Check out this creepy teaser trailer:
The premiere episode for American Horror Story: Asylum aired last night, and I had the opportunity to write a short article on it for Fans Pages. Here's the link.
Check out this creepy teaser trailer:
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I wasn’t sure what to think when I first learned the final season of Fringe was to be set in the year 2036, with a new supporting cast and the Observers serving as the main antagonists, but after having watched the first episode, I’m excited to see where this new story arc will lead. The episode begins with an interesting teaser comprised of both nightmare and flashback that sets the tone for the rest of the hour. The opening credits, altered to match the new setting, are both timely and provocative, set in grayscale to match a colorless and bleak future. The key words represent themes of oppression versus liberty, and images of a wall of people behind a wall topped with barbed wire encasing the word “Freedom” offer a dystopian glimpse of what is to come.
The use of imagery throughout the episode creates a comparison between the Observers and the atrocities of Nazi Germany. The costumes, the tattooed humans, and military vehicles at every turn create an unmistakable effect. Moreover, the hairless Observers take on a Neo-Nazi appearance that meshes past with present, to create a future of what might be, should complacency allow the wrong people to take control. The Observer’s statement, “Resistance is futile,” represents an oppression over a broken and helpless people. Just as interesting is the black market in which “Amber Gypsies” sell frozen people as commodities, turning human beings into items both disposable and priceless.
On a character level, the back story presented between Olivia and Peter is both subtle and well done, and Olivia’s reunion with daughter Etta is heartfelt. It creates a beautiful contrast to the high level of action and fast pace seen through the majority of the rest of the episode. Walter’s role, however, proves to be the most profound, the strength of character he exhibits while interrogated by the Observer playing as a stark contrast to the crazy, erratic person he has proven himself to be in the previous seasons. Most poignant is his imagining of music while confronted with questions of which the answers mean the difference between freedom and enslavement of the human race. When asked why he chooses music to fill his thoughts, he explains the importance it has in perspective and clarity of mind. Music represents hope.
As the Observer attempts to break Walter, who suffers massive trauma in his endeavors to keep his thoughts secret, the Observer alludes to a dead Earth no longer of any use to modern humans. He explains that nothing can grow from “scorched earth,” entreating Walter to abandon all hope and give up the information asked of him. Still, Walter holds his silence, bleeding from the nose and eyes, sobbing for the future of humanity.
The final scene, which moves full circle from the teaser intro in which Etta blows dandelion seeds into the wind, shows a disoriented and broken Walter stumbling across a music CD amongst rubble. As he sits in an abandoned taxi and delights in the realization that the music still plays, he spots a single dandelion growing in the scorched earth. The scene fades out over a city in shambles—but in which hope is clearly not yet lost.
I first discovered AMC’s BREAKING BAD when the show was already around halfway through its second season. I happened upon the episode by chance, but I knew immediately when I saw it that AMC had something exceptional. The premise seems mundane enough: After finding that he has stage three lung cancer, a high school chemistry teacher begins cooking methamphetamines with the hope of leaving behind a nest-egg for his growing family. What is far from mundane is everything else about the show: the writing; the directing; the acting. Combined, BREAKING BAD is arguably the most brilliant television show I’ve seen.
AMC recently began showing the series from the beginning in anticipation of its upcoming season. While I have enjoyed viewing the episodes I missed and look forward to revisiting the ones I’ve already seen, watching tonight’s episode “Crazy Handful of Nothin’” was impossible to watch without feeling inspired to write about just how brilliant this show is.
At this point in the series, chemist/teacher/cancer victim Walter White has just begun chemotherapy and is lying to his family about where he’s getting the money to pay for his $1,500.00-a-pop treatments (his HMO won't cover them). He wants to do the right thing by his family, but this has already begun to leave a wake of destruction in all other facets of his life. This duality within his character is further demonstrated by his choice in pseudonym: Heisenberg.
Werner Heisenberg was a physicist who came up with the Uncertainty Principle, which basically states that one cannot accurately measure the position of a particle while also predicting that same particle’s path. This principle illustrates Walt’s character in profound ways. Like a particle identified in space, where his character is going—the certainty of his future and the direction his life is heading—is impossible to gauge. The Uncertainty Principle also covers the ambiguity of enigmas like light, which behave both like waves and particles. Walter is as if two men concurrently; he is the particle and the wave, the good family man and the ever-corrupting methamphetamine cook.
