4 Scary Scenes from the Jurassic Park World

Happy October, everyone! For many, this month means changing leaves and cooler temperatures, but for us at RevPub, October means horror season. And this year’s theme is whatever inspires us, so sit back and get ready for the surprise!

To kick off the season, I’m going to discuss a few scenes from two of my favorite Sci-Fi thrillers, Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. These movies aren’t technically horror movies, but both have the right elements and several scenes that effectively scare audiences. If you’re heart doesn’t race during these, you may want to check your pulse. (Contains spoilers)

Jurassic Park Scary Scenes

I was around 11 or so when Jurassic Park premiered, and I’m pretty sure I saw it on the big-screen. I still remember the trailers, and any time I think of the movie, I think T-Rex. However, for me the scariest scenes both involve a game of cat and mouse.

Kitchen scene: Most recall the Jeep scene where T-Rex attacks the children. The water shaking in the car, the eye in the window. But the scene that scares me the most is the kitchen scene with the raptors. Watching that scene 20 years later still makes my heart race. When the raptors first enter the kitchen, you know they’re saying, “Ready or not. Here we come!”

But this is way more intense than a game of hide-and-seek. These raptors will find and eat you. That’s what scares me the most over the famous T-Rex scene. Instead of being protected by a car (sort-of), the kids are in the open with lots of things that make noise. When you’re being hunted, the last thing you want to do is make noise. Then if you’re caught, your death is going to be way more painful than a one-chomp fatality from T-Rex. Those raptors will shred you and have fun while doing it.

Nice boy: Although I’m pretty happy when Dennis (Wayne Knight) meets his demise, the scene itself is pretty intense. It’s raining, the Jeep is stuck, and he loses his glasses, which he’s probably close to blind without them. When you’re trying to escape, being able to see is No. 1 priority.

But what makes this scene scary is the dinosaur itself. First, it looks like a gremlin on steroids, and it makes sounds that remind me of Predator. If you’ve seen both of those movies, you know this won’t end well. Then, this “cute” little guy goes on the hunt, shows his true colors and shoots poisonous muck on his victim. Now that Dennis is blind, he’s free to be attacked and eaten inside the Jeep. What a way to go!

Jurassic World Scary Scenes

I didn’t see Jurassic World until this year, but it didn’t make me enjoy the movie any less. The film is fun, suspenseful and honors Jurassic Park in so many ways. And just like the first, there are a couple of very scary scenes.

The jungle: Although Jurassic Park does a jungle-hunt scene very well, Jurassic World makes it even better. Imagine you’re in the jungle trying to hunt something that can camouflage itself and your beloved raptors have turned against you. You know as soon as the raptors decide to hunt, it’s game on. Everyone will be picked off one at a time.

This scene ranks as one of my favorite modern horror scenes because you see the team’s point of view. Through individual cameras, you get an up-close look at the raptors and hear the screams, making you feel as if you’re the one being attacked. With each kill, a camera dies and it cuts to the next and so on. Add to that, it’s complete chaos and war.

Red flare: Even though this scene made me squeal with happiness, when Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) grabs the flare and releases T-Rex, my heart pounds through my chest. T-Rex is just as loud, mean and threatening, and he’s really ticked off.

The scare factor here is really the homage it pays to the original. The moment you see the flare and the door opens, you know exactly what’s coming out and what that means for the characters. You know it’s a get-safe-or-get-eaten situation, with not only one but two predator giants. You feel the intensity as Claire runs for her life, in high heels no less, and one small mistake could cost a life. The scene effectively shows that one movie can cause a fear factor based on paying homage to another. Pure genius.

If you haven’t seen either of these movies or only one, I highly recommend watching them. Just make sure you’re prepared for the suspense, a little blood and a whole lot of dinosaur fun!

Dark Skies Gives Hope to New Horror

Sometimes you just get lucky. I’ve seen Dark Skies pop up on my TV for weeks, so last night I said, ‘what the heck, I’ll buy it.’ And I’m glad I did.

Overall, Dark Skies was an impressive new horror movie. It gave me hope that some people know how to make a good horror movie, and other directors and producers should pay attention. It was well shot and planned, and it has major rewatch value.

Let’s dig in. Here are a few of highlights from the movie: Contains spoilers!

