Indiana-Jones-and-the-Last-Crusade

Flashback Movie Friday: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

In the immortal words of Celine Dion: It’s all coming back, it’s all coming back to me now…

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is now very evident that all of my childhood memories – hazy as they were – are actually of this film, rather than it’s superior initial instalment or the sequel. Also (perhaps) unsurprisingly, many of these same hazy memories centre on this scene:

River\

which we now know is right at the beginning and has relatively little to do with the actual plot of the film overall.

Speaking of plot, I don’t know what was going on in the film world in 1989 (I was 6 and preoccupied with Quantum Leap and my girlish crush on Sam Beckett), but it seems to me like Spielberg, Lucas and the studio got together and decided that they needed a ‘sure thing’ summer box office winner and that pumping out another Jones Film would be a sure fire way to get it. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that this is a bad film, or that I didn’t enjoy it and giggle here and there; nor am I saying that I wasn’t happy to catch up with some of my favourite characters – because I did and I was. What I am saying is, that although I enjoyed this third instalment, I think it bears mentioning that it was pretty much the same plot as the first one, except in this instance, Indy’s comic relief is his father; while the romantic lead doubling as one of the villains ensures that Indy gets to flirt outrageously with the one true love of his life – himself.

lady
Lady… you ain’t got a chance….

Let’s look at the plot of Last Crusade: We open with Indy as a child (played by the iconic River Phoenix – sigh), chasing some grave robbers across the desert and stealing back an elaborate gold cross. ‘This should be in a museum!’ he keeps crying out, as he risks life and limb to preserve the precious piece of history… funny how we are filled with the best of intentions when we’re children isn’t it? Anyway, we encounter Indy as he gets the scar on his chin and meet his father (from the neck down), all the while gathering some back ground on how and why Indiana Jones of the first two films came to be the kind of man that he is – which is to say, a bit of a cad, a bit of an arrogant dick and a bit of a grave-robbing doucher. So far so good…. but then we revert back to the college campus where present day Indy is still a bad lecturer and Marcus Brody is still popping by the classroom just before the end of session and the little girl in the front row still has ‘Love You’ written on her eye-lids in texta pen …and it all seems a bit like de-ja-vu doesn’t it?

Flash forward and we find out the Indy’s father is missing, that he was off on the trail of the cup of Christ (which Indy is sceptical about, despite having already found the Arc of the Covenant, but okay) and that Indy is probably the only man alive who can riddle out the secret code of his father’s research and find both the cup and the old man.

For his part, Indy seems to swing back and forth between wanting to go and not wanting to go, but then a smokin’ hot blonde historian and the NAZI party get involved and he comes good. Safe to say that adventure ensures and the audience is traversing many of the same locales that we got to visit in the first films.

honestly

Connery is always a solid choice for action films and father figures. I like him in most of the films I see him in (except for Entrapment… WTF was that even about?!) and I liked him in this. He does bring a good dose of comic relief to the role and, even when you’re thinking he is a complete twat, you’re often laughing along with him. I liked the scene where he is riding side-car to Indy and they have the argument about the legitimacy of the grail; but the later scene where he suddenly feels very sad that his only son has been killed in a car accident feels a bit forced. I don’t know if I can believe in parents suddenly caring deeply about their children after having spent a lifetime letting them do their own thing and having no apparent interest in them or their life choices.

sidecar
this touching side-car moment…

The NAZI’s are back as the true villains of the piece, only this time they are using the saucy blonde minx to throw both Jones Snr and Jones Jnr off their trail. They fall for it too – the pair of them – tsk, tsk boys, you should know better! Of course, the fact that the Nazi’s are back means that other characters get to put in a repeat performance, not the least of which is Sallah – and he is as fat and happy as he was in the original. Bless.

We also get a bit more guts out of Dr. Marcus Brody -who seems to be the only person in the film that considers Jones Snr the kind of friend worth having. I like Brody though, he’s cute in that bumbling and ridiculously ill-equipped way. I feel like he might have had some impact on John Hannah’s performance in The Mummy (I have a ‘thing’ with that movie though, so let’s put it aside for a later date).

It really is a bit of a boys club. Apart from blondie, even the disposable villains are blokes and they’re in no short supply, so I am not going to go into all of them here. Much like the first film, this is one of those adventure movies that works best when you just surrender to the ride. It’s not as annoying as it’s predecessor, because there are no screaming women… perhaps a reappearance from Short-Round would have been a boon though.

