Web Crush Wednesdays: Blinky500

Ready for a spoooooky Web Crush?

zombie-anime-fangirlsBlinky500 is a YouTube user who makes short films with an emphasis on horror and thrillers. Many of his movies are fan films, like character studies of popular horror icons, but he creates original pieces as well. I first came across the channel one or two years ago when one of his fan films came up in my recommendations box. While I don’t remember which film I watched first, I remember thinking that they were all pretty excellent. For example, this Friday the 13th prequel is better than any of the actual studio films in the Friday the 13th series:

I don’t have much respect for the Friday the 13th series, to be honest, so I didn’t feel any level of protectiveness over the source material when watching this. Even so, I felt that the work honored the original very well. The focus on the original killer, Pamela Voorhees, is welcome since she actually had a purpose when she killed in the first film: she was avenging her son, Jason. When Jason took over in the sequels, however, he very quickly became a simple killing machine who was frightening but not the least bit interesting. It’s great to see a killer with some actual character because it makes the movie that much more engaging. Even if it’s just a short eight-minute movie, it makes a more compelling tale than most, if not all, of the official movies in the series.

Now, I don’t just like Blinky’s movies when they improve on a source I feel to be weak. As you may know, I am a huge fan of the Nightmare on Elm Street series and feel very protective of it. Therefore, when I found his film KRUEGER (A Tale from Elm Street), I was more than ready to criticize it, but it completely surpassed my high expectations. The script, characterization, pacing, and score were all excellent and made the short film as good as any canonical entry in the Elm Street series.

The original content is of equally high quality. His originals often deal with psychological issues and they are quite interesting. There are a couple of films which deal with suicide and have very difficult content to watch. I’m not sure I completely agree with the presentations, but they make me think and I feel that makes them worthwhile watches. On the one hand, they both encourage valuing life and resisting self-harm, which is a great message, but on the other hand, they have a sense of vilifying suicidal thoughts which doesn’t sit quite right with me. I won’t embed the videos here, as they may be triggering, but the one I thought was most interesting can be found here.

The movies on Blinky500’s page are varied to say the least. There is a lot of horror, some comedy, and a few psychological thrillers. Hard to digest at times, but overall very well-done, the movies are of a quality much higher than what one may expect from a small independent company whose films stream for free on YouTube. I highly recommend this channel.

Fan Film: Scream Fan

Happy October everyone! Once again it’s that wonderful month when all of my posts focus on spooky topics in preparation for Halloween. Today, I’d like to share a short fan film I came across recently, Scream Fan, by YouTube user ryanhorror.

The short film is based on the Scream series by Wes Craven, but exists in the “real world” as opposed to the Scream universe, meaning that the Scream movies are just movies in this film, not actual events. If you’re not familiar with Scream, get your butt over to Netflix and find it it’s a 90’s horror movie in which the characters are Genre Savvy and the movie itself is very clever, funny, and scary. To many horror fans, it also signified the end of the “slasher” films by influencing following films to be similarly witty and satirical. The movie was followed by two sequels, the last of which was released in 2000, making it the trilogy which essentially began and ended the 90’s horror revival.

That is, until 2011, when a fourth installment was released. Many fans, myself included, didn’t greet the news of another film with thunderous applause. We were led to believe that the Scream story was complete and that it was that rare horror series which knew when to stop. The whole theme of the third movie (since, again, the characters know the tropes of their genre) was that it was the concluding chapter of a trilogy and everyone knew it. How could there possibly be another installment after such an excellent conclusion? I honestly don’t know, because I skipped seeing number four in theaters and still haven’t gotten around to renting or buying the DVD.

…and that’s exactly what this fan film is about.

In this quick movie, the killer is targeting Scream fans who “turned [their] back on Scream” and skipped seeing the fourth movie. The killer is a super fan who cannot and will not accept that the latest movie didn’t reach the success of its predecessors and is ready to punish everyone responsible for this fact.

