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All posts for the month June, 2015

A “Throwback” to Bigfoot Down Under

Published June 24, 2015 by vfdpixie

throwback

Throwback (2013, 93 mins.)

Independent filmmakers put their passion, savings, blood, sweat and tears into a film; sometimes having to stop production due to lack of finances, actor schedules or good old Mother Nature.  The last two factors are what Australia’s Travis Bain endured to make his creature feature Throwback.  Named for the throwback horror films from the 40’s and 50’s and also the creature’s evolutionary standing, this film took 2 years to make due to a persistent rainy season and working around the talent’s day jobs.  The end result is an homage to old school monsters and Bain’s childhood horror movie favourites.

Kent (Anthony Ring) and Jack (Shawn Brack) are treasure hunters dreaming of hitting it big in an unexplored tropical forest as they search for the legendary bounty of outlaw Thunderclap Newman.  This expedition has its obstacles with betrayal, a diligent forest ranger named Rhiannon (Melanie Serafin), and a rogue ex-cop McNabb (Vernon Wells) who searches for a killer.  Oh yes, and the legendary Yowie (Warren Clements), Australia’s Bigfoot.  These characters collide as they all try to survive each other and escape the wrath of this mythical creature.

For the budget, the film was beautifully shot.  Interesting camera angles and Yowie point-of-view showcased the beautiful North Queensland jungle/forest setting.  Even though you know it’s a man in a suit, there was creative shooting of the creature himself, with blurry focus reminiscent of classic B-movie Bigfoot footage.

The character set-up in the first half slows the pace a bit but the second half kicks it up with man vs. man vs. Yowie action.  I actually got a bit invested with the characters, because I started to really dislike them and was hoping for the Yowie to come out on top.  There were some moments that will make you chuckle, especially with Mad Max 2‘s Wells as the gnarly but kooky, obsessed ex-cop and Ring’s portrayal of the weasely Kent, but I would have liked some more tongue-in-cheek dialogue and a definitive tone since it morphed between a straight crime caper and horror comedy.

All in all, Bain created a fun low-budget B-movie that shows his love for the horror genre and burgeoning skill as a director.  If you haven’t seen it yet, never fear because this award-winning festival favorite is due for a DVD release in North America on July 21st.

check out the Throwback trailer:

http://www.travisbain.com.au/throwback.htm

http://www.facebook.com/throwbackmovie

His next project, Starspawn, described as “a sci-fi/horror thriller inspired by the films of John Carpenter and the works of cult horror author H.P. Lovecraft” has a Kickstarter campaign well under way.  Starring Vernon Wells once again, the plot revolves around a T.V. journalist who discovers evidence of an alien invasion while interviewing some outback survivalists.  If you would like to contribute, check out this link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/starspawn/starspawn-an-hp-lovecraft-inspired-sci-fi-horror-f

http://www.facebook.com/starspawnmovie

Best of luck to Bain and his next feature!

Hamlet of Horror: A Look at Wayward Pines

Published June 5, 2015 by vfdpixie

waywardpines

Wayward Pines (T.V. series, 2015)

 

Being isolated in one location, be it a small town or a mysterious island, is a terrifying concept in horror and sci-fi since as humans, most of us have an insatiable lust for freedom.  Classic representations of this theme in The Stepford Wives, Twin Peaks, and Lost makes us uneasy as secrets, the supernatural and suppression take control, while (in my opinion) the excruciating Under the Dome puts us (or at least me) asleep with unseen threats and captors.  The latest contribution to this roster, Wayward Pines, is a weird take on the isolated, sleepy town that is not what it seems.

Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) is a secret service agent searching for two of his colleagues.  On his way to their last destination of Wayward Pines, Idaho, he is involved in a car crash, and disoriented, staggers into the small idyllic town hidden in the mountains.  He ends up in a deserted hospital under the care of Nurse Pam (Melissa Leo) and soon discharges himself when he realizes he has no wallet, no phone and no contact with the outside world, frantically searching for answers and trying to keep his grip on reality.

Wayward Pines’ tightly wound Sheriff Pope (Terrence Howard) and the townspeople are a strange bunch, and not forthcoming with any information due to the town’s restrictive code of conduct, save for a bartender named Beverly (Juliette Lewis) who becomes Ethan’s guide in this surreal hamlet.  He soon learns he cannot leave, and the agents he is looking for come to different, and sinister, fates.  Ethan’s wife Theresa (Shannyn Sossamon) clings to the hope that his disappearance can be explained, and her determination to find him matches his to leave the locked-down town.  What makes this story all the more interesting is Ethan’s previous breakdown from a case gone wrong.  He felt he could have prevented the disastrous outcome and his hallucinatory symptoms from the past makes the viewer wonder whether his experience in the town is real.  There is also a strange difference in timelines that has him, and some inhabitants, confused.

Wayward Pines is based on a trilogy of books by Blake Crouch, who was so influenced by Twin Peaks in the 90’s that he basically wrote an homage to the series.  Produced by M. Night Shyamalan, who also directed the pilot, this series is bubbling with secrets and nuances.  I have to say I was a little concerned when I heard Shyamalan was involved, as I had visions of The Village and the train wreck that movie was; but having read the first part of this trilogy, the writing for the show is smart and illustrates the suspense and atmosphere of dread that is so prevalent in the book.  Along with Crouch, series creator Chad Hodge also streamlines the action in the novel, which was at times overly descriptive, to create intrigue that slowly reveals what will hopefully be a first class ticket to bizarro-land (in a good way).

Oscar and Emmy nominees grace the cast with the likes of Terrence Howard and the acclaimed Toby Jones as Dr. Jenkins; and I love Matt Dillon who is one of the most underrated actors around, as well as the always fabulous Juliette Lewis and Oscar winner Melissa Leo as the nasty, ball-breaking nurse Pam.  It is great to see mainly big-screen actors take the leap to television, which may draw a larger audience.

While not for everyone, I really hope this show goes the distance.  It took me a few episodes to warm up to Wayward Pines, but after reading the first book for a better understanding of the story and this past 4th episode of a 10-part season that may or may not be a one-off, things are starting to get really interesting.  It is similar to Twin Peaks, and perhaps to some degree Lost, but it also stands alone with a uniquely weird twist that, if the show stay true to the books and doesn’t go off the rails, will blow some minds out there.

 

Wayward Pines airs Thursday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET on Citytv in Canada and Fox in the U.S.

*Looking for the books?  I searched high and low, visiting several book stores in my hometown with no luck unless I wanted to place a specific order, but your best bet is to download the free Kindle app and get a digital copy from Amazon here.  Please note that the first book is entitled “Pines” and it is a decently written, easy read.

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