Retrospectively, I think I actually think the first film is better than this one, so from here on in, I might reserve my find memories of it. Best not to get ahead of myself though, we still have the 4th and (so far) final instalment to look at next week.

Side bar: Obviously I am late posting this and once again, I can only say I am sorry. This time I was trying to sort my life, which meant a trip to the Gold Coast, an interstate flight, a battle with numerous realtors and then a car trip back – all with only my mobile phone as a source of inter-webs access; and if Halloween taught us anything, it is that mobile phones cannot be trusted when writing important posts on film blogs…

doom

Flashback movie Friday: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Happy Friday, fellow sci-fi nerds! As promised, we are rolling on with the Indiana Jones saga and looking this week at the second instalment: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Unlike my experience with Raiders of the Lost Ark, I did remember snippets from this film, so I know I have seen it before. Still, those memories where nowhere near coherent enough for me to string any kind of plot together, so it was almost as good as watching it for the first time ever. Once again, I must say that I was very impressed with how well the special effects have held up on this film. I don’t know, maybe we have just gone too far with CGI in the current era, but I just love these old movies with their not quite realistic magical effects. It makes them far more fun.

Anyway, in this adventure, we once again find Indiana Jones, intrepid hero and sometimes professor of history/archaeology, stranded in the wilds of India; only this time, instead of an irate ex-lover and a delightfully jovial old friend, Indy is kept company by an orphaned Asian child and a blonde showgirl. The orphaned child is a sheer delight and provides the bulk of the comedic value of the film. The showgirl is a tiresome punish, but we will get to her later.

Unlike last time, in this adventure, Indy becomes the hero not in service of the government or for the benefit of his museum buddies – but for the benefit of an impoverished village who have had their children stolen, along with a rock/crystal, which is a source of power for them. The power of the rock is wrapped up with a few different strands of religion and mythology. Some well known Indian religious figures, such as Kali, figure into the plot, but then some of it is pure magical fantasy. That’s okay though, you won’t have much of a chance to really focus on that element of the plot – there’s too much action and too much noise going on.

I’ll come right out and say this: I did not like this chapter of the Indy story nearly as much as I liked the first one. I lay the blame for that squarely at the feet of Kate Capshaw.

See, unlike the delightful and feisty Marion Ravenwood of the first film, Capshaw’s Willie Scott is not cut out for any kind of adventure or heroism and as such, spends the majority of the film screaming, crying or scream/crying. Most exhausting. I almost think that Short Round (the orphaned child) was added in purely to balance out the fact that the love interest is so damned irritating. I get the fact that she is supposed to be this pampered showgirl that has never had a broken nail in her lift and I get that she is out of her element and is being forced (against her very strong will) to be brave… but for the love of everything holy! This woman has no sense of when to shut up! I don’t think there is a moment in the film, not even in the final credits, where she takes a moment to put things in perspective. She is far too busy focusing on herself and it is a pure let-down.

crying
by this point in time, I think Indy is wanting her to end up in the lava pit. the sheer noise she produces must be giving him a migraine. 

Despite what dragging Willie around does to the pace and entertainment value of the film, I did love the scenes in the mine cart, towards the end, where the trio must make their daring escape. The fight scene on the rope bridge is also excellent, although the alligators that are chomping up all the bad guys might have benefited from more attention in the editing room. Still, it’s nothing to get precious about.

Also unlike the first film, the sequel doesn’t have as much international travel, but don’t be fooled into thinking that the isolated location means there is any lack of action – because there isn’t. Also returning in the sequel is Indiana Jones the fumbling hero; so once again we’re seeing silly errors that a man of his intellect should be far too smart (and debonair) to make. There’s a whole extended scene in the opening sequence where Jones and Willie are chasing a poison antidote and a diamond through the bustling cabaret where pandemonium has just erupted. This scene goes on so long that I wanted to headbutt the both of them before it was over. Then there is the whole set of circumstances that gets them stranded in India to begin with… come on, Indy, put two and two together…

side bar: can someone please confirm that it is Dan Aykroyd with the uncredited cameo during the escape from Saigon?

