenegger play his invincible icon in the Terminator movies, you will feel his pain, tension and curiosity here! As if that was not enough, there is also the other role Schwarzenegger played in this movie that you should see.

Of course, Total Recall also drew greatness and depth from Verhoeven who also got strong performances from Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin and Ronny Cox. Sharon Stone is the beautiful wife who will shock you. Michael Ironside is the henchman who will make you root for Schwarzenegger even more. Rachel Ticotin is the brave woman who is believable with the cause she is involved with.

Screenshot_20200524-002035_YouTube.jpg
Rachel Ticotin as Melina.

More notably, Ronny Cox is the all-powerful and ruthless executive who will get on your nerves and make you root for Schwarzenegger a lot, very similar to how his villainous role in RoboCop made moviegoers root for the cyborg policeman. It should be noted that the evil executive-henchman duo of Cohaagen (Cox) and Richter (Ironside) here is a directorial trademark of Verhoeven’s and it should bring back memories of the other evil duo in RoboCop. More than that, Ronny Cox succeeded in selling the concept that Cohaagen really had been the administrator of the colony in Mars exploiting the resources and the people for a long time.

More on getting the most out of the actors, Verhoeven and his team crafted a memorable hand-to-hand fight scene between Lori (Stone) and Melina (Ticotin) actually taking part in the action and stunts. Sharon Stone clearly got athletic in this movie and her efforts paid-off nicely, complete with another fight scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger (she actually even threw two high kicks at Schwarzenegger’s head) early in the film. Beyond the hard battle with Stone, Ticotin went on to take part in further action scenes in the film and she sure is believable as an action performer. To put things in perspective, Stone and Ticotin are not action stars but they excelled nicely in their work here and this also made Total Recall special.

When it comes to storytelling under the direction of Verhoeven, Total Recall moved at a medium-to-fast pace and there was never a single moment of rushing, nor a single boring moment at all. The film just kept going smoothly complete with true unpredictability which results lots of twists and surprises. I should also state that the dialogue from the finalized screenplay is still excellent, and they were nicely delivered by the actors. Verhoeven also added depth to the film by using mystery while also getting good performance from Schwarzenegger as Doug Quaid finds out that life is not what it seems. I should state that the sci-fi elements of altering (and adding) human memories with the use of computers and the business of selling virtual holidays and ego trips were strongly emphasized. These also add to the film’s mystery which should engage you to wonder and analyze as the story moves on.

Screenshot_20200524-003106_YouTube.jpg
The best view from an office on planet Mars.

On the spectacle, Total Recall is heavily loaded! The action is violent, plentiful and carries that particular aesthetic that only director Verhoeven has. It’s hard to explain in words but once you watch the action in this movie (plus comparing it to RoboCop and Starship Troopers), you will realize it. Even so, the action never turned this movie into a brainless affair. The action worked nicely to balance the mystery and suspense.

The visual effects here were mostly done by practical and optical ways. Special effects specialist Rob Bottin, who famously worked in John Carpenter’s The Thing and worked also with Verhoeven in RoboCop, came up with very memorable animatronics to simulate facial and physical changes on characters on key sequences involving sci-fi elements. The team also crafted really freaky looking makeup works on the Mars mutants, which really gave this film a strong sci-fi look. I also like the use of miniatures and physical sets that visualized the colony in Mars. By today’s standards, this movie’s visual effects still look great and I can only wish that filmmakers today would rely less on computers and go back to using practical effects (note: physical stuff) and, on certain occasions, optical effects.

Screenshot_20200524-000149_YouTube.jpg
Really great movie makeup work by Rob Bottin.

When it comes to the physical environments, this movie was filmed a lot in Mexico, specifically on key locations and on the sound stages in an established movie production studio there. Years ago, when I first learned for the first time that the trains used in the film were real-life trains that actually operated in one of Mexico’s real-life transportation systems, I was astounded! Paul Verhoeven himself confirmed that the train sequences were not only shot on location with real trains (note: monitors were added by the filmmakers to achieve a futuristic look) but the place’s architectural design were very unique and fitted nicely with the sci-fi concept of the movie.

The Mars colony set does not look fake to me. In fact, it really looks like it has long been lived in by people and the filmmakers nicely designed it. The Venusville set looks very convincing and, within the story, it got decayed due to long-term businesses, constant vehicular traffic and people who always flocked the place. The Mars hotel meanwhile has that cleaner, nicer look with tourists who paid good money for pleasure and discovery.

I should mention that the cinematography here done by Jost Vacano is excellent. The set-ups of the camera to get great angles of the actors is special, and the same can be said about the capturing of the spectacle that happened on-screen. The flashback of Mars inside Quaid’s mind had great, floating views of the location complete with perfectly smooth movement! Vacano also worked with Verhoeven in RoboCop.

Finally, the musical score by the late Jerry Goldsmith is very memorable and this is my favorite among all his works. The music provided gave this movie a strong sci-fi feel and when suspense plays, the tunes added nicely to it. The most memorable music tracks here are the opening credits music (which is immersive) and the foot chase between Quaid and Richter on Earth (the music really keeps the pace high).

Conclusion

Screenshot_20200523-233244_YouTube.jpg
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid in a key scene.

