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The X-Files – Ice (Review)

Now we’re talking. It’s been a tough couple of episodes, but The X-Files bounces back with a strong contender for the best episode of the first season. Like the last collaboration between Morgan and Wong, Ice is one gigantic homage to a classic horror film. (Well, two classic horror films.) Shadows took its cues from The Entity, while Ice draws heavily from both John Carpenter’s The Thing and Howard Hawk’s The Thing From Another World, both based on the  John W. Campbell Jr. novella Who Goes There?

However, Ice works a lot better than Shadows. Part of that is down to the fact that Morgan and Wong seem genuinely enthused and engaged with their premise, rather than simply painting by numbers. Part of this is also down to the fact that this sort of horror and paranoia is more firmly in the show’s wheelhouse than the generic “protective avenging ghost” narrative from Shadows.

Ear, ear!

Ear, ear!

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Non-Review Review: The Thing (2011)

The reflexive reaction to a film like the 2011 version of The Thing is one of scepticism. There’s something very strange about seeing a movie that had been relatively unloved on initial release garnering the remake/prequel treatment, an attempt to cash in on its cult success by turning it into a franchise. And, to be fair, a lot of that cynicism is justified by The Thing. There are times when it seems like – despite the obvious affection for the original horror master piece held by the writers and the director – that nobody really has any idea why John Carpenter’s The Thing has become such an iconic piece of cinematic horror.

There are some nice touches here, and it seems like director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. is genuine in his love of the classic body horror. Unfortunately, it feels like the finished product is more the result of mechanical number-crunching than honest enthusiasm.

All fired up...

All fired up…

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Fantastic Four by John Byrne Omnibus (Review/Retrospective)

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fantastic Four, I’m taking a look at some of the stories featuring the characters over the past half-century.

John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run is pretty major as Marvel comic book runs go. It’s generally regarded to be one of the better comic book runs of the eighties, alongside Frank Miller’s Daredevil and Walt Simonson’s Thor, but it’s also widely regarded as the best run on Marvel’s flagship family since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby finished their record-setting run establishing both the series and the shared Marvel Universe. (The length of the run has since been surpassed, appropriately enough, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley on Ultimate Spider-Man.) This was my first time reading the run, which has received the massive omnibus treatment from Marvel. I have to admit, while not quite blown away by it, I was remarkably impressed by the love and craftsmanship that Byrne poured into the run. I wouldn’t class it as iconic or genre-defining, but it’s a remarkably solid examination of the franchise that launched the Marvel Universe.

Fantastic!

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Non-Review Review: The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter’s The Thing is almost the perfect late-night Halloween viewing experience. It’s one of those movies that is gloriously trashy entertainment, with any number of visceral thrills, but also more deeply unnerving. Updating the 1951 The Thing From Another World, and arguably remaining truer to the original story, Who Goes There?, John Carpenter’s adaptation perfectly captures the unnerving paranoia of a world where there’s no promise that anybody is exactly what they claim to be. In space, nobody can hear you scream, but your odds aren’t too much better in the white Antarctic tundra.

What sort of Thing could do that?

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