Reflecting on what makes a Maniac

The Reel World

The horror genre has been, excuse the pun, butchered so much lately. As a self-confessed Horror nut I’ve been left feeling frustrated so many times over the past few years when directors have heavily relied on over-the-top gore for cheap thrills instead of crafting terror through twists you don’t see coming, characters loaded with depth and mystery, and chilling cinematography.

Maniac, is a remake of the 1980 slasher movie by William Lustig, starring Elijah Wood as a troubled and creepy mannequin store owner by day who gets his kicks by mutilating girls on the street by night. He kills and scalps girls before attaching their scalps to his own private collection of mannequins, which he then interacts with as if they were alive. So, on the surface it sounds like your average freaky, gore fest but at its core it’s so much more than that.

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Considering how much of a…

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Star Wars Episode VII gets a director…

Ever since it was announced that Disney bought the rights to George Lucas’ Star Wars saga, the question on everyone’s (maybe just us Star Wars lovers) minds has been, ‘Who the heck will be directing it?’

Well, look no further! Creator of TV smash hit Lost, and director of Star Trek Mr. J J Abrams has landed the coveted posish! Wowsers.

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George Lucas telling J J he better not balls it up, or he’ll send Jabba round to sort him out…

The new Star Wars is rumoured for release in 2015, with the script being penned by Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt. He’s a lifelong Star Wars lover who lectures about the script for the 1977 original as a model of great storytelling. Sounds promising then eh?

With the overwhelming success of Star Trek the movie, and the hotly anticipated sequel Into Darkness coming to cinemas later this year, J J Abrams seems to be the man of the moment. Let’s hope he can work his magic on the Wars.

As a lifelong Star Wars fanatic I was pretty nervous about the thought of a new movie being made by any one other than George but hearing about the quality and caliber of the team behind it has made me massively excited! Bring it on, and bring back Han Solo.

What do you think? Fan of J J’s work? Are you excited to see what they’ll come up with for Episode VII?

Film review: Django Unchained

Like most classic Westerns the goodies in Django Unchained are instantly likeable, fist-pumpingly heroic, and unrelenting in their quest for revenge, and the baddies are real filthy, dirty scum-bags that will leave you squirming in your seat.
Unlike most classic Westerns there is a symphony of mouth-watering dialogue and clever word play. Out with the ten-minute long horse chases across deserted grass land without so much as a word spoken that came to define the genre, and in with edge-of-your-seat conversations that flow as effortlessly as melting honey off a hot knife.

But before we go any further, let’s clear one thing up. Django Unchained ain’t like any Western — or any thing — you’ve ever seen before…

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At its core Django Unchained is a revenge thriller told using over-the-top, comic-book esque imagery. It follows freed slave Django as he and bounty hunter, and his partner-in-a-good-kind-of-crime, scheme to rescue his wife from notorious businessman, and all-round scum bag, Calvin Candie, from, um, Candie land.

The brutal, bloody violence is there in abundance — but this time it’s serious. If you’re dealing with an issue as abhorrent, and, let’s face it, disgusting as slavery there’s little point in sugar coating it. Tarantino ensures we are all reminded of just how truly horrific it is, but unlike some of his other films, there is no ‘gratuitous’ violence — it’s all real. Every gunshot, every whip scar, every vicious fistfight, and every blood-spill is a carefully thought out representation of the savagery of the times.
Having heard the horror stories of people rushing out of the cinema, and heaving into a paper bag upon witnessing the gore, I was fully expecting to be served up a dish of ferociousness  — and for the most part, it was ferocious but no worse than any other ‘Western’. In fact Tarantino, if anything, held back when it came to the really nasty moments by using cutaways and implications of violence.

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Tarantino recently spoke about the importance of casting, saying: ‘Casting is everything. As much as I love these actors, these people, I love my characters more.’ And it’s obvious, that he puts as much thought into picking the right actors to play the right parts, as he does when it comes to crafting unrivalled screenplays. 
Leonardo DiCaprio gave a powerhouse performance as Calvin Candie; Jamie Foxx sunk his teeth into the role of a lifetime as hero Django; Kerry Washington was simply perfect as Broomhilda, and Samuel L. Jackson was terrifying as ‘the most dispicable negro in cinematic history’ Steven. But, once again, it was Christoph Waltz who, um, Waltzed away with it in his Oscar-nominated role as Dr. Schultz. His timing, and delivery of sizzling dialogue is the stuff of dreams. QT himself said he would be hard pressed to ever find another actor who delivers his dialogue better than Waltz, and I can’t help but agree.
The chemistry between the cast was electrifying enough to light up the cinema.

The dialogue is hypnotically good — so well written that you will find yourself nodding along to its perfect rhythm, and fighting the urge to join in. It’s fluidity is frighteningly good, and trademark Tarantino.

Django Unchained, whether you love it or hate it, is sure to stay with you for weeks after seeing it. It’s powerful, emotive subject matter is creating a buzz online and in the streets — everyone’s talking about it. And that’s what it’s all about. Creating something that will last forever.
It’s in your face. It’s over the top. It’s exciting. It’s horrifying. It’s romantic. It’s brave, and it’s, understandably, controversial. But most of all it’s unmissable. 

Tarantino you always had my curiosity. And you’ll always have my attention. 

On Reservoir Dogs & why it’s The Most Incredible Film Of All Time

There is something so fantastically bizarre about Quentin Tarantino’s movies that when I first discovered them it felt like, what I can only imagine, a kid who has been forbidden from eating candy all their life accidentally chowing down a piece and unleashing a sweet explosion of taste inside their cute little head. It was unbelievable.

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Mr. Brown? That’s a little too close to Mr. Shit.

Although I refuse to do this in real life, if someone asked me to choose which one of his movies is my ultimate favourite — in blog life, I’d go with the dogs.

It was the second Tarantino movie I saw, a couple of hours after experiencing Pulp Fiction I was desperate to soak up as much of this new found goodness as possible. From the moment it started — that iconic diner scene, I was hooked. It’s in my blood.

It’s the simplicity of the story juxtaposed with the intensity of the characters — and the depth with which he creates them. His extraordinary, and rare, talent of being able to describe the entire psychology and personality of a character with one line — or one look — is out in full force in this film. The notorious opening scene is a classic example of that.
It’s the dialogue. It’s always the dialogue with QT, but Reservoir Dogs is a total goldmine when it comes to smart-ass one-liners. I reckon that 80% of his dialogue has nothing to do with the movie’s plot, or the characters in it but that’s why it’s real. That’s why it’s honest.
It’s the relationships he forms between the characters — and how intelligently, and tantalisingly, he develops them and weaves them into the film.
It’s the brutal, bloody violence alongside genuine humour. And the super-sounds-of-the-seventies soundtrack that contrasts so loudly with the film’s content.
And, of course, it’s Mr. Orange. The character that my twelve-year-old self thought was the coolest cat in town. And my twenty-year-old self thinks is the greatest character ever thunked up. It’s the ‘you’re fucking Baretta’ moment.

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Okay ramblers, let’s get ramblin’…

Tarantino knows how to write a weird and wonderful story that we can all sink our teeth into, that’s a given, but what’s so obvious is his unrivalled ability to create characters that stick. After watching Reservoir Dogs at the cinema, on it’s 21st anniversary, I spent a freezing cold hour outside discussing the psychology of his characterisation with a handful of strangers, and fellow Tarantino nuts. We all agreed that he is in a class of his own when it comes to inventing wholly unique characters in fucked up situations.

If you want gratuitous entertainment, he’s your guy. If you want one hundred minutes of adrenaline busting perfection, the dogs is your film.

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