Sci-Fi Horror

We want to hear your thoughts!

MOVIE REVIEW: The Predator (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Predator (2018)

The Predator: Hit or Miss

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.When I first heard that The Predator was coming back to the big screen I thought, ‘Well how are you going to top Predators?’ For my money, Predators is the best sequel to date and has the most legendary opening sequence in a movie ever. The news of Shane Black and Fred Dekker being on board, however, convinced me this was going to be top notch fun, gory, and worth the sequel.

I eagerly attended the first showing on Sunday, 16 September, only to find I was proven wrong – which is a major let down. Black and Dekker (haha) know their stuff and should’ve put together a great movie. With comedy, horror, and even family elements, The Predator struggles to find its focus. On the surface, The Predator is about a young boy who receives a gift of Predator items (WHY?) that eventually turn on a beacon which puts the Predator on a wanted list for being hunted {Or for hunting other creatures?}. The alert causes a problem for Earth since Predators aren’t friendly with anyone. A group of ragtag soldiers who suffer from PTSD ultimately are enlisted to do what’s right, help the kid, and…save the world?

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.As the film starts, there are actually some great action sequences, nice gore, and even a bit of a character development where you find yourself invested in the main character, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook, whom you’ll remember as Pierce, the villain, in Logan (2017)). After the spacecraft and presence of the aliens (Predators not Xenomorphs) are revealed, the government steps in and the movie takes a hard turn into Superficialville. Character development and, indeed, care of any characters steps out.

‘But,’ you may think to yourself, ‘This an action horror sci-fi movie. Does character development matter? We’re here for the blood and guts?’

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Well, kind of, yes. What I mean is this: When you attend a movie, you invest your time. In return, you expect to be entertained. You expect to see characters to whom you can relate or for whom you actually feel – especially when they die.

Hell, it took me a good while to realize that Thomas Jane was in the movie – not because of great method acting, but I just didn’t realize it was him. With an actor like Thomas Jane, you would expect that he would be front and center. At the very least, he should be cast in a better or more significant role. However, with this movie, you don’t get that. The deaths feel rushed, and the camera doesn’t exactly linger on the gore. It was almost blink-and-you-miss-it shots of the kills. Perhaps this was to avoid delays from the MPAA or maybe another unknown reason. We may never know.

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.Overall, The Predator doesn’t really hold up to the previous films in the franchise – gore- or action-wise. Sure, there are a few nods to the previous films but not enough to keep you entertained. From the sci-fi/horror aspect, it could have worked as any other alien movie, but as an entry in the Predator franchise, it doesn’t. Peppered with forced jokes as an attempt to engage the audience, it falls flat because they didn’t really fit the movie. At times, the movie felt overlong and drawn out – not good for film with a scant runtime of 107 minutes. My excitement swelled as the ending approached. Would there be a possible connection to the previous films? Or even something better?

I won’t spoil the movie, but it was almost a slap in the face to the fans of the franchise to see this. HINT: Think uber Jason from Jason X but with no delivery of any kind. It was just a big let down.

My advice: Wait until The Predator comes on Netflix or hits Redbox. It just barely made number one this weekend, so perhaps a sequel or another reboot will help the franchise.

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.


Posted by Jai Alexis in HORROR NEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, PREQUELS AND SEQUELS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
WiHM Interview: The Inimitable Barbie Wilde

WiHM Interview: The Inimitable Barbie Wilde

Woofer here, Souls, and it’s my great pleasure to introduce this interview. When discussing Women in Horror Month with my assistant editor Spencer, we decided that as fans of Hellraiser – both as the Books of Blood and the film franchise – we would be completely remiss if we didn’t reach out to Barbie Wilde. Being both talented and gracious, she consented to be interviewed and is our final focus for Women in Horror Month.