Dark Skies Alien
Photo: http://www.cinemum.net

The Plot Is Refreshing

I cannot express how satisfying it is to include the plot in this review. Dark Skies tells the story of a family who becomes ‘haunted’ – not the house, the family. Think The Conjuring but with the whole family. However, ghosts do not haunt them; aliens do. I know it sounds odd at first, but embrace it. They are creepier than you think. Also, the movie plays a constant mind game with the audience, but it’s done so well you don’t realize it until the very end.

Note to Hollywood: The plot different but not stupid. It moves quickly, but there are few if any plot holes. It’s not a remake (thank goodness!). If a plot has been done 20 times in the last five years, don’t make the movie.

A Real Family

Every family has issues, money problems, stress, etc. sometimes. The Barrets have normal problems like unemployment and money issues, but I was thrilled that neither parent was an alcoholic. I think Hollywood throws alcohol into the mix to create a crazy scene or break a character down, but sometimes it’s not necessary. The villain should do the job and break down the characters.

The parents (Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton) have stress that affects their relationship, but they also work on the issues. They try to care for and love their kids. The brothers are close – adorable even – but they still have their own friends and interests. The Barrets feel real and believable, and you can’t blame them for the haunting. They are a normal 21st-century family.

Note to Hollywood: The actors did an amazing job. There were few special effects, and my awesome RevPub partner pointed out, “it was just actors doing  good job of being weird.” Also, pay attention to the scene with J.K. Simmons. It was a clear, concise way to explain everything. It also has a great line, “Nothing. Nothing makes you special.”

The Grays

I could do a post on the aliens alone. They torture this family, and it starts immediately. First, there are “break-ins” (the cop is an idiot by the way). Then the Barrets start to lose complete control. They have time lapses, become “possessed”, and do some crazy and creepy things. The audience never sees a Gray up close, which is awesome because it reduces the possibility of stupid effects. The Grays take this family over, and it eventually leads to abduction. They’re threatening, and it feels like it could happen to anyone. There’s no escape.

Note to Hollywood: Not seeing the monster is an effective way to scare an audience. It’s much more subtle.

Closure Is Everything

Ending a horror movie well remains one of the biggest obstacles in the genre. It’s hard to do because there are variables, and they can all feel the same. Dark Skies did it, though. The story ties into itself, a sequel is possible, no one jumps out or into the camera for a cheap scare. The aliens abduct a family member. Everything is not dismal or perfect. The Grays won, but at least the family survived, and there’s hope. It ended better than most modern horror movies, and I appreciate that.

Note to Hollywood: Stop using jump/cheap scares at the end. It’s getting annoying and repetitive.

I could go on and on about this movie, but I suggest seeing it yourself. If you’re on the fence about the alien thing, just go with it. I was a little skeptical at first because I was scared it was going to be dumb, but it wasn’t. Dark Skies is an effective, fun scary movie.

Feel free to let us know what you think about it in the comments below!

Complete Review: Aliens and Predators Intro

Throughout my pre-adolescent and teenage years there were two film franchises that dominated my creative sensibilities: the Alien films and the Predator films.
These two IPs fueled a my art work, story-telling, and designing for years and even sparked my interest in warrior culture, comic books, and the sci-fi genre as a whole.
They were some of the first novels I bought for myself, and I wore the VHS taped-off-of-HBO versions of some of the movies out with repeated plays on summer vacations.

The years have not always been kind to these two venerable series as the films got reboots, sequels, spinoffs, and tie-ins that are of varying quality.  What hasn’t changed is my interest and love for the lore of both and some of the iterations of the franchises represent my favorites of their perspective media; from movies, to books, to comics, to video games.

The idea of a full retrospective has been floating around with me for a while but it seemed too big to do.  I’ve recently gone back to watch nearly every film in the movie franchise of both and the time felt right.  A long, complete review of all the movies in both the Alien and Predator franchise, including their various crossovers and tie-ins.  It’ll get years of opinions on two of my favorite series on paper for the first time and will be both gratifying and cathartic!

For the next ten weeks or so it’ll be all Aliens and all Predators all the time, covering the series from their most divine moments to their most ridiculous.

To start off here’s a nice taste of things to come:

Remakes and Reboots Redux: Part 2

Off The Top of My Head

I remember always being behind the times as a kid. I never saw the Rambo or Indiana Jones movies when they were new. I didn’t get the newest pop music or know anything beyond what showed up in “Weird” Al Yankovic or Kids Incorporated. BUT…I distinctly remember the first time I saw a RoboCop movie.

