Mimesis Is An Underrated And Under Appreciated Horror Flick

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Writer/director Douglas Schulze and his co-writer Joshua Wagner have crafted in their movie Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead a horror movie that is a surprisingly interesting horror movie.  It’s an interesting movie in that unlike so many other movies out there today, it isn’t just another rip-off remake churned out just to make some money.  On the surface, it comes across as an update to a classic.  But it’s more than that.  In the grand scheme of things, what Schulze and Wagner have in Mimesis is a movie that is more a social statement than a horror movie.  That mix of elements together makes Mimesis a movie that is both fitting for any Halloween party this year and for any film studies class any time of the year.

Mimesis is an interesting film in that while it comes across on the surface as being an update to a cinema classic, it turns out to be anything but.   It in fact turns out to be more of a movie within a movie, if that makes any kind of sense.  To make things even more interesting, the main story’s characters are forced to play out the movie within a movie against their will adding to the horror.  What Schulze and Wagner have in effect done here is not so much tried to remake or even update a classic movie but pay homage to the legend established by the original by including it almost verbatim as part of their own story.  They even have Keith (played by David G. Brown) make it clear to the rest of the group that they are actually inside the classic movie.  This lets audiences know that the pair weren’t trying to be like other movie makers from bigger studios.  What’s more, it also foreshadows something more sinister at work.  This makes the movie even more worth watching.  That’s because it makes audiences want to know what that bigger sinister force could be.  And that bigger sinister force is eventually revealed.  But for the sake of those that have yet to see the movie, it won’t be revealed here.  What will be revealed here is that the story itself as a horror movie is just part of what makes Mimesis worth the watch.  The seeming social statement being made in the movie makes it worth watching, too.  That statement is the argument over whether or not the media as a whole plays a role in the actions of murderers and other criminals.

The argument concerning the link between criminal acts and the media is established early in the movie’s opening sequence.  The opening sequence sees the character of Alfonso Betz (Sid Haig) discussing the argument at a horror movie convention.  Alfonso argues that there is not a connection between movies, video games, TV shows, etc. and the actions of murderers and other violent criminals.  Not to spoil the story too much, but that argument plays into the grand scheme of Mimesis.  It is driven home late in the movie after the big reveal as to what’s really going on and leads to the eventual discussion on whether or not the media is in fact to blame for the actions of certain disturbed individuals.  It isn’t the first movie to examine this premise.  It’s already been done in Sigourney Weaver’s 1995 starring vehicle, Copycat.  But to the defense of Mimesis that movie examined the concept in a completely different fashion.  That makes Mimesis even more of an underrated and under appreciated movie.

The fact that Mimesis would pay direct homage to Night of the Living Dead without trying to rip it off is a major reason for any horror movie lover to check out this movie.  That it could even include an equally interesting philosophical discussion without allowing itself to get lost in itself makes it even more worthy of respect among both movie lovers and horror movie lovers alike.  While it is extremely subtle, one more factor comes into play in this movie that makes it even more worthy of respect.  That factor is that by paying direct homage to George A. Romero and John A. Russo’s 1968 classic without trying to remake or update it, Schulze and Wagner have in effect found a way to get a whole new generation of horror movie buffs into the classics.  And a refresher course in the classics is definitely something that today’s horror movie fans and horror movie makers need more than ever.  Mimesis is available now on Blu-ray and DVD and can be ordered direct from Anchor Bay Entertainment’s website at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/detail.aspx?projectID=0d053d07-8432-e211-a8d1-d4ae527c3b65.  More information on this and other Anchor Bay titles is available online at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com and http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Scott’s Directorial Debut An Underrated Work Of Film Art

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Ridley Scott is one of the most revered directors in the movie business today.  To his credit, Scott has directed numerous hits including Bladerunner, Alien, Gladiator and many others.  While the aforementioned flicks have done more than their share in making him one of Hollywood’s head names, it was this far lesser known movie that gave Scott his real start behind the camera on the big screen.  It goes without saying that The Duellists is very much a niche film.  As much as it’s a niche film though, it’s a movie that could so easily generate quite a bit of discussion.  What makes it so worthy of discussion is its story.