This duality is skillfully demonstrated in a scene in which his hair begins to fall out from the chemotherapy. He stands in front of the mirror, looking at the image staring back at him as he takes the shaver from the bathroom counter, contemplating. The camera cuts to a shot of a crystal jar on the counter with a clear sphere as its handle. For that quick moment, we see Walt’s reflection in that as well, upside-down because of the curve of the sphere. Because of that moment, we understand that Walt’s life has been turned upside-down. He leaves the bathroom bald and transformed.
What makes BREAKING BAD so exceptional is that every episode I’ve seen contains a similar level of layers, symbolism, and profound connections. It is like fine literature on a television screen, far from what one would expect from a storyline about a man who decides to become a methamphetamine cook … and that is most likely precisely the dichotomy AMC was looking to create.
Go to http://www.amctv.com/shows/breaking-bad for more information on this mind-blowing series.
A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with my friends and peers at Un:Bound, when we got on the subject of vampire television shows and movies. The chat proved to be quite inspirational. Fellow author C. M. Kempe beat me to the punch in blogging about some personal favorites, but after sitting on this for several days, I’ve decided I’m going to go ahead and post this.
Following is my list, in chronological order, of five vampire films and TV shows that are must-sees. If you are a fan of vampire fiction, then you might be familiar with everything on my list. If not, but you still enjoy a good horror, check out these five greats:
Near Dark (1987)
A man gets pulled into a group of vampires—and their very dark world—after getting bitten. He struggles to survive, the moral dilemma of “kill or be killed” weighing heavily on him. He falls for the woman who turned him, learning that she is as much a hapless victim as he, while he works against the clock to reclaim his humanity.
Near Dark is a rare gem, with good dialogue, great acting, and an ending that will leave you with goose bumps. The special effects are great for 1987, and the vampires’ mythos and lifestyle are both well conceived. The story gives a terrifying look at the vampire’s point of view, without romanticizing or glorifying it. These vampires are hard, gritty, and as evil as they come. They can’t fly or control minds, but they are nonetheless scary.
Near Dark won’t leave you with nightmares, but it will haunt you.
Forever Knight (1992-1996)
An 800-year-old vampire attempts to right the wrongs of his life by swearing off murder and becoming a police detective. He becomes close friends with the medical examiner, who learns his secret and researches a way to make him human again.
Forever Knight is one of those rare guilty pleasures that I looked forward to every week. The special effects are on par with other early ‘90s television shows: minimalistic, but effective. The character dynamics are fun, the story is provocative, and the progression of the series is well crafted. The lead character’s struggle to interact with and “be” human is fascinating. I still can see in my mind’s eye the recurring scene in which he watches the sunrise through live camera feeds while drinking blood from a wine bottle. Brilliant!
Kindred: The Embraced (1996)
A Police detective stumbles upon a vampire underground while investigating mob activities, finding the five secret clans on the brink of war. He and the leader of the clans, who slowly falls for a human reporter, work together to keep order and prevent the truth about the “Kindred” hidden from the mainstream. The series is based on the role-playing game, Vampire: The Masquerade.
It is unfortunate that Kindred: The Embraced only lasted for one season, as it had amazing potential. The characters were well developed, the acting very good, and the storyline intriguing. Tragically, the lead actor died in a motorcycle accident before another season could be shot.
Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
This has got to be one of the most novel vampire movie concepts I’ve ever seen: A vampire plays a human playing a vampire in the silent film, Nosferatu. The director finds it makes for a realistic horror film—but he also loses most of his cast and crew during the filming.
Shadow of the Vampire is artfully dark and delightfully smart. The acting is phenomenal across the board, the character progression flawless (particularly the director’s descent into madness as he sees the repercussions of bringing a real vampire onboard accrue), and one of the best endings I’ve seen. This movie is highly disturbing and equally provocative.
Let the Right One In (2008)
A little boy befriends a little girl, who turns out to be a vampire temporarily living next door with her adult caretaker. As the town becomes plagued with murders, the boy slowly learns his friend’s secret.
Let the Right One In has so many amazing qualities, it’s hard to know where to begin in describing it. The dynamics created between the perceived childhood innocence in both lead characters and the bloodthirsty monster the little girl truly is makes this story both creepy and genius. The friendship that develops between the two lead characters is deep and touching, but the moral dilemmas posed through the story’s progression are equally poignant—while also, at the same time, being absolutely horrifying. Let the Right One In may be the last on this list, but it is probably one of the greatest vampire films ever made.
What do you think? Is there a movie you think should be on this list and/or removed? Do you think any of the more popular vampire movies are better? If so, why?
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