It was actually RoboCop 2, which is slightly inferior but in the same spirit as the original. I loved the action, the big robots, and the stop motion. You saw little glimpses of Officer Alex Murphy’s previous life as a person, enough to make his current state as a cyborg meaningful, but it was mostly shoot ‘em up robot fun with some funny parts and just a dash of character development.

I didn’t see the first film until the 2000s and despite its decidedly 80s vision of crime and the future it held up very well; and I can say that honestly as I didn’t have any youthful attachments to it. Bad guys were wonderfully bad. Robo had an established personality but was a great cyborg. His partner, Anne Lewis, was one of the best tough female characters this side of Vasquez from Aliens. And the story had an excellent progression and a fantastic “oooh gotcha!” conclusion.

The Real RoboCop

THEN they did a remake.

The original RoboCop series established certain demands on anything trying to call itself “RoboCop.” He-is-go-ing-to-talk-like-the-computer-in-War-games. He’ll spin that gun like a he’s in a 1950s western. He’ll call someone a “creep. “ Tell them to freeze. Then lots of shooting will occur.

That’s what RoboCop means to those of us who care about the series and, to be totally honest, would be the audience for a remake series.

Here’s what I don’t watch RoboCop movies for: To see his family life. To get to know him as a person for hour. To have a strong female character turned into…a dude… To see RoboCop CRY. And have Alex Murphy talk like Marky Mark Circa 1991.

Nearly half the remake is used building Alex Murphy’s character. He’s an honest cop, a devoted family man, a good partner, a decent person, a tough guy, a badass, a rebel against corruption. For an hour we see this in story, exposition, and flashbacks. Even after he becomes RoboCop we see more character exposition, as he copes with his new status, trains to become RoboCop a la Batman Begins, and fights against corporate prejudice (from one of the many rather good performances in the film, this one by Jackie Earl Haley. Other great performances include those of Sam Jackson, Michael Keaton, and Gary Oldman).

This is some strange RoboCop…thing

Less than half an hour into the original film Alex Murphy is RoboCop. Out RoboCopping it up with Old Detroit’s street trash. Before he gets all Robo’d, he’s introduced as a rookie to the precinct, which means other characters have to get to know him naturally and thus the audience gets to know him in an organic process. He’s cocky and arrogant, but in less than five seconds of dialogue we see how he’s developed and achieved a rapport with Lewis. He spins his gun because his kid likes it (and maybe he does too…) establishing he’s got a family he cares about, and we see that family in staccato flashes after he’s attacked (actively I’ll say by the bad guys, not in a BS car bomb). All of his character is built in about 10-15 minutes. His transition into RoboCop is done via first-person montage. As he’s switched on, sees something new, and is switched back off again. Time passes, he’s advanced to a new state of Robo, time passes again. Never wasting time so we get to the main story as soon as possible.

RoboCop does a lot of this blow stuff up stuff…

Where Apes updated the premise while making the story fit to a new audience and changing times, 2014’s RoboCop is a near-Clash of the Titans-level farce. The Corporation plot is senseless and muddled. There was a needless “military drones should be legal in the US” angle. Robocop was Strong Sad in an exoskeleton. His wife and child just WOULDN’T GO AWAY. And none of it had to be done.

An hour into the movie RoboCop 2014 makes his first bust (35 minutes passes in the original for RoboCop 1987 to accomplish this) and the corporate mouthpiece comments that Robo ID’d the bad guy after only 60 seconds on duty, and says how impressive that is. Why then, may I ask, did it take the movie 60 MINUTES to get us here?

And none of this “what have they done to me?!” stuff…

Now many of you may start shouting, “But wait, wait, wait, Apes updated its story, was dramatic, and deep, and you showered it with praise!” True. I did. BUT. The original Planet of the Apes movie was a sci-fi drama. Designed to have social commentary, make observations on human hubris, and still wrap it up into a terse, excellent sci-fi movie. That’s exactly what the two new Apes films did.

What was the original RoboCop series? An outstanding, fun, sci-fi action movie with more Dawn of the Dead style tongue-in-cheek commentary on consumerism, economic Darwinism, and social progress seen in the periphery and through action, rather than exposition. It was not a DRAMA. It was NOT a personal introspective look at the life n’ times of a homie from the block who became a robo cop. And how it made it him feel. And what does it mean for society.