The crux of The Duellists’ story centers on two men who let a single misunderstanding become the fuel for an ongoing feud that gets rather violent to say the least.  And it’s set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic era France.  On the surface, that’s all that this story is.  But on a deeper level, one could argue that it serves as an allegory of sorts about pride and human emotion.  A simple misunderstanding between D’Hubert (Keith Carradine) and Feraud (Harvey Keitel) lead to the pair’s ongoing feud.  While the story does start off a little bit slow, once it gets going, it has no trouble keeping its audiences’ attention.  What audiences get once they’re pulled in is two men who are increasingly wrapped up in the anger directed at the other.  The real reward to the near two-hour story is its surprise twist ending.  The ending won’t be given away here.  But it should be noted that the ending is a fitting closer to the story, offering total closure and an important moral to add to the discussions raised by the story.

It goes without saying that The Duellists is not a movie that will hit home with just one watch.  That’s not an entirely bad thing, though.  It’s really one of those stories that will grow on audiences more with each viewing.  It’s sort of like the old adage says, once you’re at the top, there’s nowhere to go but down.  In the case of The Duellists, there’s nowhere to go but up.  That’s thanks in large part to the story.  What helps to really make that the case isn’t so much just the story, but one of the bonus features included in the brand new Blu-ray re-issue of this must see movie and its companion commentary.  The new Blu-ray re-issue includes a bonus feature titled, “Duelling Directors: Ridley Scott and Kevin Reynolds Featurette” that is just as informative as the bonus audio commentary by Ridley Scott included with the movie.  Both the commentary and this bonus feature go a long way toward helping audiences understand everything that went into bringing this story to life.  Audiences will in turn have more appreciation for the movie with each viewing.  The new Blu-ray re-issue will be available Tuesday, January 29th in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/215688.

Prometheus Puts A New Fire In The Sci-Fi World

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox’s new Alien prequel, Prometheus is one of the biggest and most underrated movies of the 2012 Summer blockbuster season.  What director Ridley Scott and writers Damon Lindelof and John Spaits have crafted in this movie is a story that works not only as a standalone alien based action flick, but also a movie that connects the early Alien movies to the more recent Alien vs. Predator movies.  Add in spectacular special effects and audiences have a movie that is not just one of the Summer’s top movies, but also one of the year’s best.Prometheus has largely been received to mixed reviews.  But one has to wonder if those who had their doubts about the movie had any experience with the previously mentioned movies.  Those who have any knowledge about the original franchise and the comic books will recall that the aliens were created by the predators.  Thus the movies in the AVP franchise.  Now it’s obvious that the engineers in Prometheus look nothing like the predators from the early movies.  But Scott and his team of writers do make it clear that the aliens were created by something.  So that being noted, they at least made the attempt to keep some form of continuity in the alien universe.  Fans of both franchises should be impressed by this.

While the “engineers” in Prometheus likely have no connection to the predators, it is noted that they were created.  The difference here is that in the case of this story, Scott and his writers put in a classic story of aliens intending to invade Earth.  Essentially, the “engineers” created the aliens in question to destroy humans.  So it leaves the question wide open, did the “engineers” really create humans?  Or did they only create the alien species just for the sake of taking over Earth.  Late in the movie, Elizabeth (played by Noomi Rapace) mentions to David that she still believes the “engineers” created humans.  And that she deserves to know why they changed their minds and decided to kill them.  But David’s retort was does it matter why she wants to know why they changed their minds and decided to kill the human race?  This generates the whole theological versus scientific discussion concerning where man came from.  Even in the twenty-first century, there are those who believe that man was created not by God, but by other beings from other worlds.  It’s an interesting topic.  The way in which Scott and the writers approached the topic for this story, made the movie that much more interesting.

Adding to the interest of the general story is the bonus deleted and extended scenes feature on the new Blu-ray and DVD release of Prometheus.  At one point, audiences are offered an extended version of the aforementioned discussion between Elizabeth and David.  It goes into more depth about the whole back story of the alien origins and the belief of whether or not the “engineers” really created man or if it was God.  The deleted and extended scenes feature (especially with the additional commentary) are proof positive of how much bonus features can do for a movie.  Seeing all of the noted scenes adds an extra level of depth to the overall viewing experience.  Perhaps those who criticized the movie while it was in theaters will have a different view and appreciation for Prometheus after watching it again at home along with the bonus features.

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