Cabin Fever Patient Zero in The Colony

The Colony and Cabin Fever: Patient Zero are currently available on instant Netflix.

The Colony

 

The Colony (2013) – Not rated

After losing contact with the only other known settlement in an icy postapocalyptic landscape, an outpost of colonists discovers a sinister threat.

Several times I have seen this film compared to John Carpenter’s The Thing yet the only thing it shares is a frozen setting. The Colony is simply a cold post-apocalyptic picture. I would take it more seriously if I hadn’t seen the similarly themed and far, far superior Snowpiercer.

The Colony stars a rather bland Kevin Zegers as our protagonist braving the cold to find out what happened to a sister outpost. He is backed up by Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton who are worth watching but play one-note characters. There was one moment where it would have been great to hear Paxton say “Game over, man, game over.” but it was not to be.

The entire story is somewhat bland and by-the-numbers. The only thing intriguing was that the film was shot in a decommissioned NORAD base so the sets were able to not look like sets. The Colony isn’t bad – it just wasn’t very interesting.

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014) – Not Rated

On a remote island, a group of vacationers stumbles upon a seemingly abandoned research facility where a deadly flesh-eating virus has been unleashed.”

I think Penny’s sick.”

Cabin Fever (2002) was a delirious rollercoaster ride and a breath of fresh air for the horror genre. It was over the top and very gross. Eli Roth is to be given all the credit as he wrote, directed, produced, and even appeared in it.

The less said about Cabin Fever 2, the better. Ti West, who directed the brilliant The House of the Devil, disowned the film following too much studio interference. It was filmed in April 2007 but didn’t even receive a release until late in 2009. It has some good ideas (method of transmission, setting) but is basically just an unadulterated mess.

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero features a single name actor. Sean Astin plays Porter, our titular Patient Zero. As might be surmised, he outshines the other actors who are almost entirely twenty-somethings chosen for their looks.

The female scientists are all hot young ladies. One of them has her lab coat open and blouse unbuttoned to emphasize her cleavage. Naturally she has to strip down to her bikini in a later scene. Don’t ask why she would be wearing a bikini under her scientist outfit.

The other people on the island are a group celebrating a bachelor party on a private island. They have a dinghy that will only travel a couple of miles and radios and phones that don’t work (surprise). The bride lets her groom go off on a boat with his friends. This would be understandable except that one of these friends is an attractive, bikini-clad young lady who used to be the groom’s boyfriend.

The plot has all kinds of nonsense like that. The facility is alternately brightly lit, really dark, or strobingly lit – all for no apparent reason. It is also laid out in a remarkably illogical manner. I think it could easily be re-used as a villain’s underground lair though.

Patient Zero is a passable waste of time for gorehounds. It may receive a little extra attention given the current Ebola crisis but in no way can be taken seriously.

 

Hatfields Ring Bag of McCoys Fire Bones

When I was a kid, I loved miniseries. Of course when I was a kid there was no HBO, no VCRs, and you could play any TV series out of order as, other than soap operas, there was no sequential storytelling. How fares the TV miniseries now? Apart from the BBC and Ken Burns (both of whom do miniseries exceedingly well), we have:

Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire (2012) – Not Rated

Stemming from a small town, a volcanic eruption triggered by an oil rig ignites a domino effect of eruptions that extends across the world, dooming all of humanity if the devastating string of explosions can’t be stopped.

Ring of Fire isn’t awful. That’s about all I can say for it. They wisely hide their budgetary limitations but shying away from CGI as much as possible. Characters often talk of events that would be shown in a big budget blockbuster. Acting is better than an Asylum movie but not by much.

If they jettisoned a few unnecessary subplots, Ring of Fire would have easily fit in a single movie slot. Also, a note to filmmakers, you don’t have to make your catastrophe global if ALL of the action is local, it comes off very silly. Shaky cam is DEAD, please let it stay that way.

Hatfields & McCoys

Hatfields & McCoys (2012) – TV-14

Close friends Devil Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy return to their neighboring homes after the Civil War — Hatfield in West Virginia, McCoy across the river in Kentucky — to building tensions and resentments that soon explode into warfare.”

Hatfields & McCoys is a very good miniseries covering the highlights of the infamous feud. The Hatfields come off as the clear aggressors in the early stages but later the McCoys are unable to put the feud behind them, mostly because they don’t feel as though they’ve gotten even.

The general storyline is fairly factual though the miniseries does up the actual body count during several of the more celebrated incidents. Hatfields & McCoys does succeed at evoking rural life in the late nineteenth century, interfamily relations, and ultimately the pointlessness of the feud.

Bag of Bones

Bag of Bones (2011) – TV-14

Reeling from the sudden death of his wife, author Mike Noonan moves into his backwoods writing retreat, only to be swept up in a supernatural conspiracy that involves a custody battle over a young girl and a vengeful ghost that haunts his house.”

Although the miniseries is often the ideal format for Stephen King adaptations (It, The Stand), Bag of Bones does not work very well. It is not a bad miniseries and Pierce Brosnan is always welcome but there is not much here to recommend. Bag of Bones merely hits the highlights of the novel and we never get invested in the characters. It either needed to be three parts or have portions of the story trimmed and altered to make it more cohesive and coherent.

Near Dark

Near Dark is currently available on Amazon Prime.

Near Dark (1987) – Rated R

“A young man reluctantly joins a traveling “family” of evil vampires, when the girl he’d tried to seduce is part of that group.”