The new movie was a product of a film industry that seems not to know how to have much fun anymore. It either makes dreadful and derivative Scary Movie style “fun” or it makes action movies that have to show consequences and emotions rather than just the cartoon style blasty-blasting we saw in the 80s and 90s movies. Even action movies, have to try to hit you in the feels rather than just show a half-dead robo-man blowing away street scum.

More importantly either filmmakers don’t know what kind of movie they want to make, or want to make a cross-genre thing that, as Jim Sterling would say in a mocking, whiny voice, “appeals to a wider audience.” Before making any film the question needs to be asked, “What is this movie about?” And stick to THAT. A movie like RoboCop can have social commentary, the original certainly did. But it shouldn’t shoehorn it in at the expense of the real plot. We shouldn’t spend more than half the film establishing character. We shouldn’t spend an equal amount of time on drama. We shouldn’t waste even more screen time getting into the mechanics of how RoboCop robo-works.  We shouldn’t go down the plot-rabbit-hole chasing military drone legalization and political debate. A movie that tries to do everything at once accomplishes doing nothing much in the end.

In a scene that packs more emotion in three minutes of activity than the 2014 remake did in an hour of exposition, Alex Murphy lies to his wife in RoboCop 2 saying, “They made this…to honor him.” They certainly didn’t make the new RoboCop to honor you, Alex.  So Hollywood, the fans are taking away your remake privileges. Dead or alive they’re coming with me…

Next week will be a bonus wrap up with a pair of movies about the same character, one from the 90s one from the last couple of years, that both succeeded in making fun movies but in totally different ways.

Most Underrated Horror Movie: Event Horizon

It’s Halloween and we at RevPub are doing our own horror movie retrospective. Not a list of favorites or least favorites, but specific categories each week! This week I’m taking a look at what I think is the most underrated horror movie in recent memory…

Event Horizon: Do You See?!

What makes a great horror film? Mood, build of tension, and good characters are definitely on the list. Many will point to successful other horror movies, Carpenter’s Halloween, Hitchcock’s Psycho, as achieving these things, but the overlooked gem Event Horizon does them as well as any horror film I’ve seen.

I won’t go into the plot beyond the set up: Sam Neil stars as Dr. Weir, a scientist accompanying a mission to investigate the ship “Event Horizon,” which vanished years ago and he had a hand in designing. Lawrence Fishburn is Miller, the captain of the salvage team which is also full of great character actors and diverse personalities within the film from a no-nonsense pilot, flippant rescue tech, and a motherly XO.

While this all sounds traditionally sci-fi, the film actually belongs more in the haunted house genre, and is one of the most effective in that category. Mixing equal parts Aliens, Hellraiser, The Shining, and Amityville Horror Event Horizon succeeds where so many genre mash ups have failed. Yes, it’s set in space, but the scares are psychological. It has as much in common with Poltergeist as it does Alien 3 and the nature of the scares is actually more personal than many modern horror movies. Since it was in all the adverts for it I don’t think I’m spoiling anything to mention that the ship left space and ended up in a horrifying dimension, an excellent concept and one used to perfect effect. No creepy monsters or aliens here…all the scares and all the evil is cerebral and comes from people… It is terrifically subtle. Yes there are jump scares, but they mostly occur early and due to sound so it gets you tense early and then never uses the “cheap” jump scare tactic again. It also has gore but it is either seen in quick flashes or is obscured by the scene so it never loses its impact.

Add to this the excellent set and sound design and superb cast and you have a perfect storm of horror film-ology. So why isn’t it considered a modern classic instead of a lost treasure? One reason is probably the casting. The actors in the film are terrific character actors known for intense and effective performances and likely cast because they fit the roles perfectly; this rather than shoe horning in some marquee draw who has no place in the film and is only there to sell tickets. There are also no eye-candy characters (see THIS post…), everyone looks like they belong to a crew of a salvage team. And finally, the premise: a space ship that creates a black hole and ends up in another dimension doesn’t sound like horror potential. So many of the slasher (and later torture) fans gave it a miss. And what a tragedy as it does horror far better than many of the movies in those genres have.

The very well-designed and creepy gravity drive.

If you look at it’s the success of its descendants it makes me wonder if the film may be on the verge of a renaissance. Games like Dead Space lifted its premise, tone, and environments whole-cloth. Even my beloved Warhammer 40k, though it predates the film, borrowed some of the concepts in its later editions. I’m hoping, as the audience has matured and become more sophisticated (strangely because of movies like Event Horizon) the progenitor of so much of modern sci-fi horror will finally get its due.