screaming
guess who is STILL screaming…

Once again, Indiana Jones has to have some kind of romantic entanglement with his leading lady… maybe it’s his way of shutting her up? After all, it is hard to whinge when you’re sucking face with the handsome Doc Jones, but damn it, Willie puts up a strong effort. Maybe he is just taking what he can get since certain death seems to be around every corner? Maybe he needs to balance his supreme intelligence with being a cad? Anyway, I didn’t like this match from minute one. I can see what they were trying to do – making her feisty and a bit more sexually available than Marion was in the first film (trust me, there’s no thinking that Willie is the kind of girl that wants to settle down for love or that she will be holding a torn for Jones a decade after their relationship inevitably implodes), but I think she was just too annoying and the chemistry wasn’t there between Capshaw and Ford. The scene at the end where he wraps his whip about her waist and drags her towards him (kicking and whinging) feels more like Jones is wanting to punish himself than anything else. I mean, come on Indy, do you hate yourself? Get home and romance one of the dozens of buxom co-eds that are darting about just dying for you to notice them. At least they’ll be quiet.

All things considered though, I found this to be an enjoyable film (it is very long though… or seems long). It’s not something I would put on high rotation in my house and I am always going to dislike the constant whining of Willie, but at the end of the day I would happily revisit it if the mood and setting were right.Maybe a decade from now I will nostalgically watch it again… okay, half a decade.

it wont last

it’ll never last, Indy. You’re still a dick and she’s more work than any man should have to suffer.

This brings us to instalment three of the original series and, purely through my deductive powers, it is this instalment where the bulk of my hazy memories MUST be coming from. I am excited!

See you next week, my darlings, when we look at Indian Jones and the Last Crusade!

Flashback Movie Friday: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

As promised last week, we are taking the next 4 Friday’s to have a retrospective look back the Indiana Jones Quadrilogy; and thus, we kick off at the beginning with Raiders of the Lost Ark.

First things first and before we get started: it is safe to say that I have no memory of this film, so whatever film I am remembering, it must be one of the later ones, because no part of Raiders of the Lost Ark was ringing any bells. This fact actually made watching it more thrilling because it was genuinely like I was seeing it for the first time.

Next – I can’t believe this movie was made in 1981. Really, all things considered, the special effects hold up quite well (on par with Ghostbusters I would say) and the plot is as enjoyable today as any other action/adventure that is hitting the screens (Marvel Superhero franchise movies not included). Sure, the face melting scene at the end is probably not as believable as it was to the 1981 audience, but I’m a renaissance woman and I appreciate the way that it looks.

badguys
know your villains! frequently they’re members of the NAZI party and/or wearing black leather gloves and a black fedora.

In this inaugural installment of the Indiana Jones franchise we are introduced to intrepid explorer, archaeologist and adventure (and sometimes University professor) Dr. Indiana Jones. In the open scenes we see Indy tomb robbing a golden skull, which is quickly stolen from him by his arch nemesis, Rene Belloq. This scene establishes a theme which I didn’t really remember from the first time I watched the trilogy – that is, that  Indian Jones is really something of a bumbling hero. I mean, I lost count of the times he fumbled the treasure, lost a fight and generally messed up in his plans to outwit and outsmart the bad guys. To a point, this makes Indy the more human and relatable hero – but then again, there comes a time when you think ‘for goodness sake, could anything else possibly go wrong for this guy?’ It gets a bit tiresome. Still, he’s out there giving it his best shot, so I should probably cut the poor guy a break. He does get pretty beat up the the end too.

teacher
no teacher ever had such an exciting life. ever.

Indy is a bit of a dick too – in his relationships with women I mean. I don’t want to give too much away for those of you that have yet to avail yourself of this classic, but there are times when he comes off as totally harsh and a complete dick. Which brings us to of the lady of the film –

Probably the biggest disappointment for me is the scene in which Jones and Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) encounter each other for the first time after a bad break up a decade before. The acting in this scene, I felt, was very forced and not believable. Luckily, the onscreen chemistry between the pair improves as they move from the snowy mountains of Nepal to the arid desert of Cairo. By the end of the adventure, I really was feeling their romance and thought they made a cute couple (in that reunited first love kind of way).

so cute
apparently ex-lovers make the best life and death adventure partners. who knew?