Total Recall is a true, adulterated sci-fi action classic and easily it is still is one of the best ever movies I’ve seen from Schwarzenegger, Verhoeven and Stone. A few visual elements did not age well but its highly engaging story (combined with the strong performances and spectacle) remains its key selling point. There is a lot of ambiguity throughout the film and it will keep you wondering if the story (or at least portions of it) was reality or all a dream in Quaid’s mind. The way the story is structured combined with the excellent spectacle, this is a movie that is worth watching again and again! It remains an effective viewing experience for me until now.

As it contains the directorial trademarks of Verhoeven mixed with Schwarzenegger’s own style of expression and hard action, Total Recall is a very unique move of its own and it’s impossible to replicate nor match. Keep in mind that the 2012 remake of this movie was badly made (even though it had a big budget and highly advanced visual effects involving the use of computers) and ended up being a complete failure.

To put it short, Total Recall is more than just an action-packed thrill ride. It is also a mystery film that will keep viewers on the edge as the search for answers continues. Total Recall also explores the theme of what would you do when you realize that the life you remember turned to be an exceptional lie, and that you are literally caught in the middle of a web surrounded by dangerous, powerful people. I could never forget how my mind got motivated as I focused on the narrative the first time I ever saw this great movie decades ago. Total Recall was a sci-fi viewing experience like no other.

Overall, Total Recall (1990) is highly recommended! I urge you, my readers, to buy the movie on Blu-ray disc or watch it via streaming.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching the movie and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Considering how long the Friday The 13th franchise of horror movies lasted throughout entertainment history, there were indeed chapters that proved to be good, bad or simply satisfactory towards its fans and other moviegoers.

Having seen ALL the Friday The 13th movies myself, I can say without hesitation that the most defining films of the franchise were the first four films (released 1980 to 1984) which eerily reminds me of the early stage of James Bonds movies released in the 1960s (read: Sean Connery and Albert Broccoli struck cinematic gold with 1964’s Goldfinger).

As I mentioned before, Friday The 13th Part 3 was indeed a fun horror movie and marked the time when the film franchise and its featured villain Jason Voorhees really started to take shape. It was the film that saw Jason wearing his now iconic hockey mask, and improved the creative formula (examples: Jason’s stalking and eliminating people, his encounter with the surviving protagonist or the final girl). In other words, Part 3 ended on a very strong note and high fun factor, setting the stage for the inevitable sequel Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (AKA Part 4).

2
This dangerous stunt will always remain memorable.

Before starting this retro movie review, it’s important to take note of what happened in Hollywood that led to the creation of the 1984 movie.

Background

After Friday The 13th Part 3 rode the 3D movie trend and made a lot of money on ticket sales alone, Paramount Pictures perceived that the slasher horror genre was waning with moviegoers and decided that the Friday The 13th franchise should end. Eventually Joseph Zito was hired to write and direct The Final Chapter. The funny thing was that Zito secretly hired Barney Cohen to write the screenplay, going as far to take phone conferences with one of the producers, share details with Cohen to produce the pages (Zito and Cohen collaborated on the script in a New York apartment) which were sent to the producer (who would go back to the director).

Because it was clear that the film was supposed to end the franchise, Zita wanted the film the be about the death of the newly masked Jason and this explains why The Final Chapter opened where Part 3 ended…at the Higgins property which Jason’s body in the barn. The director told Cohen to focus on developing the characters (as opposed to emphasizing kills). Of course, this did not stop Zito from ramping up the kill count, the gore and nudity. With the cast hired, veteran stunt performer Ted White hired as Jason and movie makeup specialist Tom Savini rehired (note: he worked on the 1980 Friday movie and created Jason’s look as a youth), Zito really wanted to end the franchise with a bang!

With those details already recorded in history, here now is my retro movie review of Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter.

Early story

Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter opened with a recap of Jason, the killings and how things turned out in the first three movies, cleverly using Part 2’s camp fire scene in which Paul told the camp trainees the legend of Jason.

The story begins on the evening of Monday the 16th. For some weird reason, the local police and other emergency personnel arrived at the Higgins property (note: this was the very same California location where Part 3 was filmed at) at least twelve hours after Part 3’s lone survivor Chris Higgins was picked up by the police during the morning.

After picking up the dead bodies and examining the venue for evidence, the medical personnel brought Jason’s unmoving body to the local medical center with his mask and clothes still intact. Some time into the night, Jason (Ted White) discreetly gets up and kills two medical personnel before leaving for the great area of Crystal Lake.

The next morning, Tuesday the 17th, Mrs. Jarvis (Joan Freeman) and her daughter Trish (Kimberly Beck) jog together in the woods heading towards their country home which is located some distance away from Crystal Lake. Inside the house is the young son Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) who is a geek and collector of special stuff. The family is already aware of the killings Jason caused over the past few days (refer to Part 2 and Part 3) and Mrs. Jarvis referred to him as the psycho.

4
Remember the good old days when print media journalism was much more credible and not too politicized?

Meanwhile, a new group of teenagers riding a car are on their way to the Crystal Lake area for a group vacation completely unaware that Jason is on the loose. Their destination is a vacation house located very near the Jarvis home…

Quality

Even though the production team had a low budget, this film had improved production values which is literally only the tip of the iceberg. The real indicator of this movie’s quality is with the overall execution in terms of directing, storytelling, characterization (yes, there is character development here) and horror spectacle. The good news is that Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter’s overall quality is pretty good.

