Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Directors: Wes Craven

The Directors: Wes Craven

I've been watching this series created by the American Film Institute, where they profile various directors that have made a big impact on Hollywood. So far I've checked out Steven Spielberg (of course), Rob Reiner, Ron Howard, and a couple others.

What probably drives my enjoyment of these short documentaries is my love of the director themselves, or the actors that are interviewed. But at the same time, when I watched the one for a guy that was in Monty Python, I had seen next to none of the films mentioned but I still found it a really fascinating documentary.

Now, with Rob Reiner and Steven Spielberg my intense love for their movies really helped. But even Ron Howard had a lot of things to say about the way he worked, and the actors interviewed gave me great insights into what makes a director they want to work with again.

I can't say that about the Wes Craven volume I just watched. In the end, I had seen next to none of his movies. After a bad experience watching Nightmare on Elm Street as a six year old, I never watched any of the Freddy Kreuger movies. I saw The Serpent and the Rainbow and found it pretty darn boring. The only movies that they discussed that I really cared about were Scream and Scream 2. Both of them only got a really cursory examination.

It was pretty interesting to learn about Craven's background in academics, but in the end I didn't really learn anything. The actors didn't have much to actually contribute much besides a neat talk about how Robert England tried to protray Freddy as a "dark trickster" I think it was.

On the whole, I would only tell really big fans of Craven to pick it up. Even if you just like directors or the Hollywood process, there are others out there.

Dawn of the Dead

Dawn of the Dead

Last night Cyn, Shoka, and I got together to watch Dawn of the Dead, one of THE zombie movies. Also a movie that along with Night of the Living Dead changed the genre of horror in America.

I would like to formally hit George Romero with a tennis racket for that. He changed us from a society that got the proper heebie jeebies from Vincent Price's creepy laugh, to a bunch of teenagers begging for the next bloody corpse. Yay, bloody violence!

Sure, violent movies have their place. I for one really enjoyed Resident Evil and it's sequel. But the thing is, I wasn't scared by them. I liked the action, not the blood and intensines. I think Shaun of the Dead is one of the best movies I've seen in ages, but that's despite the gross disembowling, now because of it.

Now that I've got that out of the way, I'll just say Dawn of the Dead does not equal frightening or scary in the least. Guess I'll have to go and get kicked myself for saying it.

Romero did have a vision, and it was an interesting one. The parallels between consumer culture and zombies were a very nice touch. But we were also beaten in the head with them until even the most inattentive moviegoer would get it. Okay, shoppers = zombies. Got it, please please move on.

The idea of building your own little hiding place inside a mall was brilliant and well executed. But when it started to get interesting and we realize that these three people are going to go nuts by themselves, random raiders show up and spoil the character development by having a pie fight with the zombies.

Sure, it was really funny to see that some people had figured out how to deal with zombies, by just moving faster than them. I think that's one thing most zombie movies never really think of, that we've got several distinct advantages over the undead.

Oh, and to quote Randy in Scream, a movie that found a good balance between story and gore, "They got the blood wrong. It's too red!"

Maybe it's just the jaded eyes of a later generation, but while I felt Dawn of the Dead is worth watching for it's cinematic contribution, as a story and a film on it's own it's not really the best. Yes, you have to remember that it was one of the first and that many films rely on the stage set by Romero's trilogy. But you also have to realize that one of the brilliant things about movies and art is that those that come later often take a formula and improve on it, honing it into something even better.

I'm glad I sat and watched Dawn of the Dead, but I don't think I'll ever watch it again. I would reccomend it to anybody that likes to poke fun and laugh at movies, as we had a great time imitating the characters as they got stupider and stupider.