I’m honestly amazed by how well this film is done. In such a short amount of time, true suspense was created and everyone involved should be very proud of their work. It stays very true to the spirit of the Scream films with a genre savvy lead and a killer who toys with the target over the phone long enough to build tension and develop a connection with the audience before finally getting to the action between the two. Both performers in the film do a great job with their roles and keep the viewer engaged throughout.

Give the film a watch, it only takes eleven minutes out of your day and it’s a great way to get yourself ready for the spookiest month of the year! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go rent Scream 4 before I get a phone call from you know who…

Scream Ghostface

Son of a Hundred Maniacs—A Fanfilm

I was browsing through some Nightmare on Elm Street videos to include in my final “Women of Elm Street” post about Nancy and came across some promos for this fanfilm that looks pretty great and worth sharing. The post on Nancy will be coming later; I just want to make sure I take time and do justice to my heroine.

The movie appears to be focusing on Fred Krueger prior to his death and eventual reincarnation as the dream killer of the official movie series. Judging by the contemporary look of the trailer, I think this may not be a timeline-accurate sequel, which I think would have to be set no later than the late 70’s in order to pre-date the original 1984 film. As such, I’m not sure whether this will be the backstory for the Freddy we know from the original film series or a brand new vision of the character. In either case, the production looks exceedingly professional for a fanfilm and I look forward to learning more about it.

The creators have designed a new glove for Freddy which leads me to believe that they are revamping the story rather than making a direct prequel to the original films.

Son of a Hundred Maniacs- Krueger's New GloveI really like the look of this glove. In the preview for the film, the actor is wearing a faithful replica of the original glove, so I’m not sure where or how this re-design will fit in to the movie, but it looks pretty incredible to me. One of the most noticeable differences I can see between this and the original design is the way the finger supports connect to the back plate. Rather than being bolted flat into their support as in the original, they have what appears to be some type of floating hinge which gives them more movement and I think will be really visually effective when in action, giving the glove more life than previous versions.

My only reservation about this film is the fact that Freddy was specifically known as a murderer of children in his lifetime and the only reason he killed teenagers in the movies was because they had grown older in the time between his death and eventual resurrection in the dream world. Now, it’s one thing to hint at or talk about the awful things he did while he was alive; it’s quite another to actually portray them. The official movies were, if not always exactly tasteful, at least restrained by what the Motion Picture Association of America would allow to be seen in theaters and the specifics of what he did to young children were always left in the dark.

Making independent online movies such as this gives filmmakers a blessed freedom from those bureaucratic standards, but with that freedom comes the possibility of going too far for some people’s comfort levels. I’m not saying that these creators don’t have the right to push the envelope, just that I personally may not be able to handle the outcome.

Despite my unease at the possible content of this film, I am very interested to see more. According to the writer/director the project is in post-production, so hopefully it will be available soon. In the meantime, we can keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates!

Sailor Moon the Movie

Yes, it’s yet another Sailor Moon fan film! Actually, this is one of the earliest movies to have entered into production (at least it started releasing info earlier than the others). I think the first time I saw a trailer for it was in 2011, maybe 2010. Despite that fact, however, it was beaten to the punch by both Sailor Moon the Movie (Independent Short) and Dead Moon Circus, which both debuted ahead of it. Part One of this movie debuted on YouTube in November; no real word on Part Two yet:

Thus far the movie is mostly a remake of the first season of the English version of the anime with a few lifts from the live-action series. Since this movie has had a much longer gestation period than either of the two I’ve shared before, I had some higher expectations for it and in some ways they were met. I like the actresses who play Sailors Moon and Mercury. They capture the essence of their characters and bring a charming vitality to the roles. I appreciate that MaryBeth Schroeder doesn’t shy away from portraying the extreme familiarity bordering on obnoxiousness that is definitely part of Serena.

I was less impressed with the script, though. The story is very much a melding of the first and fifth episode of the anime in which Serena and Amy become Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury, and there are a few elements which are handled rather clumsily, mainly the Dark Kingdom and especially the Rainbow Crystals.