I also want to take a moment to bask in the joy of John Rhys-Davies and the character Sallah. Easily he is the most loveable chap in the film. I hope we see him again in the later installments. So jovial. So lovable. Sallah may be pitched as a side kick, but he genuinely seems to have the kind of live we are all aspiring to. He has a great job, a comfortable home, laughing children and the love of a good woman. Now look at this man – this is the face of contentment.

this guy
#blessed

All in all, I did enjoy this movie. I loved the scope of it – the fact that so many locations and characters were included and that they were all relatively well-rounded. I though Marion’s wardrobe was pretty stunning (I certainly had white dress envy over the pirate ship dress and that has never happened to me) and Harrison Ford was really enjoyable as Indiana Jones… possibly, maybe even more enjoyable than Han Solo (yep, I said it).

So, next week we take on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. As I understand it, Karen Allen isn’t in this one, which must mean that her lover affair with Indy didn’t go the distance. That makes me sad in my heart, but I am going to try and not let that disappointment taint me as I go into the viewing.

For those of you playing at home, let’s bust this out together and when we reconvene next week we can discuss our feelings.

**Sorry this isn’t the usual Friday post… it’s actually a Saturday post. IT issues.

 

Raiders

Another Flashback Marathon!

Wandering around the supermarket with my mother last weekend, I once again came across the Indiana Jones Quadrilogy, neatly packaged into a single, $20, 4 in 1 case. I’ve seen this many times before and have often stopped to  considered purchasing it because, I’ll be honest, I don’t remember too much about the films; apart from the fact that I saw them one long ago day, way back in my childhood. I’ve never been a Harrison Ford fan to speak of, although that opinion has slowly begun to shift since I re-watched the original Star Wars movies earlier this year – specifically Empire Strikes Back – and it occurred to me that in his younger years there really was something to be said for Harrison Ford. In any case, this past weekend, I finally caved into temptation and walked out of Coles with that 4 in 1 multipack in my hot little hand. As a fun exercise, I thought I would re-watch all 4 movies (yes, even the last one, which I have seen and which I know is still probably going to be lame) and then review them for you here. As my memories are so dim, it will almost be like I am coming to the original films for the first time. Won’t that be exciting? Of course it will!

In any case, if you have Raiders of the Lost Ark collecting dust in you DVD collection, maybe you would like to pull it out and watch along with me on this fine Friday eve. I’ll report back on Monday with my thoughts and perhaps we can have an enjoyable chat about it?

Stephen Kings IT

Flashback Movie Friday: Stephen King’s It (1990)

Any child of the 80’s or 90’s will no doubt have a memory of watching the 1990 mini-series adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, IT. It’s also likely that you’ve suppressed that memory and  all the many  week’s worth of nightmares that went with it… not to mention the fearsof clowns that you’ve never quite understood or begun to get over. IT is one of those films which is instantly recognisable for the role of Tim Curry, who stars as Pennywise, the killer clown. Indeed, most of the people I meet in later life will recount their own childhood terror at remembering the scene where Pennywise, hiding in the drain with little Timmy’s paper boat in his hand, turns nasty and ends up tearing the boys arm off. ‘We all float down here … and when you’re down here, you’ll float too’.
Truly, the stuff nightmares are made of…

IT Kids
(The Lucky Seven/ The Losers Club (not all pictured obviously), having the best summer of their lives).

I’ve intentionally pushed Pennywise far from my memory because the first time I saw this film it was so distressing I didn’t know what to do with myself. However, last week I stumbled across a news story about the remake that is planned for 2017 (starring none other than our new crush, Bill Skarsgård – told you he’d be taking over in no time at all ) which made me curious to revisit the original. I had a vague recollection of the ending being a bit of a disappointment, but that has also been eclipsed by that scene with Beverly in the bathroom, with the blood all over her; blood that her alcoholic, abusive father seems blind to. *horrific* Reading about the planned re-make made me a bit defensive over the original and thus, I knew that much like the Loser’s Club, I too had to go back to Derry and face my fears. Surprisingly, I got a lot out of it.

all seven
(The whole gang – bonding in their mutual terror)

Considering the scope of the story – it can only be described as epic really – I think the writers of the mini-series did a decent job of getting it into television format. My one criticism is probably that the film isn’t long enough and would have benefited from a third instalment (how often can we say that and mean it?). This would have allowed the writers to touch a bit more on the story of the main cast as both kids and as adults, because there are times throughout when it does feel a bit rushed. A prime example would be the lack of development around why, as their adult selves, none of the Lucky Seven can really remember their experiences as children. This concept pops up here and there throughout the mini-series, but it’s never fully explained and doesn’t take on the same level of importance as it does in the novel.