Barbie Wilde - Female Cenobite Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

Well, that’s enough of my yammering. You’re all here to find out more about the lovely, talented, and kind Barbie Wilde, so keep on reading.
House of Tortured Souls: Did you ever think you would become a horror icon?
Barbie Wilde: I never did… And it’s a bit ironic that I nearly didn’t go to the audition for Hellbound Hellraiser II, because I found the first Hellraiser film so disturbing. (Although I did love the character of Julia. I’m a sucker for obsession! And the Cenobites were such original and unusual monsters.)
However, I’ve very glad that I did go, obviously. Being in Hellbound was a great experience and, speaking as a short blonde person, I’m truly thrilled that I’ve managed to scare so many people over the years.
HoTS: What is your favorite memory from working on Hellraiser II?
BW: Meeting Ken (Dr. Channard) Cranham for the first time. I walked up to him in full Female Cenobite makeup and costume, when he was in full Channard Cenobite makeup and costume — and on the phone to his wife as well! For some reason known only to the infernal powers below, I said: “Hi Ken, I’m Barbie. Do you want to get married and have babies called Pepper and Skipper?”
Why I thought that this was an appropriate way to introduce myself for the first time to such a venerable actor as Ken, I don’t know. Especially since he was English and had no idea that there were these famous American dolls called Barbie, Ken, Pepper and Skipper. (In Britain, the Barbie Doll equivalent is called Cindy.) In my defense, I do say this line to every “Ken” I meet, because for some strange reason, I think it’s hilarious.
Anyway, Ken was gobsmacked and whispered to his wife, “Darling, an actress is talking to me… I’ve got to go.” I apologized profusely and we’ve been good friends ever since.

The Lovely Barbie Wilde

HoTS: What was it like working with Tik and Tok?
BW: The years with Shock in the early 80s were fantastic. It was the most fun that I’ve ever had as a performer. Working with Tik and Tok was wonderful, as well as performing with Robert Pereno, LA Richards, and Carole Caplin. The high point for us was supporting Gary Numan at Wembley Arena, but we also toured with Depeche Mode and supported Ultravox as well.
HoTS: Who are some of your greatest influences?
BW: As a writer: Rod Serling, Patricia Highsmith, Clive Barker, Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, Colin Wilson.
Directors I admire are: Guillermo Del Toro, Hitchcock, Ridley Scott, the Soska Sisters, Ann Biller, Katherine Bigalow, Mary Harron, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Patty Jenkins.

Barbie Wilde's Blue Eyes - A Film By Chris Alexander

HoTS: How do you prepare for a role? Is it different for each?
BW: I approach each role in a new way. I don’t use any particular “method”. I’m very intuitive and I take a lot from the text…
HoTS: Why horror? What drew you to it?
BW: To be honest, I didn’t choose horror, horror chose me! I had moved from acting into presenting, writing and hosting TV shows when I was cast in Hellbound. It was my first horror movie. (Although I suppose being in Grizzly II: The Concert (1983) was my first appearance in a horror movie, but it was never released.)
It’s interesting, because until Paul Kane asked me to write a story for the Hellbound Hearts anthology, I was more interested in exploring the criminal mind in writing novel like my diary-of-a-serial-killer novel, The Venus Complex (published by Comet Press), than writing horror. But I had so much fun writing my Female Cenobite origin story (“Sister Cilice”) for Hellbound Hearts, that I continued writing horror, contributing short stories to various horror anthologies over the years, culminating in my illustrated, full color, short horror story collection, Voices of the Damned (published by SST Publications).

The Venus Complex (2012) by Barbie Wilde

Saying that though, I’ve always watched horror movies, ever since I was a kid, especially Sci-fi horror. Those films really shaped my twisted imagination! And TV shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits also made a big impression on me.
HoTS: What are your favorite horror films?
BW: I love the old black and white horrors like: The Thing From Another World (1951), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Innocents (1961), The Haunting (1963) and Night of the Demon AKA Curse of the Demon (1957). I also like visceral horror such as Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and Alien (1979). Other favorites are: American Mary (2012), Sinister (2012), Audition (1999), The Lure (2015), Cronos (1993), Mimic (1997), Crimson Peak (2015), etc. (I’m really looking forward to seeing The Shape of Water and the Soska Sisters’ reimagining of Cronenberg’s Rabid.)
HoTS: What drew you to writing? Do you prefer it to acting?
BW: I’ll always love acting, but now I prefer creating my own worlds, my own characters and my own mythologies.
HoTS: When did you realize that you wanted to dive into the arts?
BW: I was a very shy kid, but when I was cast in a school play when I was 12, I was hooked forever. People were laughing with me, rather than at me. I loved it.