For starters, the creative team took the bold approach of having a family and a group of teenagers as targets for Jason’s killing spree. The presence of a likable family like the Jarvises made the Friday The 13th formula feel fresh since the old approach of having teenagers (and a few adults) getting killed off has gotten repetitive. Having good natured characters like Mrs. Jarvis, Trish and Tommy should remind you of the likable families living in your neighborhood. As such, the Jarvis family in the story will make you get concerned for them and despise Jason for the evil icon he truly is.

The new batch of teenagers in this film is an improvement over Part 3’s teenagers (which by the way are more likable than those in Part 2). Among them is Jimmy (Crispin Glover), a troubled young guy trying to achieve something important in his life. There is also Sara (Barbara Howard) who is sweet and appears reserved for Doug (Peter Barton). The pretty twins (Camilla More and Carey More), who just appeared into the film encountering the rest of the youth, added nice variety to the romance potential among them. On the other hand, Ted (Lawrence Monoson), is the stereotypical unlikable and pathetic guy meant for viewers to despise. Samantha (Judie Aronson) is the lady craving for sensual love with Paul (Clyde Hayes).

6
Ted: Hey, could you please pass to me a copy of that fake news-oriented local community print media publication? The tabloid, not the broadsheet.

What this movie clearly had in bringing some of the above-mentioned characters to life is character development. Director Zito and team succeeded in making the Jarvis family worth caring for. Jimmy is the teenager that moviegoers would relate with and also root for him to succeed. The other cast members, notably the teenagers wanting fun and satisfaction (skinny dipping and partying, anyone?), were made to be interesting and were clearly not merely disposable. Sara is likable and she looks like she could rival Trish in terms of who would be worthy to be the film’s final girl, not to mention who would be more worthy of the care from the viewers.

In terms of presentation, this film has a more serious tone. Other than Jimmy’s ever memorable dance, the approach to humor is noticeably weaker when compared to Part 3. At the same time, the killings of Jason are executed and made to really look visceral. When Jason kills a character who is likable or at least interesting, you will really feel bad or sorry, and then despise Jason. Speaking of Jason, the filmmakers made him look scarier with the visceral approach to killing on-screen and the fact that Ted White avoided speaking to the other cast members in between takes.

5
The memorable Crispin Glover dance!

3
One of many hard-hitting stunts in the movie.

When it comes to the stunts, the film crew really went all-out and it involved a lot of pain on the part of the actors because of the lack of safety and stunt performers as a result of the low budget. The stunts in this movie were executed with a lot of intensity and when each stunt ends, you will feel something. Take note that Ted White is a veteran of stunt performing and even doubled for Clark Gable long ago.

Remember the traditional stunts of having a human body thrown into the house through the ground-floor window? Such a stunt in this movie had a lot more impact than what was shown in the first three films. As for the stunt involving the very young Corey Feldman, that one was real and there was a huge risk of injury due to the lack of safety measures. Regardless, the stunt was performed and Feldman’s surprise and shouting were genuine. Here’s a video clip for you to enjoy.

The presentation of the on-screen kills and stunts here are the absolute best of the Friday The 13th franchise. The scare factor is also much stronger.

As for the music, Harry Manfredini returned. His musical score proved to be excellent in terms of bringing life into the scenes complete with precise timing.

Conclusion

I declare that Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter is the best and the most definitive movie of its franchise. It’s also one of the best and most defining horror movies ever released in the 1980s. It’s not worthy of awards for film excellence but it still is a major standout among all horror movies of the 1980s. It should be noted that this movie implemented a twist to the final-girl-versus-Jason formula of the first three movies by having a key character involved during the climax.

Believe it or not, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter actually had a lot of tension between the director and actors during production (Note: Ted White stood up for the younger actors who had to endure physical pain due to lack of safety, and this put him into direct conflict with the director. And then White was very annoyed with Corey Feldman who in turn was allegedly badly treated on location by Zito).

Even so, the movie turned out to be its franchise’s biggest highlight, the best of it all! Apart from the final results made by director Zito and his crew, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter owes part of its success to Friday The 13th Part 3 since that movie (a clear improvement over Part 2) helped set the stage for the fourth movie on a creative manner.

At the same time, it was in this fourth Friday The 13th movie where Jason truly became a horror icon as well as one of America’s pop culture icons. Director Zito, Tom Savini and Ted White combined their efforts on making this the most definitive story of Jason Voorhees who was not a zombie but a living human killer who simply won’t stop due to the evil in him. This movie’s Jason is clearly a dramatic improvement over Part 3’s Jason (which in turn was a dramatic improvement over Part 2’s Jason-with-a-potato-sack-for-a-mask) and each time the villain was on screen, you can sense his evil force. The mere fact that Trish got frightened by Jason at different stages of the chase between them proves how intimidating and scary the masked killer really is.

1
This is the best Friday The 13th movie ever!

Overall, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter is highly recommended. For the best viewing experience and story immersion into Friday The 13th, I recommend watching Part 3 and this movie back-to-back.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back At Friday The 13th Part 3

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced by means of watching the movie and doing research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Long before movie franchising and shared cinematic universes became normal in modern day Hollywood, the very low-budget Friday The 13th movie of 1980 became a very profitable success and paved the way for sequels throughout the decade. Really, the first movie was just a standalone, self-contained story of horror set in the American summer camp. There really was no plan back then to turn that particular film into a series of movies that showcased people getting killed in slasher horror style.

