No Creature Double Feature

Spaced, the tv series by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (the team behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) was just released in the good ol UsofA this past Tuesday. The fucker is sold out everywhere, even It’s been available in other countries for years and people have been clamoring for it here for just as long, myself included, but it looks like I’ll have to wait a little while longer.

I have found that there was a 7-disc Toxic Avenger box set released by Troma in April. It includes all four movies, all 13 episodes of the Toxic Crusaders cartoon, Apocalypse Soon-a documentary about the making of the original Avenger, and loads of other junk. I believe I’ll put my funds down for that in the meantime. I haven’t seen any of those movies since the old USA Up All Night days so it’ll be interesting to say the least.


Enough about all that nonsense, let’s get to the movies!!!


The first thing I like about The Ruins is the opening scenes. The first 20 minutes or so you’d think came from one of those terrible looking National Lampoon’s direct to video turds that fill the shelves at the video stores. The shift in tone is so sudden and creates such a dynamic that it’s a little unsettling and definitely keeps you interested.

The plot, being rather thin, is a group of four twenty-somethings on vacation in Mexico hear of archaeological site in the jungle of a real Mayan temple. They go to check it out. Shit goes down. To tell more really would be doing the film a disservice, but if you’ve seen the trailer you know that it involves lethal plantlife and lots and lots of psychological trauma.


There is where the film succeeds. The cast is small and filled with very capable actors who play their parts flawlessly. This is, more than anything else, simply a survival film with sprinkles here and there of supernatural overtones. The killer vine is the reason that they are stuck on the temple, but it never foreshadows the characters or makes you forget the fact that these are very realistic people in a likely situation, that of being stuck in a foreign land and held prisoner with no probable chance of survival.


The Ruins doesn’t pull any punches with the gore, either. There’re only a couple of scenes that go this route but when it does it makes you feel it. This is a pretty damn good movie and well worth your time. I’ve read the book it’s based on so my perspective was a bit different going in than it would be for most people who probably haven’t read it. I’m not going to do a side by side book to film comparison but I will say that if you’ve read it you should give the movie shot too because there is enough that deviates from the original material to keep you interested and engaged in the film.



I’m going to have to tell you that you must see this one. A ’signal’ invades the airwaves of all electronic devices (phones, tvs, radio, etc…) and anyone who stares or listens to the signal is basically reprogrammed to give in to their most primal and violent urges. The film was put together by three directors and it is broken into three segments, or ‘Transmissions,’ with each one directed by a different person. All three transmissions tell one continuous story, or at least portions of the same story from different points of view, but you will notice a difference in tone with each one.


This is definitely a pretty violent horror flick, with a strong impact due to the fact that there is time spent letting you get to know the characters. It starts with the insanity pretty early on but the directors know what they’re doing so they make sure that you don’t feel like you’re watching a movie filled with throwaway characters.


The closest thing I can think to compare it to is 28 Days Later for the idea alone. That film was more or less a zombie movie, though, and this one feels nothing like any zombie movie I’ve seen. The main difference being that in a zombie film you obviously know based on appearance who are zombies and who isn’t. In The Signal you have no idea if someone is crazy until they show it by snapping and attacking everyone around them.


That theme is played with throughout, especially in the second segment, which has the largest tone shift from straight horror into a sort of dark comedy. You’re left constantly wondering if the people in the movie actually are not infected and only attack other people when they are threatened, or if they indeed are infected and the people they’re attacking are innocent victims.


That is what makes this so excellent. It is a smart, creative horror film that plays on the ideas of trust and paranoia that are supposedly an inherent part of our society today. I don’t buy into that bullshit, I just think of it as a solid piece of work, but if you live in constant fear of terrorists blowing up your Wal-Mart then you’ll be mortified after seeing this.


Very very fucking highly recommended, if you don’t see this, you are nuts.



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