Voices of the Damned (2016) by Barbie Wilde

HoTS: What is something outside of art that you’re passionate about?
BW: Wine… Margaritas… Martinis… you see a pattern here? Actually, those are just hobbies! Seriously, I’m fascinated by archeology (it was my Minor at University) and I love what’s happening in the world of science with all the innovations that are happening, medical discoveries, etc. And I’m a tech geek. I never would have guessed that I’d love gadgets so much. I suppose it’s the Star Trek fan in me!

Barbie’s books and other works:

Out now:

Voices of the Damned, an illustrated short horror story collection published by SST Publications. (Publishers Weekly: “…sensual in its brutality.” “…a delight for the darker senses.”) Each story is illustrated in full color by top artists in the horror genre, such as Clive Barker, Nick Percival, Daniele Serra, Vincent Sammy, Tara Bush, Steve McGinnis, Ben Bradford and Eric Gross.

Barbie Wilde - Female Cenobite with knife in Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

The Venus Complex, Barbie’s debut dark crime, diary-of-a-serial-killer novel, published by Comet Press. (Fangoria: “Wilde is one of the finest purveyors of erotically charged horror fiction around.”)

In pre-production:

A feature length horror film called Blue Eyes, based on a short story by Barbie. It’s co-written with Chris Alexander (Blood for Irina, Queen of Blood, Female Werewolf, Blood Dynasty, Space Vampire) and will be directed by Chris. Starring Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy.

Work-in-progress:

Film Script: “Zulu Zombies”.
New real life horror novel, working title: The Anatomy of Ghosts.

Plans for the future:

To find a publisher for graphic novels based on Barbie’s short stories “Sister Cilice” and “Zulu Zombies”.

The Offer (2017) - Barbie Wilde

In 2017, Barbie returned to acting after 17 years in The Offer, the first episode of the horror series, Dark Ditties, produced by Cult Film Screenings.

Barbie Wilde Social Media:

Barbie Wilde - Classic Beauty

Posted by Alan Smithee in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) [SPOILERS]

MOVIE REVIEW: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) [SPOILERS]

Cloverfield Space Station in The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)Director: Justin Onah; Writers: Oren Uziel, Doug Jung (Story by); Stars: Gugu Mbatha Raw, Chris O’Dowd, David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, Ziyi Zhang, Roger Davies, Elizabeth Debicki; Rating: TV-MA; Run Time: 102 min; Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2018

Netflix blew all our nerd minds when they announced The Cloverfield Paradox would drop right after the Super Bowl. Everybody was excited to see where the series would go and if, indeed, it would be a more direct sequel than the brilliant but not very connected 10 Cloverfield Lane. The Cloverfield Paradox is set in the near future where energy is scarce and a ragtag group of astronauts tries desperately to resolve the problem but, of course, only makes things worse. What audiences get is a mixed bag. On the one crawling hand, you have an enjoyable eye candy sci-fi flick but it really doesn’t do justice in terms of the Cloverfield franchise (such as it is).

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) conspiracy theoristAt times, The Cloverfield Paradox is awkward and falls back on contrived space clichés, and the exposition is a bit clunky. The plot literally is summed up by a character at the beginning of the film. It can get a bit heavy-handed and uses the paradox/multiverse to “explain” away some pretty big leaps of logic even for a sci-fi film. What saved the film was that it fully embraced its own plot for better or worse and also injected some much-needed levity to keep things from getting too depressing. Chris O’Dowd seems to exist solely for comedic moments which is just fine by me. The somewhat disjointed plot is also anchored by some great performances.