Because Friday The 13th grossed almost $60 million worldwide, its first sequel Friday The 13th Part 2 was rushed into production (with more than double its predecessor’s budget) and eventually got released less than a year later. Part 2 made $21.7 million in America (note: overseas ticket sales remain unavailable) which was barely half that of its predecessor ($39.7 million) in the same market.

Creatively, Part 2 was made with Jason Voorhees as the antagonist because (SPOILER) his mother was the killer in the first movie. While Jason was indeed a victim in the 1980 movie, the Part 2 filmmakers had to make hard changes to establish him as the new killer and expand on the previous film’s concept. The result was that, within Friday The 13th’s version of history, Jason somehow witnessed his mother’s death from a distance and motivated him to become a territorial killer at Crystal Lake (note: the first movie established him as having drowned to death because the summer camp counselors did not watch him). This paved the way into introducing a grown-up Jason (wearing a potato sack as mask) as the new killer in the sequel.

Even though the box office reception for Part 2 was weaker, this did not stop the filmmakers and Paramount Pictures from pushing through with a sequel: Friday The 13th Part 3. To say the least, the business model on making Friday The 13th movies with very low budgets and raking big profits was too good for the filmmakers to stop doing. At the same time, the 1980s saw a huge demand for slasher horror. As if that was not enough, there was a short-lived revival of 3D cinematic viewing (moviegoers wore the old-style red-and-blue 3D visors to see the 3D effects on the screen) which the Part 3 filmmakers (led by director Steve Miner and producer Frank Mancuso, Jr.) decided to capitalize on. As such, they used special cameras and lenses to make Part 3.

Screenshot_20200313-225025_YouTube.jpg
This is what the film looked like in 3D and this is the 3D yoyo scene.

Enough with the history of the Friday The 13th film franchise for now. This is my retro movie review of 1982’s Friday The 13th Part 3.

Early Story

The movie opens (SPOILER for Part 2) with a recap of the final conflict in Part 2 showing Ginny (Amy Steel) in Jason’s shack in the forest. After some struggle near the makeshift shrine which had the decapitated head of Jason’s dead mother, Ginny’s boyfriend Paul arrived to save her from Jason. As Jason focused on fighting Paul, Ginny struck the killer with a blade on his left shoulder putting him down. After Ginny and Paul left the shack, it turns out that Jason (in brand new footage for the movie, a creative attempt to revise key story elements) was still alive and slowly moved.

The next day – Saturday the 14th – at a small town store (with a private residence), Jason (still wearing his clothes from Part 2) arrives and kills the couple (the owners) in the evening. Before getting killed, the wife saw TV news footage of Ginny being moved into an ambulance (using daytime footage from the ending of Part 2) establishing the current day as Saturday.

Screenshot_20200312-230358_YouTube.jpg
The bodies of the husband and wife being moved into the ambulance. Jason killed them on the evening of Saturday.

And yet the next day – Sunday the 15th – a group of teenagers travel together in a van heading towards the private property of Higgins Haven which is located by Crystal Lake. Due to the lack of security, Jason moved there in secret becoming a danger to them…

Quality

With a budget that was much bigger than that of Part 2, Friday The 13th Part 3 has better production values. Higgins Haven in the film was a nice physical set that was actually constructed from scratch in California. The vacation house, the barn and even Crystal Lake (which looked radically different from the first two films) were all made on location. Of course, money had to be spent on making tracks and setting up the cameras which had special lenses for filming in 3D. I also noticed that Part 3’s visuals are a lot more colorful to look at than in Part 2 which is the result of using the cameras with special lenses. The downside of this is the constant lack of sharpness on the visuals when compared to Part 1 and 2.

Screenshot_20200312-230434_YouTube.jpg
Larry Zerner’s Shelly (middle) is one of the most memorable characters of the entire Friday The 13th film franchise.

In terms of storytelling, this movie looked generic on face value when compared to not only the other Friday The 13th films but also with the many other slasher horror movies that were released. There is a group of people who don’t realize they were being stalked by a killer. The killings are done in secret. Some people either have sex or use illegal drugs. The film’s protagonist encounters the killer and somehow survives. The storytelling is shallow and the characters were designed to be mostly killed off by the antagonist. Of course, there was no real room for any character development.

The good news about this particular movie is that it was nicely paced, there were no boring moments, the on-screen kills were visceral enough, there was an amount of humor to balance the tone enough, and most of all, Part 3 is a lot more fun to watch than any of its predecessors.

Screenshot_20200312-231454_YouTube.jpg
Nothing like being stalked by Jason.

Adding more to the fun factor was that the cast of characters was pretty good. Dana Kimmell as Chris Higgins is charming, romantic, physically capable and also sympathetic. Larry Zerner meanwhile is funny to watch as Shelly who is an overweight guy trying hard to gain attention and friendship. Zerner has a certain appeal of being funny without ever becoming an on-screen annoyance. Like Chris, Shelly is also sympathetic.

Similar character traits are also found in Debbie played by Tracie Savage, and Vera played by Catherine Parks. Vera is the lady on a blind date willing to have fun as she goes on a journey of discovery with her friend. Debbie is pretty, sweet and loves to have fun with her boyfriend even though she is already pregnant. By the way, Tracie Savage acted early as a little girl and her performance her shows it. In real life, Savage went on to become a credible journalist and she was involved in covering the O.J. Simpson murder story of the mid-1990s. Check out Tracie Savage in these embedded videos below.

