Archive for the ‘creature features’ category

“We Are Gone,” The Terror, Episode 10

May 22, 2018

All good things must come to an end, and so The Terror wrapped up its tenth and final season episode (“We Are Gone”) with more than a bit of Grand Guignol, complete with cannibalism and the Tuunbaq ripping into Hickey and his rebellious men, literally tearing the sadistic psychopath in two before succumbing to its poisonous diet. You are what you eat, after all…

We were given more of a close-up of the Inuit monster in this conclusive episode, his countenance a disturbing mixture of human and bestial elements, almost resembling someone’s crazy old uncle; maybe Uncle Fester of The Addams Family. A “spirit who dresses itself as an animal,” the mythological creature was said to consume not only the flesh but also the soul of its victims. 

Where human flesh eating was concerned, there are suggestions in the historical evidence that some cannibalism occurred in the actual Franklin Expedition, although it was ramped up for horrific effect in the Dan Simmons novel as well as the series adaptation of it. In this television adaptation, surgeon Goodsir poisoned himself unknown to his captors and slit his wrists, his body then becoming a fatal feast for them. Other subtle differences between the book and the screen adaptation occurred as well, and without issuing spoilers I did find the novel’s ending more satisfying. If you were captivated by the televised series, check out the book as well as a really well done and worthwhile horror tale…

Vintage Sci-Fi Delights, or Nasty Things from Venus…

May 21, 2018


I recently revisited Ray Harryhausen’s 20 Million Miles to Earth, which I first saw as a kid and which hooked me on science fiction for life.  The 1957 black and white film featured Harryhausen’s stop-action creature features, and was filmed in Italy because that was where Harryhausen wanted to vacation.  He wanted the film to be in color, but they didn’t have the budget to do so at the time although a later colorized version was made. The name of the snake-tailed Ymir creature from Venus was not mentioned in the film because they were afraid people would confuse the name with “Emir.”

The film included many memorable scenes such as a fight to the death between the Ymir and an elephant, which traumatized the young me as the elephant lost.  Then there was the grand finale scene which featured a show-down with the creature in the Roman Coliseum; what could be better staging?!

Equally epic was Harryhausen’s stop-action filmed fight with the skeleton army in Jason and the Argonauts.  That one creeped me out as a kid for some time…

 

 

The C, the C, the Open C on “The Terror”

May 14, 2018

 

Watching a late episode of The Terror series is somewhat like regarding a mummy; there are things here that are distinctly unpleasant to see, but not only can’t you not look away, but you keep on going back for more!  As someone who is also reading Dan Simmons’ novel as they watch the series, you might even say that I’m double-dipping, a true misery porn junkie.  This is depressing and disturbing stuff, but I can’t stop returning to it because it’s so well done!

As people with an understanding of what actually happened to the historical Franklin Expedition, we know what the characters do not know as the story unfolds, namely that they are all doomed and that this doesn’t end well for them, regardless of what they do.  When faced with extreme and desperate conditions, we are shown the polarities of how people can respond to dire circumstances in the now separate camps of Captain Crozier versus the mutinous and psychopathic rebel leader, Hickey.  Crozier has become elevated as the series has progressed, whereas Hickey has gravitated towards the bestial.  Whereas Crozier has remained a civilized man and become almost a spiritual leader, for Hickey cannibalism is now literally on the table.

We say goodbye to Commander Fitzjames in this episode, his condition deteriorating rapidly and an assisted suicide conducted by Crozier.  Captive in Hickey’s camp and witness to a murder, surgeon Goodsir (pictured) is forced to butcher the body for consumption lest Hickey kill another for failure to comply.  And Ice Master Blankey, already minus a lower leg from a previous confrontation with Tuunbaq, goes out solo in a suicidal mission against the creature to buy his compatriots some time.  Ingeniously, the guy wraps himself in forks so as to make the monster’s job less easy, and perhaps enact revenge from within should he be ingested…the guy’s going down, but you gotta love his spirit!

Betrayed by a double agent in his own camp, Crozier is captured by Hickey’s men, with the final outcome to this and other hanging issues to find resolution in episode 10, the last of the season.

 

“Terror Camp Clear” Episode of “The Terror”

May 8, 2018

With all hell breaking loose both within and without on episode 8 of The Terror, Captain Fitzjames unleashed a rocket on the rampaging Tuunbaq running amok in their camp, hitting the over-sized, long-necked polar bear-like creature a good shot but basically just changing its course.  This was a very cool use of retro technology, and Fitzjames looked good while deploying it, showing courage under extreme duress.  Mid-19th century weaponry just wasn’t up to the job, sadly…

The climatic battle scene followed an episode fueled by paranoia and rebellion in which seaman Hickey almost staged a successful mutiny after blaming his slaughter of two crew mates on an Inuit family who were then killed in reprisal by the Erebus/Terror crews.  Hickey then whipped the camp into a frenzy by rumors that an Inuit counter-attack was imminent, using it as justification to seize arms and distribute them among his followers.  When Hickey’s ruse was discovered and countered, we were fixing to see a hanging when a cocaine-addled crewman Collins posed a distraction, staggering in and closely followed by the Tuunbaq monster, who was either irate that natives had been killed or was uncontrolled by the departure of the shaman-like Lady Silence.