Aksel Hennie as Voilkov in The Cloverfield ParadoxAs a middle-of-the-road fun sci-fi film, its good. You know the kind – it’s enjoyable to watch on a lazy Sunday while you’re still hung over. And forgive me if I might sound like a screaming fanboy, but as a Cloverfield movie, it just doesn’t cut it. Rumor has it the film was not meant to be a part of the franchise but was rather repacked with the infamous monster added in after the fact. After watching it, that seems plausible. My problem – and I think what other fans took issue with this – is that the Cloverfield element felt tacked on rather than an integral part of the film that would give the audience a true sequel to the modern classic monster film. At the end of the day, The Cloverfield Paradox is a flawed but very watchable movie despite its writing problems, but as a third entry in the canon, it sadly doesn’t live up to what audiences wanted or expected.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ava Hamilton in The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, URBAN DECAY/DYSTOPIAN FUTURES, 0 comments
WiHM: Ellen Ripley

WiHM: Ellen Ripley

Ripley Alien: Paradise Lost

What will we learn about Ripley in Alien: Paradise Lost?

When asked to do a piece for women in horror month there was no hesitation on who I would choose first. I chose Sigourney Weaver’s timeless character Ellen Ripley, a woman I’ve admired and tried to emulate my entire life.

The role of Ellen Ripley was perfectly cast using Sigourney Weaver, and I can’t imagine anyone else as Ripley. Sigourney has the perfect physical demeanor for the role, tall, lean, handsome, not traditionally beautiful but beautiful nonetheless. The reason I bring up her looks is not to objectify her but to point out the care taken so that her appearance wouldn’t be objectified. Her actions, intelligence, and leadership make her attractive.

Sigourney Weaver of Alien 5

Will Sigourney Weaver return for Alien 5?

Sigourney Weaver was highly praised for her role and even nominated for an Academy Award, which is no small feat because the academy doesn’t give much recognition to horror and sci-fi films, and it continues to be that way even today.

Let’s focus a bit on who the character of Ellen Ripley is and why she’s an important female character in horror (possibly the most important) and an important role model to women in general.

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen RipleyEllen Ripley encompasses a lot of roles, many of them not traditional roles for females especially considering the time these movies were made. She’s an important crew member (warrant officer) aboard a spaceship – The Nostromo and later works her way up to Lieutenant (first class). She’s viewed as an equal and integral member of the ship’s team. Even when she argues and is rude she is never shut down for being a woman she’s shut down for being an ass. We see her in the role of mother when she meets and cares for Newt and when we learn of the loss of her own daughter Amanda. We see her as a caring animal lover to her cat Jonsey. We see her in the role of lover but not as arm candy as an equal half of a partnership. We see her as a leader, both as physically and intellectually competent as her male counterparts. Ripley makes the tough calls but is willing to take risks and sacrifice her own personal safety when protecting those she cares about, while still managing to look badass doing it.

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen RipleyRipley will always be my favorite woman in horror and my personal hero. It is my hope that one day when women are viewed equally in the horror community, she will be recognized as the mold that all other strong female characters were cast from.

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley

Posted by Candace Stone in SCI-FI HORROR, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: ParAssassin (2017)

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: ParAssassin (2017)

I recently had the great pleasure of reading ParAssassin, a graphic novel by Jasper Bark, and was sucked in immediately. As the name suggests, an assassination is at the center of the plot, but I’ll let the Amazon summary explain it:

Three futures hang in the balance. Two end in total annihilation. One assassin’s bullet will decide. On the planet Sedulon, a rogue band of renegade time travelers and scientific misfits fight to save the futures of two worlds. Doc Hydrabus – a brilliant scientist whose body splits into a crowd of his past and selves, he lives in one present and many futures all at the same time. Cassindra – 900 years old, impossible to kill and every bit as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s travelled back in time to change the world. Rushaar and Shartara – alien beings made entirely of gas with one simple plan, to use time travel to assassinate the leader of Sedulon and save their planet Eidolonia. The Parassassin – he will take the shot that decides the destinies of everyone in the galaxy. Politics and parody collide on the bleeding edge of science fiction, in the most shocking and unexpected thriller you’re going to read this year.