Screenshot_20200313-224951_YouTube.jpg
Tracie Savage in 3D as Debbie!

And then there are the arrogant, leather-wearing bikers who were written only to cause trouble. Kevin O’Brien as Loco is tough, Gloria Charles as Fox is rude and yet has a weakness for doing something fun, while Nick Savage as Ali is both savage and even funny.

As for Rick played by Paul Kratka is the least interesting character as the good-intentioned boyfriend of Chris. Rick is bland not because of Kratka’s performance but rather the way he was written for the film.

Richard Brooker, a circus performer, excelled in his portrayal as Jason Voorhees and he provided the template on how the icon should act on screen. Not only was he physically imposing, he had to endure the tough procedure of going through several hours of movie makeup (for Jason’s distorted face) before even wearing the hockey mask. Brooker’s Jason is a major improvement over than of Part 2 and it’s too bad we never got to see him reprise the villain.

Screenshot_20200312-231540_YouTube.jpg
Richard Brooker as Jason Voorhees. Believe it or not, the use of a hockey mask in the film was unplanned and it so happened than one of the film crew members was an ice hockey fan and he had a mask with him.

When it comes to on-screen spectacle, the killings by Jason were creative and visceral at the same time. Apart from a few on-screen kills that paid homage to key kills in the 1980 movie, Brooker and the filmmakers delivered a good job on showing how deadly Jason is as the killer. We also get to see that Jason is not only unstoppable but also is very strong (look at what happened to Rick) and even agile (look at his first encounter with Ali). It was also in this film where moviegoers got to see for the first time how visceral a hockey mask-wearing killer could be on the big screen.

Dana Kimmell proved to be capable with the stunts she was given and the action during the encounters between Chris and Jason. Her attempts to fight back at Jason with the knife was believable in terms of character desperation. She is comparable with Amy Steel (Part 2’s Ginny) but is ahead in terms of doing the stunts. Kimmell even had an accident during a chase in which she tripped and fell down face-first.

On storytelling, Part 3’s fimmakers made the right gamble by having the film set immediately after the events of Part 2. Originally there was a plan to make Part 3 feature Ginny in a new story setting her up with another encounter with Jason. Because Amy Steel turned the role down, this particular movie became the result. Part 3’s filmmakers scored a right move having the story set at a private vacation property by Crystal Lake which is a nice change from the summer camp settings of its predecessors.

When it comes to cinematic style, I just love the way director Steve Miner had Jason appear discreetly on screen long before he gets the hockey mask. To see Jason standing on the foreground (no head shown) looking at the characters in the background remains creepy and stylish, slowly adding to the build-up of suspense. To see Jason slowly creeping in the background was also creepy. These are cinematic moves that were not used that much anymore in the sequels that followed.

If there is anything lack here, it definitely is the 3D cinematography which involved a process that is crude and ineffective by today’s standards. The old-style 3D (with 3d visors of red and blue) visuals can be viewed on an HDTV when selected but such visuals have not aged well. I personally prefer to watch it in old-fashioned 2D even though the sharpness of the pictures is lacking and even though the key on-screen moments originally filmed for 3D (with objects captured close to the camera) look out of place. Back to storytelling, I felt that Chris Higgin’s recall of a past incident in the woods felt like an afterthought on the part of the screenwriters.

Conclusion

Overall, Friday The 13th Part 3 is a fun horror movie to watch again. It is not only one of the best ever Friday The 13th films released, but also one of the strongest among all slasher horror movies released in the 1980s. That being said, it made the original Friday The 13th look more of a bore and it made Friday The 13th Part 2 look half-baked. Truly, Part 3 was the film that had the standards of fun and engagement of its film franchise raised higher. Of all the Friday The 13th movies I saw in my life, I declare that Part 3 is the 2nd best film of the franchise.

In terms of cinematic artistry, Part 3 serves as the template on storytelling and structuring for the franchise similar to how Goldfinger became a standard for the James Bond film franchise. To make things clear, this film not only showed Jason wearing for the first time an ice hockey mask (now iconic in American pop culture) but also showed why he is so dangerous whether he stalks people or strikes them down. This film marked the true beginning of the now iconic Jason Voorhees and the filmmakers did a nice job in showcasing him as a horrifying antagonist, easily blowing away the Part 2 potato sack hermit Jason.

Screenshot_20200312-231703_YouTube.jpg
Dana Kimmell as Chris (right) in a scene that copied a similar scene in the first movie.

The film has, in my view, the most appealing cast of characters. There are key characters worth caring for and when you see the most likeable characters killed off, you will feel very sorry for them.

What struck me most was what happened to Chris at the very, very end of the film. Granted, she is the final girl of this movie but what I saw when this film ended will always stick me. Without spoiling anything, I should say that Dana Kimmell’s Chris is creatively a standout among all the many slasher horror movie final girls that were presented. I really felt sorry for Chris and Dana Kimmell was very convincing with her performance.

Back to Friday The 13th Part 3’s quality and overall fun factor, I can boldly declare that without this film, the filmmakers of the sequel Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (Part 4) would not even have the foundation and concepts to make their own film great. Really, Part 3 is really good and it’s even intriguing to learn that it was originally made to mark the end of its franchise.