I’m holding out hope the next time I exclaim “Do you See?!” to a room full of horror fans the response from the vast majority will be “Yes……I see….”



Off the Charts: Fond Farewell to Futurama

Off The Charts Header

In 1999 a terrific show aired its first episode.  It was smart, yet low brow; classy, yet crude; and cruel, yet hilarious.  I have never before, or since, seen a show that could so span genres and play with emotions, pop culture, and trending topics as well as it did.  It could actually make you tear up in the same episode your sides hurt from laughter.  One of the best shows, consistently, I’ve ever seen.  And now it’s come to an end…….again….

Yes I’m talking about Futurama.

Futurama is a singular show.  You care deeply about the characters, their plights, and their relationships, but can still laugh uproariously when they get heads hacked off (only to be put back on again.  It’s the future, people!)  I started watching Fry, Leela, Bender, Amy, and company from premiere night.  I knew it would be my kind of show, and I’ve followed it religiously since.

Fox never knew how to use the smart writing and thought it should play to the same market as The Simpsons. (Ok to get something off my chest…I LOVE(D) The Simpsons.  I thought it was one of the best shows ever made…from about 1989-1998…  Since then it has become a showcase of Homer’s high-pitched screaming, and nonsensical guest stars…I haven’t watched a new one in years and don’t plan to)  Fox put it on adjacent to its venerable yellow-skinned family comedy and hoped to capture the same crowd.  Unfortunately, by then, the Simpsons’ comedy had become a little “dumber” while Futurama played to a newer “uber-nerd” crowd and was written by math, physics, and computer science PhDs.

The show was pre-empted by sports, moved to and from various time slots, and delayed (and delayed, and delayed) until it was finally “cancelled” in 2003.

After extended runs on the Cartoon Network, Futurama fan outcry was such they creators made four direct-to-dvd movies and eventually found their way onto Comedy Central where they’ve run the past four years.

It was a strange event to see a show cancelled, brought back on DVD, and then renewed on a whole new network.  But I was thrilled to see it back.  It was just as funny and insightful as ever, and without the network TV yoke could add a little extra crude humor to the mix.

All of the voices returned, which is essential as the BEST, seriously people, the BEST voice acting possible can be seen in this show.  Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal, Phil Lamarr, Lauren Tom, Maurice LaMarche, Tress McNeille, Dave Herman, Tom Kenny and the legendary Frank Welker make the finest ensemble cast I’ve ever seen.  And they truly make you appreciate good voice acting, especially when compared to the celebrity-voiced cartoon features cranked out by Hollywood nowadays!

Now the show’s third incarnation will sadly come to an end in September.  Which means one of the greatest shows to ever air must also have the distinction of being one of the most cancelled programs in TV history.

To me this is one of the reasons TV is in the state that it’s in, and why more and more viewers are turning to fan-supported programs on YouTube and other internet sites.  Yes they run on “ratings” too, however with an audience (like me) able to watch and have our ratings count at non-standard times (I’ve found people in my generation may not want to watch the show when the channel airs it, the internet provides us this option!) our views count whether we’re watching on release day or weeks later.  Granted for every Geek & Sundry there is Annoying Orange but both can live in harmony on the internet rather than in competition.  Unlike TV where great shows like Futurama go up against the likes of Honey Boo Boo and somehow come up short.

Though David X. Cohen, the terrific co-creator of Futurama, has stated the show will never again return like it did before, I’m holding out hopes we’ll see something of the characters again.  How about a theater feature, guys?  Your fans will come out to support you!

I’ll still relive the show again and again on DVD (and for those who don’t own them, this is a series that is a MUST buy on dvd.  Don’t think you get the full enjoyment watching it on Netflix.  The audio commentaries for this series are the best ever.  Seriously EVER.  As good as the show without them.)  and hope that Futurama somehow attains more unlikely one-ups than can be found in a 1988 issue of Nintendo Power.

If it doesn’t (which it likely won’t) it will be one show I will truly miss.  It represented the best that TV could put together.  Well-made, well-written, well-acted programming that made you feel the people behind it truly cared about their show rather than just produced it to make a few extra bucks or pander to the lowest common denominator.

So here’s to Futurama.  ::spooky tremolo::  Good bye to the world of tomorrow!  (I hope to see you again out there!)

Give it up for a great show…

Official Website

Great fan page, Can’t Get Enough Futurama