Additionally, the final confrontation between the adult Lucky Seven (who are by this time reduced to five) seems to be all too brief. So much build up and not much bang, as it were. In a similar vein, the sub-plot with Bill’s wife, Audra, seems a bit pointless due to the fact that it is so underdeveloped. Are they happily married? Is she having an affair? Did she have an affair? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions.

Im not seeing it though
I don’t know about this decision. I mean, he too pretty and *gulp* too young. Sorry handsome, baby Skarsgård, you is too, too beautiful to be Pennywise. 

Despite these plot issues and some poorly aging special effects, I  do think the 1990 version of IT holds up pretty well. Certainly I enjoyed it on a very different level watching it as an adult than I did when I was younger and, to be honest, I found that the 3 hour run time really flew by because I was so caught up in the story. I am sure I’m not alone in thinking that Stephen King films, much like his books, can be hit and miss adventures. When they’re good (Misery, Pet Semetary, The Shining, Christine, Carrie) they’re very good but when they’re bad (Tommy-knockers, Langoliers, The Stand) they’re bloody awful. Happily, this one fell (for me) clearly on the side of ‘very-good’.

Although the casting involves some familiar faces, John Ritter and a very young Seth Green are two examples, there’s no one that is so famous that they eclipse the rest of the ensemble and that is really beneficial to the viewer. Tim Curry is barely recognisable as the clown and so he too, is able to deliver a terrifying performance which is not obstructed by his very recognisable face. Rather than seeing the celebrity, you’re actually seeing the characters and in a film of this length that is essential to the success.

jonathan-brandis-IT-quote
(Vale – Jonathan Brandis)

When I watch this now though, it is with a sadness, because Jonathan Brandis stars as young Bill. Although I was never one of those rabid Seaquest DSV fans, I was a Brandis fan (Side-Kicks, guys and don’t even get me started on LadybugsGENIUS); and was very very sad to hear that he killed himself in 2003 at the age of 27. He was such a talent and it was such waste.

Pennywise
It’s moments like this that are responsible for Coulrophobia…

Before IT became a mini-series it was of course, a novel. At well over 1,250 pages, quite a novel it is too. I believe the book jacket even describes it as epic – as if the sheer weight of it isn’t enough of a tip-off. It’s been a decade since I read the book, but I do remember it scaring me perhaps more than any other Stephen King novel has managed to do (close second to Pet Semetary) and despite the length, I managed to knock it over relatively quickly – which is always the marker of a good novel. If you’re going to invest in the mini-series (and I hope you do), I would also heartily recommend having a go at the book. I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly it pulls you in and (arguably) it gives the film a bit more context.

Obviously, you’re not going to spend your Friday night reading – but I do hope you’ll go home and give this a re-watch. It costs about $7.99 to buy on iTunes, which is a good investment in my opinion.

Ultimately, I don’t know what’s going to happen with the re-make of IT or if I will even like it (look, The Shining remake was pretty average in my opinion) but I am going to try and retain some hope and optimism that young Skarsgård can ruin the dreams of a whole new generation of youngsters. Until that happens in 2017 and 2018 respectively, we’ll just have to hang our bad dreams on the original…

see you in your dreams
Can’t wait….

Comic Con – Part 1

comic-con

It the most wonderful time of the year! San Diego Comic Con! The weekend where all of your nerd dreams come true, and your cinema viewing schedule for the next 5-10 years is sorted. There are cosplays, special effects demos, cool famous people hanging out with other cool famous people, and if you’re one of the lucky ducks attending the event, there is a meet and greet with your fav at best, and a swag of merch at worst.

Yay, Comic Con!

This post will be the first of two about Comic Con. In this one I’m going to list all of the things I’m hoping to see/have announced this year, and the second post will be after Comic Con (next weekend – July 21st to 24th), a recap of events, and what I loved/hated.

Ready? Ok!