Overall, Friday The 13th Part 3 is highly recommended. To those who are about to watch it for the first time, remember that this movie is a part of 1980s Hollywood history.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Wonder Woman (2017)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced by means of watching the movie and doing research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

I just love watching superhero movies, especially the ones that were well crafted by the filmmakers complete with solid storytelling, sufficient spectacle as well as memorable performances by the hired talents (both behind and in front of the camera).

Of all the superhero movies made by the forces of Hollywood starting with 1978’s Superman, I can clearly say that 2017’s Wonder Woman is my favorite. Don’t get me wrong. I did not limit myself to just DC Comics superhero movies. I saw all the X-Men movies and their spinoffs, almost all the Spider-Man flicks, almost all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and even the obscure ones. Along the way, there were some great superhero flicks that became modern-day classics like Logan and Avengers: Infinity War.

Still it is the Gal Gadot-led, Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman that I loved watching the most.

Let’s start with my retro review of Wonder Woman, the one film that arguably saved the DC Comics Cinematic Universe for Warner Bros.

WWposter1
The Wonder Woman movie poster from 2017.

Early Story

The story begins sometime after the end of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice during which Diana finds a long lost photograph recovered by Bruce Wayne. Then she remembers her past in Themyscira where she grew up as the only little girl among the women called the Amazons and her mother is none other than Queen Hippolyta. Concerned that the wicked Aries is still alive, Hippolyta’s sister Antiope trains Diana (initially in secret until they were discovered) to be strong, brave and more capable than their fellow Amazon warriors.

One day, Steve Trevor arrives in Themyscira becoming the first-ever man Diana ever met. Tension rises when the Germans (from World War I Earth) arrive on their island causing the Amazons to fight in defense. A lot of people lost their lives, including someone very close to Diana.

While interrogated with the Lasso of Truth, Steve reveals who he is and what he has been doing. He states that back in his world, World War I is ravaging the world costing many people their lives. This causes Diana to stand up and stop the war somehow (she believes Aries is responsible). Queen Hippolyta disapproves of Diana’s analysis. After privately meeting with Steve, Diana then starts her move for a mission to stop the war in Man’s World.

Quality

Screenshot_20200228-213823_YouTube.jpg
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in the middle of German soldiers.

Let me start with the performances. Gal Gadot definitely IS Wonder Woman in this movie. Regardless of how many versions of Wonder Woman there are in comics, the Israeli actress truly captured the essence of Diana’s early development which includes her special place among the Amazons (note: she is the only Amazon who was born in Themyscira and grew up from infant into a mature woman), her fateful meeting with Steve Trevor, her entry into Man’s World and how she adapts with the events and people outside of Themyscira. Wonder Woman’s purity on saving the world, doing what is right and emphasizing love and compassion were all nicely translated into cinematic art by Gal Gadot. From doing the action scenes to saving people, speaking her mind among her fellow Amazons and interacting with others as she adapts with Man’s World, I really love Gadot’s work on bringing Wonder Woman to life. As her cinematic work is great, there is no doubt that Gadot will always be iconic to fans of the Queen of Superheroes and superhero enthusiasts in general in the decades to come right beside Lynda Carter (who played the icon on TV), Christopher Reeve (Superman), Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man) and Chris Evans (Captain America). Meanwhile, the portrayals of Diana as an 8-year-old girl as well as a 12-year-old were perfectly done by Lilly Aspell (who is truly skilled with horse riding) and Emily Carey.

QueenDaughter
Lilly Aspell as young Diana with Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta.

Chris Pine is excellent as Steve Trevor who is portrayed to be very dedicated to his work, brave in what he does and still shows compassion instead of arrogance towards others. He also has great chemistry with Gal Gadot and, like in the comic books, their relationship is nicely translated on the big screen. Pine’s performance here is, in my view, the best superhero movie supporting role to date.

Screenshot_20200228-213746_YouTube.jpg
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor with Gal Gadot as Diana in disguise.

Connie Nielsen meanwhile is great in playing Queen Hippolyta and all throughout, there is always a sense of leadership complete with a touch of motherly love just like in the comic books. Her sister Antiope was nicely portrayed by Robin Wright as the one Amazon who taught Diana to be brave, strong and highly capable as an Amazon warrior.

Danny Huston, who played the lead villain in the 2009 movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played yet another military bad guy here but this time he’s a World War I German officer. He’s a villain with a purpose who not only fights for the glory of Germany but also strongly believes that war is natural and inevitable for humanity. In some ways, Huston’s Ludendorff reminds me Michael Shannon’s General Zod in Man of Steel.

Antiope
Robin Wright is excellent as Antiope.

When it comes to presentation, this film is Patty Jenkins’ 2nd movie as director (her debut was way back in 2003) and the great turnout of Wonder Woman as a high quality movie (as opposed to being a critical and commercial success) only proved yet again that the old saying in Hollywood – The director’s second movie is his/her best movie – is true. Jenkins, who also worked on television, not only prepared a lot to make this movie but also researched Wonder Woman, developed ways to get the most out of the cast members, tweak the written story of the film (by Allan Heinberg, Zach Snyder and Jason Fuchs) and, most notably, she led the production with a lot of passion. To put it short, Wonder Woman is a labor of love (and the No Man’s Land scene is iconic) that not only resonated with fans of the Queen of Superheroes but also with the film critics and moviegoers.

