Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Con Viewing - NotLD: Reanimated & Alien vs. Ninja

I was able to catch a couple of films, along with the usual trailers at this past San Diego Comic-con. Both films have been shown at film festivals or limited screenings previously, plus both will soon have DVD release (if they have not already).

Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated I first heard of on either Facebook or Good Reads (in the Zombie group). It sounded interesting and adding them as a Facebook ‘friend’ got me more information. As some of you may know, George Romero lost the copyright on his initial film, due to the actions of the original distributor. Because of this the film has fallen into the public domain. This was unfortunate for Mr. Romero, but fortunate for some fans. In this case, artist/filmmaker, Mike Schneider has gathered dozens of artists (in different styles & media) to re-imagine the film. Using the original soundtrack, artists have used techniques ranging from stop-motion animation, computer & hand-drawn animation, sock puppets and live actors to reproduce the movie. Some scenes are redone using filters of sorts or the artists drawing over the original film. Still others have used the soundtrack but slightly diverged from what we remember in Romero’s film.

Naturally, most artists wanted to work with the more memorable scenes (the graveyard, the girl in the basement, the attempt to escape, etc.), so some artists were assigned to do sections consisting of mostly dialogue and minimal action. To be honest, not all the styles worked, at least for me, but I appreciate the time and effort that went into it. It was interesting hearing some of the artists, in a panel following the showing, discussing what and how they did their scenes, as well as talking about possible future projects. One, apparently in the works, involves Old Time Radio programs in the horror/suspense genre. As these were never filmed the artists will have even more freedom to re-imagine them.

If you’re a fan of Romero’s film (and don’t consider this a total blasphemy) I recommend you seek it out. It’s available via Netflix and you can also purchase the DVD directly from the website.

ALIEN vs. NINJA is exactly what the title implies and if you scroll down this blog you’ll see the trailer for the film that ran on YouTube. AvN (as it is called on the posters), takes place in feudal Japan during a war between rival warlords. Following an attack against an enemy stronghold a group of ninjas witnesses a fiery object falling from the sky and are shortly attacked by a creature that apparently survived the crash. Lots of wonderful martial-arts action and disgusting alien infestation takes place. The gore, like the fight scenes, is way over the top, so expect streams of blood, decapitations and ripped off body parts. In other words, everything I love in a film.

AvN is the first in a series of Japanese action/horror films to be released in the U.S. by FUNimation Entertainment, under the Sushi Typhoon label. If you are into anime you probably already know that Funimation is one of the larger distributors of that product in the country. All the films released are in the original Japanese, but with English subtitles. AvN, not to give anything away, actually has a joke involving several of the characters speaking English in one scene. The crowd at SDCC loved it. The showing on Friday night, included the appearance of three of the actors who appear in the film (Mika Hijii, the female ninja; Ben Hiura, the lead ninja; and the actor who wears the alien outfit, whose name I sadly cannot recall).

I love this stuff, but if you need your horror movies to be serious, I don’t think that Sushi Typhoon is what you are looking for. It’s possible that some of their future films won’t be quite so over the top, but from what I saw in the trailers for three other ST films, AvN fits in perfectly. No nudity, some implied sex and some profanity, plus the violence and gore I mentioned before. Check it out!
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