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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #40!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast! A somewhat bumper edition this time.

This week, I join Grace Duffy, Luke Dunne from Film in Dublin and Phil Bagnall to discuss the week in film. As usual, we talk about the top ten and the new releases, as well as what we’ve watched this week. In this episode, we all debate Mandy, Grace discusses her rewatch of Arrival, Luke contemplates Bad Times at the El Royale and Phil ruminates upon Wonder Woman.

The bulk of this week’s news coverage is given over to Phil’s trip to the London Film Festival, and he discusses his highlights of the festival; his opinion on the headliners, his hidden gems and his disappointments. In other film news, we discuss the WANDA Feminist Film Festival in Belfast and the Galway Junior Film Fleadh.

The top ten:

  1. Kler (Clergy)
  2. Samson Et Dalila – Met Opera 2018 (Opera)
  3. Hunter Killer
  4. Venom
  5. First Man
  6. Johnny English Strikes Again
  7. Goosebumps II: Haunted Halloween
  8. Smallfoot
  9. Halloween
  10. A Star is Born

New releases:

  • Possum
  • The Guilty
  • Bad Reputation
  • An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn
  • The Hate You Give
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Katie

You can download the episode here, or listen to it below.

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Non-Review Review: Halloween (2018)

The Halloween franchise remains a strange beast, for a number of reasons.

Most notably, it is one of the relatively rare horror movie franchises that has actively and repeatedly refused the siren call of over-complication and entanglement. Michael Myers is an iconic horror character, on par with other seventies and eighties ghouls like the creature from Predator, the monster from Alien, Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th Franchise and even Freddie Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, as the mythology of those characters has spiralled and intertwined, Michael Myers remains a very simple, straightforward concept.

The Shape of things to come.

The horror reboot is a fixture of the modern pop cultural landscape, and Michael Myers went through his own version of that. There’s an argument to be made that Myers came out much better than many of his contemporaries with Rob Zombie’s Halloween. However, even before that, the Halloween franchise seemed to emphasise its essential blankness. Halloween III did not feature Myers at all, which seems crazy in hindsight. Halloween: H20 effectively rewrote the franchise’s history so that only Halloween and Halloween II actually happened.

Of course, there were films in the series that indulged in all the standard horror movie tropes, which tried to develop and cultivate a mythology around the iconic masked killer. This is most obvious in the iterations of the franchise without Jamie Lee Curtis, particularly in the sixth film Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. However, it is telling that these sorts of complications and elaborations have frequently been brushed aside as detritus, understood in hindsight to diminish the power of the character and the franchise.

Facing up to him.

The latest iteration of Halloween understands that this inherent blankness, this resistance against the pull of over-complication or over-mythologisation, is the key to the franchise’s success. Like H20, Halloween is what might be termed a “deboot” in modern parlance, a direct reversal of an earlier change in direction. Indeed, it’s notable for the thoroughness of the debooting. In its opening five minutes, Halloween wipes away not only the Rob Zombie reboot, but also the earlier H20 deboot, and everything in the past forty years.

In the teaser, the audience is bluntly informed by a British true crime journalist that Michael Myers “for the past forty years, by all accounts, has not said a word.” That statement is more than just an important bit of continuity wrangling. It is an important statement of purpose for Halloween‘s understanding of its own franchise and its central character. Halloween very pointedly updates its storytelling mechanics and framework to reflect the forty years since the original film, but it also understands that part of the appeal of Michael Myers has always been his blankness.

Homecoming.

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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #34!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast!

This week, I join Jason Coyle, Ronan Doyle, Grace Duffy and Andrew Quinn to discuss the week in film. As usual, we talk about the top ten and the new releases, as well as what we’ve watched this week. In this episode, we discuss the work and legacy (and delayed appreciation) of Agnès Varda, the charm of When Harry Met Sally, the appeal of the original Halloween and the horror of The Exorcist.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

Top Ten:

  1. The Nun
  2. Black ’47
  3. BlacKkKlansman
  4. Christopher Robin
  5. Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation
  6. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
  7. Incredibles II
  8. The Meg
  9. Searching…
  10. Ant Man and the Wasp

New Releases:

  • A Mother Brings Her Son to be Shot
  • The Predator
  • Crazy Rich Asians
  • King of Thieves
  • The Rider

50. The Thing – Halloween 2017 (#165)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, a Halloween treat. John Carpenter’s The Thing.

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Millennium – The Curse of Frank Black (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

The Curse of Frank Black is a phenomenal piece of television, and an episode that demonstrates the raw potential of the approach that Glen Morgan and James Wong have adopted towards Millennium, making the show feel (simultaneously and paradoxically) more intimate and more epic. It is a show about the end of the world, but where the end of the world can be conveyed through the late night wandering of an old man on Halloween. It is a superb piece of work on just about every level.

The Curse of Frank Black is, in a many ways, the perfect encapsulation of many of the themes and ideas that Morgan and Wong have played with over the years. It is constructed in the style of a classic horror film, but is driven by character. As with Scully in Beyond the Sea, Mulder in One Breath, and McQueen in The Angriest Angel, Frank Black finds himself facing an existential crisis at the darkest moment of his life. What will Frank do when faced with the most horrific of possibilities?

millennium-thecurseoffrankblack22

What does anybody do when they are confronted with the end of their world? Morgan and Wong are fond of putting their characters through the metaphorical crucible, seeing what happens when the foundations are eroded and the support framework is taken away. The Curse of Frank Black suggests that there are only two possible options when the world falls to pieces: either you stand safely on your side of the line and watch it happen, or you pick up a bucket of water and start cleaning up.

It is a simple choice, an elegant metaphor, and it sits at the heart of The Curse of Frank Black.

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My 12 for ’14: The Guest and a Halloween Christmas Movie…

With 2014 coming to a close, we’re counting down our top twelve films of the year. Check back daily for the latest featured film.

2014 was a spectacular year for genre work. Perhaps emboldened by the success of genre fare (shared universes! talking apes! killer racoons!) in the summer movie season over the past number of years, it seemed like both major and minor studios were more willing to play with concepts that could easily seem absurd or throwaway.

’71 blended its historical real-world setting with the claustrophobia one might expect to find in horror thriller – a zombie movie set in seventies Belfast. The Babadook is a awards-caliber study of disillusioned parenthood that just happens to use the language of a supernatural horror. Birdman is a blistering Hollywood satire and character study driven by imagery and iconography more traditionally associated with fantasy. There has always been genre overlap, but it seemed particularly pronounced this year.

theguest

The Guest revels in its pulpy nature, offering a gleefully absurd intersection of a classic slasher movie with a more traditional holiday fare. The story of a mysterious visitor who moves in with the family of a deceased soldier, The Guest is wry and quick-witted, subversive and cheeky in equal measure. Anchored by a script from Simon Barrett that refuses to pull any punches, razor-sharp direction from Adam Wingard and a superb central performance from Dan Stevens, The Guest is a pure pulpy pleasure.

In many respects, The Guest feels like what would happen if you asked John Carpenter to make a Christmas movie. Only set at Halloween.

Flying the flag...

Flying the flag…

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Star Trek – Catspaw (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

Catspaw was the first episode to enter production for that second season of Star Trek. However, it was not the first to air. Amok Time served as the season opener. Instead, Catspaw was produced as something of a rarity – a Star Trek holiday special. Produced in May, it was eventually broadcast during the last week of October. Given the subject matter and trappings of the episode, that seems highly appropriate.

We are, after all, looking at what amounts to a Star Trek Halloween Special.

Bones joins the cast...

Bones joins the cast…

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