Warner Bros. panel –

I can tell you right now the Warner Bros. panel alone is going to add 10+ years to my life span. The main focus of the 2 hour panel is going to be Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad. This means that it is highly likely we will be getting the first official trailer for Wonder Woman. I am so keen. SO KEEN. I am going to annoy everyone around me with how keen I am. I am just so excited that this film is finally happening, and what little I’ve seen of sneak peaks and set pics so far, I am confident that its going to live up to expectations. Exceed them, even. Diana’s cameo in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice was incredible, and dispelled any doubts I had about her film adaptation or the casting of Gal Gadot. The fact that we are getting an entire movie, just of her, is a dream come true, as I’m sure the film will make little girls all over the world dreams come true. Her solo outing is long overdue.

In addition to this, there are rumours that the cast of the Justice League will make a surprise visit at the panel, which means its also likely that we may get a sneak peak at that too, since the film is currently in the middle of production.

Marvel Studios panel –

Not going to lie, I don’t really have high expectations for Marvel’s panel this year. I would love some more news about Thor 3 Ragnarok, but as it has just commenced production on the Gold Coast (sadly many hours away from me, no opportunity for scoping out the set) I doubt there will be any visits from the cast, or any footage. Ultimately I would love the entire panel to be about Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (fingers crossed for a trailer!) but I think the main focus will be on Doctor Strange, and the new Spider Man solo film, and honestly I don’t know which one bores me more. Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised and will be able to give you guys a “I Love Marvel Again” post.

Power Rangers panel –

I don’t think I’ve made a post about how excited I am about the fact that Power Rangers is getting a film reboot in 2017, which is remiss of me, because I’m really excited. I promise to make a post about it once we know a bit more, because as of yet there hasn’t been much news except for a casting announcement and a group promo pic. Hopefully that will change after Comic Con because they do have a panel, and we are sure to get some kind of sneak peak.

American Gods panel –

You may have heard that they are making Neil Gaiman’s book, fan favourite American Gods into a TV series. Word on the street is there will be a preview of what to expect in the upcoming season, and several members of the main cast will be in attendance. Heck yes!

Star Trek panel –

2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the series premiering, so its sure to be quite the party. This panel is not for the reboot film being released later this month, but for the older series’ as well as the upcoming TV series, hitting screens in 2017, produced by one of my favourite people of all time, Bryan Fuller.
What are you guys most looking forward to? Are any of you attending? Stay tuned for Part 2 after Comic Con!

Hemlock Grove

Pilot: Hemlock Grove

Dark and disturbed gentlemen with wonderful hair, inappropriate student/teacher relationships, wandering gypsies; and a healthy dose of sex, murder and intrigue… could this, at long last, be the perfect show for me? On Netflix, I am coming to discover that anything is possible.

I finally came to Hemlock Grove while I was home visiting my family last week. I had heard about it somewhere a while ago and it was one of those television shows I made a mental note to look into at a later date, when the burdens of full-time work and study were not weighing so heavily upon me. Now, finding myself having a spare week with very little else to do, it seemed like an ideal time to get this item off the bucket list; and so it was I found myself marathoning season one on Netflix (which I am still getting familiar with, but with which I might be developing a full-time love affair). And so, I commenced on a journey to Hemlock Grove, a pretty little town somewhere in Pennsylvania, where a treasure trove of weird and damaged characters were awaiting me.

It’s an interesting cast as well as a mishmash of well-known horror/sci-fi themes that hold Hemlock Grove together. From the get-go we’re seeing death by animal attack, possible vampirism and possible lycanthropy; as well the inference that questionable medical experiments are being conducted and that there may be a reliance on some kind of hallucinogenic drug. Admittedly, that’s a lot to take in. Still the pilot manages to present all of these without causing you to feel swamped. A lot of this is achieved through inference and subtle asides between characters.

The Writer
(dark and disturbed characters are going to integral to this plot line. this one is the resident author).

Although I don’t immediately recognise any of the actors in the pilot, except for the ageless and amazing Lili Taylor, there is something about the lead male that seems familiar to me. But we’ll get to him in a moment. I am super excited that Taylor makes an appearance as a slightly white trash type mother  (she’s actually a legit Gypsy – of the Romanian stock – but I am slow on the uptake) and that gives me hope because I love her and am envious of the stellar career she has had starring in numerous sci-fi/supernatural/horror outings. If ever there was a woman that had the experience to play this kind of show, I think to myself, it is Taylor. But back to the elusive leading man. I spend most of the pilot puzzling over him and the familiarity of his forehead, until it finally hits – where I think I know him from – but it’s not him exactly, it is his kinfolk that are ringing my bells…

