By G. Michael Dobbs
Before looking at two new DVD releases, I want to urge people who enjoy horror films, even casually, to consider seeing "The Cabin the Woods" in theaters right now.
Why? Because occasionally a genre film comes along so well written, so intriguing that it becomes something truly significant in popular culture.
"Cabin" is a film like "The Sting" or "The Usual Suspects" or "Sleuth." You can't discuss the plot very much without potentially damaging the experience audiences will have.
In fact, the trailer for "Cabin" gives a little bit more away than what I think the producers should have allowed. This is a movie that called for a trailer that didn't give away a thing.
So, what I can say is that "Cabin" starts out looking like two movies you've already seen a million times and then it quickly shifts into a gear you didn't know existed.
"Cabin" has quite a pedigree. Its script was written by wonder kids Joss Whedon (who wrote and directed the new "Avengers" movie) and Drew Goddard (who wrote TV shows such as "Lost" and "Alias" and the movie "Cloverfield"). Goddard also directed this film.
The film was shot in 2009 and apparently sat in the shelf as the studio wanted to convert it to 3-D over the objections of Whedon and Goddard. Good for them! The 3-D wouldn't have added a thing to the film.
For a cinematic experience that will definitely surprise and amaze, see "The Cabin in the Woods" on the big screen.
I expected very little from this low-budget horror comedy on the cable channel FEARNet, but I have to admit this wacked out version of "Scooby Doo" minus a large dog is actually pretty funny.
The premise is the high school slacker and would-be metal rock god, Todd, and his pals discover there are Satanists in their sleepy town who are determined to get their prized possession back, the Book of Pure Evil.
The book has other ideas, though, and flies around like a bird seeking high school students with unfulfilled wishes. The book will grant the wishes, but there is always a hideous price to pay.
Todd's group is attempting to capture the book in order to destroy it, but is thwarted at least in part by Atticus Murphy, the high school guidance counselor who is actually part of the Satanist cult.
The show doesn't flinch in its depiction of the havoc raised by the book. It gets pretty bloody at Crowley High School. The show, though, can be pretty clever as well. I particularly enjoyed the episode in which Murphy writes a heavy metal musical depicting his conflict over being a Satanist.
The only person with any name value in the cast is Jason Mewes as the high school janitor. His contributions, at least in the season one collections, are minimal.
For people who are willing to a different vein of comedy yes that's a pun "Todd and the Book of Pure Evil" is a fair amount of fun.
In a popular culture in which vampires can cutest romantic makeover, it's refreshing to see a standard spooky element such as ghosts get a new look but in the opposite direction.
The ghosts in this BBC horror drama are not just apparitions and they just don't make noise or move furniture. These spirits want to kill people.
The premise behind the show is that ghosts or "Fades" as the characters call them, don't all go someplace else. Many stay on Earth for eternity and they go nuts.
There is a group of people calling themselves "Angelics" who can see them and what they are seeing is pretty frightening. The Fades now are becoming whole and able to touch and kill in this world.
All of this is very disturbing to one 17 year-old named Paul who has enough on his plate. He's undergoing therapy for several issues. His twin sister hates him and he and his best friend are the school's geeks. Seeing killer ghosts is not something he wants to do.
Yet he is recruited into this group because he has an amazing power to heal and to see the future in his dreams.
This is pretty compelling television, even though I find the pacing a bit slow. The reinvention of ghost is an attention-getter and the show's young star, Iain de Caestecker, makes Paul a sympathetic character.
There is a surprising amount of violence in the show, so be forewarned. If you're looking for something truly different in the supernatural, check out "The Fades."
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