Anyways, Hickey escaped in the confusion of the Tuunbaq’s killing spree together with sympathizers and captives, and in alienating the Inuit population the expedition’s members have lost their best remaining chance of survival. With their bodies becoming covered with loathsome sores from scurvy and lead poisoning, things will continue to go downhill from here in the two episodes remaining of The Terror

“Horrible From Supper” on “The Terror”

May 1, 2018

Smelling human flesh burning in the fire which had taken down the carnival in the previous episode, a starving and troubled crewman confesses to ship’s surgeon Goodsir that it smelled good.  “My nose and my stomach, they don’t know horrible from supper.  But I do!,” he agonizes.  This exchange explains the episode’s title, one in which the men of the doomed Franklin Expedition begin to have more to fear from themselves than from the supernatural.  As a Walt Kelly character from the comic strip Pogo once remarked, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!” While the Tuunbaq  monster does not make an appearance, his handiwork is seen in the form of the decapitated heads of the advance expedition sent out in episode 2 for civilization from the becalmed ships…poor devils didn’t make it further than 18 miles away before having their heads handed to them, quite literally.

Abandoning the ice-locked Erebus and Terror ships, the crew drags supplies and rowboats on sledges over the frozen terrain, with their badly canned food proving over half rancid and 100% lead-tainted.  The effects of the lead poisoning are becoming increasingly visible, with acts of violent madness emerging to layer onto the on-going grinding hardships that are inexorably wearing down the British seamen, geared now for physical survival rather than adventurous discovery.  This is “misery porn,” and the worst lies yet ahead.  

We are given glimpses of that grim future in the deteriorating mental health of a number of the crew who are beginning to turn from their fellow mates to acts of rebellion and even murder against them.  With the captain’s dog being surreptitiously harvested as food and an officer initiating first contact with an Inuit group brutally slain by the mutinous (and now mad) Cornelius Hickey, it’s time to start your countdown to cannibalism clocks ticking…


Rampage:  Megafauna Rampant…

April 11, 2018

I’m glad that my cousin, Ralph, finally made it to the big screen!  He always had dreams of going to Hollywood, and deserved it after all those years of parking cars, pumping gas, and hanging out at furry and video game conventions.  It was annoying to him that people would pull at his costume only to discover that it wasn’t one. – – Ahh, his mother would have been so proud of him!  On the other hand, I wasn’t granted Ralph’s athleticism, being only a bookish writer…fortune, thou art a cruel mistress!

I suppose it was inevitable that they’d make a movie loosely based on the vintage video game, Rampage, and starring Dwayne Johnson.  After all, Doom turned out so well!  In the long-ago, I can remember playing the video game, and never doing terribly well…such is the the story of my life!  Anyways, in his latest action film outing, the Rock plays primatologist Davis Okoye who is attempting to intervene on behalf of his albino silverback gorilla, George, the object of a rogue genetic experiment gone awry. – –Tell me about it!  George, Ralph, and other mutant animals grown to enormous size are, well, rampaging through North America, and causing big trouble and general mayhem.  It’s up to Dwayne Johnson and others to find an antidote…

This sci fi/fantasy offering sounds like good brainless fun, and is opening April 13th at a theater near you!  A CGI-heavy movie, it also features Jeffrey Dean Morgan of The Walking Dead, minus his Negan bat, Lucille.  I expect that Ralphie will give a memorable performance, and even if he doesn’t, I’m still proud of the big lug… 😉

“Punished, As A Boy” on “The Terror”

April 10, 2018

To dispense with what the episode title refers to, it appears that when you’re “punished as a boy” on a 19th century British ship, you’re flogged on your bottom rather than on your back, complete with all of your shipmates watching for both pain and humiliation.  We do get to see this, unfortunately, complete with blood spattering, agonized grunts from the punished, and the man’s behind resembling raw hamburger following his ordeal.- – Hey, horror isn’t pretty!  

This is grim stuff, but things are getting pretty grim indeed, with the Tuunbaq creature shredding members of the expedition brutally and pretty much at will, leaving some as only bloody smears on the ice, removing part of another’s skull to expose his brain (“It looks like pudding!,” remarks the ship’s surgeon), and tearing two others in half to crudely reassemble their bodies together.  The Tuunbaq has also demonstrated that it can move onto the English ships pretty much at will, and escape unscathed.  We’re kind of at the stage now that we were in The Thing where the men realize that the alien is inside the camp, and they’re relatively ineffective at countering it.  Composure and discipline are beginning to fall apart, just as some of the men’s gums are starting to turn black from lead poisoning brought by their spoiling and badly- packaged tinned food.

I’m not going to go on about the many complexities and layers of character and plot going on in the story, which can be appreciated on a variety of levels; we limit ourselves to just a few paragraphs here.  But central to the story and ever growing in importance is the enigmatic and appropriately-named Lady Silence, the Inuit woman whose father was accidently shot by the English in an earlier episode.  She was seen engaging in some kind of interaction with the Tuunbaq, perhaps a ritual.  Is she controlling the creature, or what is the nature of her relationship with it?  Hmmm…we’ll just have to wait and see!