Members of the Skarsgard family seem to be popping up everywhere these days. This time it is youngest son of Stellan and brother to Alexander, Bill Skarsgard and he’s playing Roman. He’s the guy with the amazing hair that I was referring to earlier. He’s got pretty much the same cool exterior that have made his brother and father so popular, so I guess we’ll be seeing him a lot in the not too distant future. I am not sure if Roman is going to turn out to be a hero or a villain here. I am also not too sure that Roman knows if he’s light or dark side yet. That’s the joy of youth I guess, you get to flip flop back and forth between to the two until you decide which one fits you better. In any case, he plays it well, with that same kind of sullen intensity that made Erik Northman so lovable in the early seasons of True Blood (I gave up mid-season 3 and with the third book as it happens, so I can’t talk to the whole series).

In any case, all coldly beautiful leading men need to have someone to balance them out. In this case, that is Peter, the literal Gypsy who is quickly established as a possible werewolf and certainly as an all-round bad boy. When Roman is cold and immaculate, Peter is warm and scruffy. (Just once, I would love to see the mould broken and have a scruffy vampire but today is not that day). If this were real life, I can guarantee you, I would be all up in Peter’s grill from second one. Forget about being the high school outsider, Peter, I’ll be your friend, even if you do have dirty hair and longish nails. I like that in a man. Also, your stolen leather jacket is bad-ass.

These two
(look at these two, they don’t know which one is the true bad boy. in reality they’re just two halves of the same whole).

Speaking of high school outsiders, sometimes I wish life were as interesting as it is in television high schools like the one in Hemlock Grove, or the one in Buffy. Alas, I have never been privy to the kind of school that hosts the giant mutant girl, the half vampire boy or the wandering gypsy loner. Real life, it seems, is rarely so interesting. That’s a pretty harsh conclusion, I realise. Perhaps it is more fair to say that as inhabitants of the real world we must learn to seek out excitement in different ways or readjust our perspectives on what has previously been consigned to the mundane. I’ll make sure I add ‘attitudinal change’ to my bucket list.

There is something of a murder mystery sub-plot going on in Hemlock Grove, but that isn’t really developed too much in the pilot, so if you’re expecting some kind of supernatural thriller/mystery with a murder at the core – think again. As far as episode 1 is concerned, no good looking/mysterious law enforcement officers have even show up yet. This is not as closely related to Twin Peaks as the direction, colour scheme and score would have as believe. On the positive side, this appears as if it’s going to be a slow burn, with multiple side plots, love triangles and uncomfortable sexual liaisons. I don’t mind a slow burning plot line, I find that it’s often more rewarding; I don’t know about the rest of you Netflix viewers.  All things considered, I think I might be fond of this show. It reminds me of a teen accessible version of Penny Dreadful in some ways. Not as much graphic nudity or sex, but time might change that. Oh, and this is obviously not set in Victorian England, but the hamlet of Hemlock Grove certainly has that perpetual winter feel. In both cases there’s a lot of supernatural stuff going on, people are having ‘feelings’ about each other and the future and mythical bogeymen certainly seem to be lurking in the shadows. I think Upir is a nice twist on the vampire mythology that’s been swamping teen drama for a few decades. I feel less excited about the werewolf concept, but we’ll see how it plays out.

After one episode, I’m not entirely comfortable enough to trust the involvement of Eli Roth though. I keep waiting for something to jump out of the back ground and gross me out. I guess I still just don’t really don’t know how I feel about Eli Roth overall. Sometimes he is amazing and sometimes her freaks me the fuck out. He’s a bit like M. Night Shyamalan in that I am frequently put off by some of his subject content, but I always seem to go back to him. Since this is a TV show rather than a horror film, I’m trying to be quietly confident that in this instance I’ll be leaning more towards awesome than freakish.

This girl
(After episode one, I feel like this is going to be my favourite character. I don’t know why. She’ll probably end up being the most tragic, but that’s okay. I’m going to see how they play out the gentle, deformed giant girl).

The dangerous thing about Netflix is that it almost pushes you to binge-watch this type of television series. It’s kind of like a dare, but you’re only ever really daring yourself. And so here were are, an entire generation of internet babies, binge-watching television serials about people interacting, falling in love, living and dying; watching them all alone and wondering why our lives are not so exciting.