Regarding storytelling, I noticed that a key story from Wonder Woman’s origin in the comics (the contest of the Amazons) did not happen at all in the film. While there were die-hard fans of the icon who complained about it, I felt that the contest of the Amazons would have made this movie more complicated and surely would have lessened the impact of World War I as a key story element. Since the purpose of this movie was to emphasize Diana’s origin and her entry into Man’s World with a major mission, I believe that the contest of the Amazons can be made cinematically later in a future movie.

The way the story was told cinematically, it also captured Diana’s reactions to the events that happened around her. The scene in which she saw the village destroyed showed how death and destruction compelled Wonder Woman to accomplish her mission even though others find ending the war impossible. Along the way, the actors – specifically Gal Gadot – really added life into the narrative with their strong performances.

When it comes to on-screen humor, which is popular among moviegoers and is almost a requirement for most new superhero movies that come out, having it done by supporting players Lucy Davis and Saïd Taghmaoui was a clever move since it allows Gal Gadot to portray Wonder Woman without any performance disruption. Considering her short screen time, Davis as Etta Candy is really funny. The amount of humor in this film, in my view, was just right and never annoying.

Spectacle? Wonder Woman is loaded with action, stunts and exciting stuff! The action involving Wonder Woman was brutal and satisfying to watch, and Patty Jenkins’ use of slow motion on key moments was great (even comparable to John Woo’s past work) and at the same time not too excessive. The Themyscira battle between the Germans and the Amazons at the beach was engaging and strategically filmed. Also, it was fitting that the action ramped up nicely starting with the iconic No Man’s Land sequence. The final battle in the film, unsurprisingly, had lots of computer-generated images (CGI) which is understandable considering the fantasy element of Wonder Woman.

More on the action, I love the way Patty Jenkins had Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen and Chris Pine perform the action themselves which all made their characters even more believable. Of course, there were certain moments in which stunt doubles were used to do the more dangerous moments on behalf of the actors.

Screenshot_20200228-213315_YouTube.jpg
This happened just before the iconic No Man’s Land scene.

Apart from the core cast, a lot of the actresses playing the Amazons trained for several months not just to look the part but also to perform action sequences using weapons with actual skill. The stunt coordinators and specialists hired by the filmmakers deserve praise for contributing nicely on making the cinematic Amazons highly believable. This alone not only makes Wonder Woman stand out nicely among all Hollywood superhero movies but also reflects nicely what was portrayed in the comic books.

The production design is also top-notch. I love the scenic locations of Italy used for scenes set in Themyscira. The filmmakers also did a great job recapturing the look of World War I Europe from the historical pictures to the big screen. The costume designs were fantastic, and the standout designs were, unsurprisingly, the costumes of the Amazons which really made their fantasy culture look believable. The filmmakers decided to have much more colorful visuals instead of following the look of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.

On the music, the work by Rupert Gregson-Williams was great. His rendition of the Wonder Woman theme was very lively to listen to. The same can be said about the music he provided in the memorable No Man’s Land scene which had a nice build-up as Wonder Woman made her first full appearance in costume on the field. Other tunes played in the film suited the scenes well.

If there were any weak spots in this movie, it would be certain shots of action that were not filmed with precision. I’m talking about filming action scenes way too close to the camera combined with music video-style editing that’s supposed to make film look flashy. It’s not only disorienting, it also took me out of the movie.

Conclusion

Overall, Wonder Woman is one of the best-ever superhero movies ever made and easily my favorite of them all. It has an excellent balance between storytelling, character development and spectacle, and Gal Gadot gave the performance of a lifetime not only by bringing Wonder Woman into life in cinematic form but also emphasizing what the Queen of Superheroes stood for. As part of the current DC Comics Cinematic Universe, this movie stood out by having optimism and heroism as core themes (as opposed to the dark, gritty and even cynical approach of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad) and, more importantly, by focusing strongly on Wonder Woman instead of building up for the Justice League movie (which was released months after this one).

Apart from high-quality production values and a strong creative approach, the cast and cinematic performances are easily among the best in the superhero movie genre. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is an excellent example of a supporting role that is engaging without ever overshadowing the lead role. By the end of the film, you will realize the impact that Queen Hippolyta and Antiope had on Diana’s personal development.

QH
Connie Nielsen made a great queen and mother in this movie.

Being strongly focused on heroism with optimism, director Patty Jenkins and her crew succeeded in making this film without ever succumbing to the extreme views of the Political Left in Hollywood and the loudmouth social feminists. When I see the battle between the Amazons and the German soldiers on the beach of Themyscira happen, I simply saw armed women defending their homeland not from men who intend to rape them but rather men who had no right to intrude in the first place. Even as there were scenes showing men in power in World War I Europe (putting Diana in a powerless position), there still was no feminist-inspired hatred towards men. Also the bond between Steve and Diana developing from friendship into a romantic relationship literally shut the door on extreme feminism.

As a Wonder Woman-focused story, this film succeeded on emphasizing the Queen of Superheroes to both long-time fans and mainstream moviegoers. This movie also had a nice mix of having a fantasy setting with Themyscira moving on to a historic setting with World War I Europe. On the origins of Wonder Woman herself, I don’t mind at all that the contest of Amazons was not told because this movie’s concept is already great to begin with and its running time of 141 minutes was just right.