It’s quite an intriguing story with interesting characters whose actions will decide the fate of more worlds than just ours. The story opens with the main character, Doc Hydrabus, a victim of his own brilliance, trying to recall who or what he is and how he got to where he is – adrift in time and space. From there we follow as he pieces the story together to discover what happened and how. As Doc Hydrabus encounters others in his memories, more and more details are revealed and each is more fantastic than the last, piquing the reader’s curiosity and compelling one to read on.

ParAssassin (2017)

The artwork is crisp and clear with great detail and excellent color choices. I especially appreciated the realism in female body proportions and postures – something often lacking in comics and graphic novels and quite a breath of fresh air. Similarly, the female roles are solid, with none present simply to serve as eye candy or sexual conquests. They are as fully developed as the male characters and play key roles in how the story unfolds. The handling of time paradoxes and potential futures is handled well, giving the reader just enough information to understand without overwhelming minutiae that serve merely to slow the story. Instead, the story is tight and solid with a few twists you will not see coming.

ParAssassin (2017)

If you enjoy graphic novels and time travel, I highly recommend ParAssassin.

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Spontaneous Combustion (1990)

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Spontaneous Combustion (1990)

Spontaneous Combustion

By Woofer McWooferson

Director: Tobe Hooper; Writers: Tobe Hooper (story and screenplay), Howard Goldberg, Stars: Brad Dourif, Cynthia Bain, Jon Cypher; Rating: R; Run Time: 97 min; Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1990

Spontaneous Combustion movie poster.

Spontaneous Combustion movie poster.

Best known for 1974's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, writer/director Tobe Hooper decided to take a stab at the telekinetic phenomenon of pyrokinesis in 1990 with Spontaneous Combustion. The script was written in three weeks, or so says IMDb, but it plays like it only took three hours. Indeed, there is little to recommend this movie beyond Brad Dourif's performance for it has been done before and done better. Six years prior, Stephen King's Firestarter, hit the big screen with names such as Martin Sheen, Louise Fletcher, and George C. Scott attached, and Hooper's inevitably fell short of the admittedly mediocre King adaptation.

The spontaneous combustion begins.

The spontaneous combustion begins.

As with King's story, two young people allow themselves to be guinea pigs, resulting in a child born with pyrokinetic powers. In Spontaneous Combustion, they agree to be treated for radiation resistance and then are purposefully exposed to an atomic blast. Though they survive long enough for their child to be born, they are incinerated via spontaneous human combustion shortly after greeting their son. The movie then fast forwards twenty years to reveal their son Sam (Brad Dourif) has been raised by the man responsible for their deaths. Seemingly from nowhere he begins to exhibit the pyrokinesis that begins to burn him from inside. Eventually he finds out the truth about his family and exacts the revenge we all know is coming.

Brad Dourif Exacts Revenge in Spontaneous Combustion

Brad Dourif exacts revenge in Spontaneous Combustion.

Dourif pours everything into the role, but even his intensity is not enough to elevate this movie to repeated viewings. Fraught with bad dialogue, a predictable storyline, an unnecessary love triangle, and horrifically dated 80s fashion, Spontaneous Combustion leaves much to be desired. Although Tobe Hooper has been directing since the 1960s, his most acclaimed film, as noted earlier, remains the 1974 watershed of horror The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Because of this groundbreaking film, Hooper's films tend to be more harshly judged than might be fair to the director. Still, I don't think it's too much to say that Tobe Hooper's Spontaneous Combustion probably should have spontaneously combusted before distribution.

5/10 claws – For hardcore fans of Hooper and Dourif only.

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 1 comment