“What you people want? ” – “Just a couple more minutes of your time, about the same duration as the rest of your life. “

Please note that I have used some of the older poster art for this film. The new art is absolutely ridiculous. They spend a good deal of time trying to make Near Dark look like Twilight, even going to the extent of making you think that the man is the vampire by changing his skin color. I seriously laughed out loud the first time I saw that art.

Near Dark was directed and co-written by Kathryn Bigelow. Yes, the Kathryn Bigelow who would become the first female to win an Oscar for Best Director (The Hurt Locker). Bigelow’s writing creates complex characters and gives you that wonderful feeling that this world existed before the movie began.

One of the best things about Near Dark is the mini-Aliens reunion. The main vampires are Lance (Bishop) Henriksen as Jesse Hooker, Jenette (Vasquez) Goldstein is Diamondback, and Bill (Hudson) Paxton is Severen. Near Dark is not as good as Aliens but Near Dark is quite good and those three actors work great together.

Honestly the three of them are the best thing about Near Dark. The leads are not bad but any time the vampire family is not on screen, you miss them. The Aliens veterans really chew up the scenery. James Cameron suggested she use his cast and Cameron and Bigelow would later (briefly) marry.

Adrian (Heroes) Pasdar is our protagonist, Caleb, who really gets to pay for hitting on the wrong girl. The quirky Jenny (Young Guns II) Wright has mixed feelings as the newly vampirized Mae. Joshua John Miller is cute as an eternally too young vampire, Homer. Genre veteran Tim Thomerson has a brief role as Caleb’s father.

Near Dark makes wonderful use of the American southwest, even more so than John Carpenter did in Vampires. Bigelow creates some incredible set pieces here, particularly a grueling yet humorous bar scene and a daylight assault on a hotel room. Action is quite good and the only thing I found lacking was the romantic plot. Tangerine Dream contributes a decent score but it is not iconic like the ones for Sorcerer or The Keep.

People Watch: James Cameron has a cameo as the man who flips off Severen.

Aliens – Second Verse Same as the First week

This week I have decided to cover the unjustly derided vehicle known as the sequel. This is Second Verse Same as the First week. Aliens is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Aliens (1986) – Rated R.

“In this acclaimed sequel, the only survivor from the first film, Lt. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), finds her horrific account of her crews fate is met with skepticism — until the disappearance of colonists on LV-426 prompts a team of high-tech Marines to investigate. This special edition features an introduction by director James Cameron, commentary by cast and crew members and both the theatrical and special edition versions of the film.”

“Game over man, game over.”

Please note that the description refers to the disc version. The instant version is the theatrical release.

Alien and Aliens are two of my all-time favorite films. While Alien is the better film (by just a smidge), it takes a long time to set up the story and mythos and even once the action starts, the movie moves in fits and spurts. Aliens with its extreme emphasis on action is the more enjoyable film.

James Cameron is an incredible director. He made three of the best action films ever made (Aliens, Terminator, and Terminator 2) as well as the blockbusters Titanic and Avatar. Every thing he touches since Piranha 2: The Spawning is apparently made of gold.

Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) completes her transformation here from Alien. Besides being the main character of a wonderful ensemble, she is also central to the theme woven throughout the film. Cameron visits and revisits aspects of motherhood throughout the production (more so in the extended version). There is a wonderful initial scene of the face of a sleeping Ripley that fades into a scene of the planet Earth.

Comedian Paul Reiser plays wonderfully against type as friendly corporate representative Burke. Genre veteran Lance Henriksen is genuinely creepy as Bishop. This is the only film child actor Carrie Henn appeared in and she is quite good (she is a schoolteacher now).

The soldiers are all great. The underrated Bill Paxton has a field day as the panicky Hicks. Michael Biehn is the quiet but ultra-competent Hudson. Jenette Goldstein steals many a scene as the uber macho Vasquez. Even William Hope is good as the hapless Lt. Gorman.

While all of the film is impressive, I think the thing Cameron does best is that he knows how to properly pace the film. After a lot of buildup (and a couple false scares to keep us interested), Cameron brings us to the best action setpiece in the movie. It is an incredibly tense confrontation between the marines and the Aliens.

The important part is that right after that is over, there are a few character beats so we can catch our breath before the next action sequence. After the following sequence, we get some very humorous dialogue especially from Hudson and then more buildup as the survivors prepare for a siege.

It is hard to believe that Cameron only had a half-dozen alien suits to work with. It seems as though there are a never-ending swarm of aliens, particularly in a sequence involving the auto sentries in the extended edition.

Well it can hardly be a surprise that I heartily recommend one of my favorite films of all time. While Cameron does spend some time setting up the story, it is like the long climb of a roller coaster before you go over the top. Once you hit the peak, the ride is utterly thrilling all the way to the end.

Thankfully Netflix presents this movie in HD. While not without flaws, the 720p image looks so much better than my DVD. This has me eagerly awaiting the 1080p Alien Blu-Ray box set due this fall.

Trivia: Kathryn Bigelow, first female to win a Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker, directed Near Dark. Near Dark features Lance Henriksen (Bishop), Bill Paxton (Hudson), and Jenette Goldstein (Vasquez) from Aliens as vampires and in one scene, the movie Aliens is playing in the background. It is an interesting film – just ignore the ridiculous new cover they gave it to make it look like Twilight.

People Watch: Mark Rolston, who plays Drake here, played Dan Erickson in Saw V and Saw VI.