Monday, January 26, 2015

The Evolution of a Movie Monster: The Judas Breed Insect from Mimic and Mimic 2

Finding copies of behind-the-scenes photos and concept art from horror and sci-fi movies can be a very difficult task. Some of the more lucrative films are extremely forthcoming in making such materials available to the public (e.g., Star Wars) but you're usually out of luck if you see something interesting in a less popular or obscure film and would love to take a closer look at it. Thankfully, the Internet is doing its part to compensate for this problem, providing search engines that can help picture hungry fans find photos of movie props and concept art in places that were not as accessible before the digital age.

For this post, I'll be looking at the evolution of the Judas Breed between Guillermo del Toro's "big bug" film Mimic (1997) and its first sequel Mimic 2 (2001). I did a post about this before when I saw some Judas Breed art posted on the deviantART site; I'm revisiting this topic using photos that I recently found online that provide a much closer look at the puppets and costumes that were used in both movies. Click below to see how a monster design changes between movies--or, to be more exact, what happens to a giant insect when it experiences budgetary downsizing.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review: Alien: The Archive and The Art of Alien: Isolation

The way I see it, good horror/sci-fi franchises spin entertaining yarns across multiple films, TV shows, novels, comic books and video games; great horror/sci-fi franchises allow their fans to see all of the hard work that goes in to making such franchises successful in their various iterations. This is why I prefer to buy DVDs and Blu-rays with ample amounts of bonus content, and why I'm still so thankful for Lucasfilm's generous releases of behind-the-scenes materials for each of the Star Wars movies and animated series. This is also why I'm still giddy over picking up the two latest books about the Alien franchise by Titan Books, Alien: The Archive and The Art of Alien: Isolation. In addition to providing insights into the production of Alien movies and video games, the books serve as a vivid reminders as to how vital the work of artists such as H.R. Giger, Ron Cobb and Jean Girard have been to the success and ongoing popularity of franchise.

Even though its 2014 publication was scheduled to coincide with the 35th anniversary of Alien, Alien: The Archive actually reads like the print companion to the Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set. Like Anthology, Archive provides detailed information about the production of each of the four films, along with pages upon pages of concept art, movie stills and behind-the-scenes photos. None of the photos or art work in Archives are on the same level of detail as the removable inserts in Ian Nathan's Alien Vault book, but that's OK--its coverage of the saga is so exhaustive that fans will be nothing but satisfied with the book's content. If you're an Alien completist like me, Alien: The Archive is a must-have.

The Art of Alien: Isolation examines the production of the latest (and greatest) entry in the series of licensed Alien video games, and it includes interviews with and concept art from the Isolation development team at The Creative Assembly. The book walks you through the creative process behind the game, and how the team went about its analysis of the first Alien in order to expand upon the world of Weyland-Yutani, its corporate competitors, and the biomechanical parasites that it covets. The content of this book goes a long way towards explaining why Isolation was a hit while its predecessor Aliens: Colonial Marines was a dud: Instead of rehashing creature, weapon and environment designs from the movies in order to make a Call of Duty-esque shooter, The Creative Assembly team put ample amounts of thought and planning into the creation of the doomed space station Sevastopol so that it fit the Alien universe where space travel is rife with greed, duplicity and decay. With such hard work and creativity behind it, Isolation has become a welcome addition to the saga--which is all the more reason why The Art of Alien: Isolation fits perfectly on the book shelf of any Alien fan.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

More Fun With Fulci: Messiah of Evil (1973)

Last September, I posted a review of Zeder, a horror film from 1983 that was directed by Pupi Avati. I spent most of the review analyzing how Zeder bears strong similarities to Lucio Fulci's "Gates of Hell" trilogy, so much so that it felt like an extension of Fulci's work. With that in mind, I recently stumbled across another movie of a similar type: Messiah of Evil (a.k.a. Dead People), a low-budget movie that was written and directed by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz in 1971 and released in 1973. Even though Messiah predates Fulci's trilogy of the damned by almost a decade, the films feel correspond to each other in ways that Fulci fans could appreciate. Read on for my complete review.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Son of Brundlefly Returns in IDW's The Fly: Outbreak

This March, IDW will publish the first of a five-issue miniseries called The Fly: Outbreak. The miniseries will take place after the events of The Fly II and Martin, the half-human/half-insect offspring of the late Seth Brundle, is still struggling to cure his mutated DNA. Yet what looks like a potential cure to his problem yields a pathogen that is capable of turning anyone into a genetically scrambled insectoid monster.

Unfortunately, Outbreak is not an adaptation of the Fly spinoff script that David Cronenberg himself wrote a few years ago but was rejected by Fox. Still, Outbreak sounds like an interesting return to a Cronenberg-esque world of body horror and human-insect hybrids, so I'll probably be picking up all five issues. I also noticed that even though the bugs that appear on the above cover of the first issue are probably supposed to be flies, they bear a passing resemblance to the larvae of another genetically modified movie bug: the Judas Breed insects from the Mimic trilogy.

A Judas Breed larva puppet from Mimic 2.