Saturday, October 3, 2015

Horror Review #2-3 - Night of the Wild (2015), Daybreakers (2009)

Two reviews tonight, to keep me up to date on my Horror-movie-review-a-thon's 31 days of horror movie reviews.  Let's start with Daybreakers, because I'm watching Night of the Wild on Syfy right now.

Daybreakers (2009) is a movie about vampires.  In the year 2019, Vampires have taken over the world.  Nearly every human has been bitten, sucked on, and turned into a fellow vampire.  In this movie, every human bitten turns into a vampire, so basically the entire population of the earth is either already a vampire, or food.  Pockets of human resistance remain in hiding, sought out by teams of vampire hunter-soldiers.  Vampires are searching for a synthetic substitute for blood, but so far, haven't found one yet.  That means, the supply of human blood is quickly running out.  Enter Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), the vampire researcher in charge of looking for the synthetic blood substitute, who stumbles upon a group of humans looking for vampires sympathetic to their cause.

I don't normally like vampire movies, but this one is a little different.  First off, all the vampire-turning and the melodrama associated with that has already happened before the movie even starts.  Vampires aren't the unusual thing in this movie, they're the norm.  One of the best parts early on is a scene where a bunch of normal-looking humans are standing around waiting for the subway at night, and a train goes by on the other track.  In the middle of the group is Edward Dalton, puffing on a cigarette.  The shadow of the passing train envelops the group of people in darkness, and all you can see of them are their silhouettes and their glowing eyes.

Ethan Hawke plays Edward Dalton, the vampire scientist looking for a cure, and he's the lead actor.  Supporting cast includes Sam Neill as the evil guy in charge of the corporation looking to fund the synthetic blood, but doesn't really want it for himself, because he prefers human blood.  Willem Dafoe plays 'Elvis,' a former vampire turned human, who helps Edward in his quest for a cure.  The rest of the supporting cast includes dozens of random vampires who are slowly starving to death, turning into savage half-bat vampire-hobos as their hunger turns their vampiric bodies into killing machines on the hunt for blood.  I'm guessing the movie had a good budget, due to the supporting cast, various location shoots and slightly-futuristic tech in the year 2019.

This movie wasn't the best vampire movie ever made (an understatement to be sure), but it's interesting for two main reasons.  One is, the vampiric powers normally associated with vampires (turning into bats, unable to be caught on camera, etc) are actually hindrances for the vampires in this movie.  When the entire populace is all vampires, turning into a bat is so unnecessary that normal vampires don't even know how to do it anymore, and are terrified when they run into a starving vampire that is half-mutated into a bat.  Newscasters can't broadcast, nor can vampires see themselves in a mirror, so technology had to be invented to overcome this.  It's like vampires were never intended to overcome humanity, so when they did, they had no idea how to adapt.

The second reason I like this movie is 'the cure.'  I'm not going to give anything away, in case anyone wants to look for this movie on Syfy (where I saw it), but I like how the cure comes about.  It's like it was built into the human race, and maybe it was, because this movie draws on real biology to come up with a cure, without getting bogged down in the details of it.  As I said, I can't really go into details without giving away the movie, but I just thought it was interesting how the cure worked out.

As an aside here, let me just say that Sam Neill is possibly the most underrated actor to ever grace a horror movie, and has probably been in every horror movie I have ever seen.  Event Horizon? Check.  In The Mouth of Madness?  Check.  Sure, the Jurassic Park series may be what he's best known for, but he's also played opposite Nicole Kidman (Dead Calm), Sigourney Weaver (Snow White: A tale of Terror), and even Robort Redford (the Horse Whisperer) and the late Robin Williams (Bicentennial man).  Those last two were admittedly not horror movies, but the man has such a range of talent that he probably played every single role in The Shining, and we just haven't figured it out yet.  And yes, I can see Scatman Crothers talking about 'the shining' with little Danny, and suddenly pulling off his latex rubber mask, and revealing the evil, grinning face of Sam Neill.  Shit, if I was Danny, I'd probably have shat myself.  I'm sure he did the voiceovers for Danny's little finger (Rrrrrredrrrrumm), and through the magic of hollywood, even played the two creepy little girls ("Come play with us!  Play with us... for eeevvvvveeerrrrrrrrr...").  I bet you didn't know Shelley Duvall was actually one of Sam Neill's aliases, did you?  Well, now you do.  Jack Nicholson?  He doesn't actually exist.  Jack's just the identity Sam Neill uses when he's on a bender.

Next up is Night of the Wild (2015) a brand new Asylum production.  Yes, I know, this is a Syfy movie, and they do so love those crappy Asylum flicks.  Night of the Wild is about a meteorite that explodes in contact with earth's atmosphere, and showers an entire town with meteorite fragments.  These fragments glow green, give off odd vapors, and seem to really piss off the local dog population.  Since the entire town and surrounding forest seem filled with pet dogs and wild dogs, this presents a problem for the humans, which quickly become dog food.  Think Hitchcock's 'The Birds,' only with dogs instead.  There's also a lot more barking, human dismemberment, and ...  well, about the same amount of screaming, I think.

Rob Morrow (of Northern Exposure fame) and Kelly Rutherford star in it.  Kelly Rutherford looks familiar to me for some reason, but after looking through her list of movies on IMDB.com, I can't figure out why.  The rest of the cast is only there to be eaten, I think.  There's a lot of dogs in this movie.  In fact, I think the entire cast of 101 dalmatians is in it.  I mean, they're probably been out of work since that movie, so I can understand why they'd need to bring home the bacon, because...  wait, what?  101 Dalmatians was animated?  The dogs in that movie weren't real?  Shit.  Well.  I swear I just saw a dalmatian.  I just assumed...  oh well.

This movie starts out with the action pretty early on, and doesn't really let up til the end, so in that respect, there's not a lot of suspense and buildup.  We get right into the action, and I like those kinds of movies.  Sure, suspense is great if you have a good plot and good actors, but that's pretty rare, especially in an Asylum flick.  It's good that they get right into the action.  They are playing on their strengths.  I'm not sure how real the special effects in this movie are.  It's possible they just hired a lot of actors, bought a lot of dogs, and then didn't feed the dogs for a while.  Then, they started the cameras rolling, and let the dogs loose.  That would be a decent movie, if they didn't mind losing the lead actors here and there.  I'm joking, of course.  I'm sure every effort was made to ensure the safety of the lead actors, and probably the dogs, too.  So, if they lost a few animals (or people) to rabies, that's just a hazard of the fame and fortune that comes with acting!  I'm sure Rob Morrow knows what I am talking about, because I sure as hell don't.

Well, that's all we have for our Saturday night double feature!  I've just noticed that Netflix has the latest Chucky movie (yes, they broke that old series out of storage), so I'm probably going to review that movie tomorrow night.  Looking forward to it, actually.  Three days into October, three movies reviewed!  Can I review one movie for each day in October?  Who knows!  I guess we'll find out!  Til next time, or until I epic fail!

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