Wondyclimb
Gal Gadot will be remembered for a very long time for her excellent portray of Wonder Woman in cinema.

With all the greatness it was made with, I kept coming back to Wonder Woman when replaying superhero movies here at the comfort of home. In the cinemas back in 2017, I saw the film three times. Ultimately, I can say out loud that Wonder Woman is highly recommended and it is truly essential!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

If you are looking forward to Wonder Woman 1984, check out my preview and opinion about the first movie trailer.

8-million-strong Christians United for Israel produce cutting-edge documentary — ‘Never Again?’

8-million-strong Christians United for Israel produce cutting-edge documentary — ‘Never Again?’

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — From Pittsburgh to Poway anti-Semitism is increasing in both prevalence and violence in the U.S. and around the world. But the nation’s largest pro-Israel organization – Christians United for Israel – is fighting back and has produced NEVER AGAIN?, a cutting-edge, feature-length documentary to expose and combat increasing violence and bigotry.

NEVER AGAIN? premieres in 800 theaters nationwide for two nights only Oct. 13 and 14 at 7 p.m., local time. The documentary is distributed through Fathom Events.

“Violent anti-Semitism is rising across the country, and people of conscience cannot sit idly by,” said CUFI founder and Chairman Pastor John Hagee. “Anti-Semites have used the fertile ground of ignorance to grow their malicious ideology. If we are to stem the tide, we must inoculate the next generation against the world’s oldest hatred by empowering them with knowledge and reaching them with a message of unity. If we are to fulfill the promise of Never Again, we cannot allow the memory of the Holocaust to fade.”

The film from the 8-million member CUFI could not be more timely. Just this month, 200 survivors of the infamous Auschwitz Nazi extermination camp gathered for Holocaust Remembrance Day. At almost the same time, Pew Research showed 45 percent of Americans did not know 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.

“Viewers of the film will be guided by a Holocaust Survivor and a former radical Islamist,” said Producer Rick Eldridge, CEO of ReelWorks Studios. “They will learn about the history of anti-Semitism and come to understand why all of us, regardless of faith or political persuasion, have a responsibility to keep the promise of Never Again.”

NEVER AGAIN? will engage contemporary audiences with the horrific events of 75 years ago and demonstrate why they must be understood and remembered by the coming generation.

“This is not your parents’ documentary,” said CUFI co-executive director Shari Dollinger. “It meets the audience where they are, engaging them in a modern and cutting-edge manner. If we’re not to see history repeat itself, we must ensure the next generation learns the lessons of the past.”

About Christians United for Israel (CUFI)

As the largest pro-Israel grassroots organization in the United States, Christians United for Israel is also the only Christian organization devoted to transforming millions of pro-Israel Christians into an educated, empowered, and effective force for Israel. For more information, visit https://www.cufi.org

+++++

This is an official press release sourced from CUFI.org.

What’s The Best Darna Costume Design for Jane De Leon?

It has been several months since ABS-CBN formally announced it hired actress Jane de Leon as the new cinematic Darna for their ongoing movie project. Since that time, there has not been much details about the Darna movie. To put things in perspective here, De Leon came in as a replacement for Liza Soberano.

Darna2020
A Darna figure I photographed on the left, Jane de Leon on the right. (Jane de Leon picture from Belomed.com)

Apart from the news that De Leon met with TV Darna star Marian Rivera (who works for a rival TV network), took physical training consistently, confirmed filming will happen this year and responded to those who bashed her for just being a pretty face who cannot act, the filmmakers have so far kept details of the Darna movie secret.

Are they revising the script to accommodate De Leon’s talent? Are they rendering the visual effects with computers ahead of time? Is the production team having trouble scheduling filming with the many actors they hired? Are the filmmakers consulting with local comic book artists and writers to find ways to make the Darna movie fun and engaging?

So far, nothing could be confirmed. And this leads me to the next point – what will be the best Darna costume design for Jane de Leon?

In this ABS-CBN news video posted on November 27, 2019, De Leon confirmed that she has been working out for the role, read the script and stated the costume was being arranged. No details about the design of the costume were revealed.

For starters, it is easy to imagine De Leon wear the traditional Darna costume which has always been a two-piece swimsuit with a head dress (in recent times, a helmet), superhero boots, arm braces and a frontal cloth. Check out the photo I took of a Darna statuette during the 2019 Toycon below.

20190629_102618.jpg
I took this during last year’s Toycon.

If the filmmakers prefer to show the cinematic Darna with a new look of much less skin exposed while still maintaining the feminine figure, the lady’s armor design could be a useful alternative. Take a look at the armor of Faora in Man of Steel.

Faora
The armored Faora in Man of Steel. (photo sourced from IMDB.com)

An armored Darna just might work in modernizing the look of the Philippine superhero icon with the 21st century in mind. While it can cover a lot of De Leon’s skin, it could use a little less metallic parts (compared to Faora’s armor in Man of Steel) to show more of the actress’ figure. Having the armor painted red with some parts in gold can help maintain the Darna look.

As of this writing, we don’t know yet what the filmmakers have in mind with the Darna costume for Jane de Leon. But once new updates about the costume and the film itself have been released, I’ll share and discuss them right here.

For the meantime, visit the Darna (2020) movie page right here.

For those of you who read this, what do you think is the best Darna costume design for Jane de Leon? How should it look? Feel free to post your answers with the comment tool below.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com