Do you know what they are? Well, the script doesn’t really tell you, so hopefully you do; otherwise they’re just some Mineral MacGuffins and the villains have a pretty unclear motivation or intent.

Really, the inclusion of the Rainbow Crystals is questionable anyway. Since they were an invention of the anime to help pad out the story for more episodes, including them in a condensed movie version seems ill advised, and their hasty introduction makes them seem like an afterthought. They’re mentioned, the bad guys already have more than half of them, and they have something to do with another crystal and/or gathering energy. A script supervisor or some revision over the lengthy production period probably would have helped their inclusion to be much less awkward.

What the extensive time spent on the movie has helped, however, are the visual effects which are really pretty good for the most part. When the movie tries to imitate the anime’s stock footage for transformations and attacks it’s pretty disappointing, but when it shows the effects of the attacks on the real world it’s very effective. Also, the digital scenery is incorporated very well and looks like a good deal of time and effort went into it.

Overall, it’s not my favorite of the fan films and with how long it’s been in production I’m less forgiving of its incomplete status, but it is fun. This one is definitely made for fans, and the enjoyment comes from seeing familiar characters and scenes portrayed in a new medium, rather than from any new ideas or thematic approaches to the story.

Sailor Moon Fan Film: Dead Moon Circus

My fellow Moonies, rejoice! We are truly in the Neo Golden Age of Sailor Moon. What with the current revival of the anime and anime-themed merchandise worldwide, the re-printing of the manga in English with the direct intent of being more accurate to the original (whether it actually is or not is an argument for another time; the intent was good), and the production of a new series being in the works we are getting more Sailor Moon goodies than we’ve seen since she first took the world by storm.

In the midst of all this official media and merchandise, we are also seeing wild numbers of fan films and fan series being produced! I talked about one already and now it’s time to share another one. I was hoping to wait until the second part of the film was uploaded to talk about it but I’m impatient and want to share it now, so enjoy part one and look forward to the conclusion to come! This film comes from an Australian group of fans and is titled Dead Moon Circus:

Review under the cut:

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Sailor Moon the Movie (Independent Short)

Hello! Fiyero3305 here, making my first post. If I mess up any formatting with my links and photos, please forgive me. I am writing about this movie as my first post, even though it’s somewhat old news, because it needs to be discussed (LGG told me she never wrote about it because she knew I’d want to do so when I started posting. Isn’t she sweet?), but to make it more current I’ll review not only the film but also the DVD, which only recently came out.

First, the film:

My thoughts:

Overall, I’m a fan. I think the pacing and acting leave plenty to be desired but the look of the movie and the effort that went into it are great. I think it’s definitely a film which benefits from repeat viewings so it doesn’t seem so rushed and abrupt in its direction changes and ending.The quality of acting in the film varies greatly from performer to performer but overall I must say this aspect is the film’s greatest weakness. Avery Danielle as Princess Serenity starts off with a rather overwrought performance but her portrayal has promise. It seems clear that she is a theatre-trained actress and she’s broadcasting her emotions to the back of the house, but the problem is she’s on film and the camera doesn’t need or appreciate that grandiose of a performance. Still, I like her and hope that if the project continues she stays on and internalizes the role more because she somewhat reminds me of my favorite Sailor Moon actress from the musicals, Kanbe Miyuki.

Miyuki started off a bit overdone but quickly progressed into a natural and beautiful performer, so I hope Avery does the same. Nick Uhas as Endymion is sadly the weakest link. He just seems to be saying words, rather than acting, and his underdone performance is made even more apparent by Avery’s overdone performance. I feel they both accentuate each other’s flaws, unfortunately.

As the movie progresses, however, they both improve. The montage of their relationship is cute and their performances as Darien and Bunny in the present day feel much less forced. Kris Woodside plays Naru very nicely and she seems the most at ease on camera than anyone in the film. I will say though, she seems a bit… pushy? I don’t know how to describe it but she seems like she’s on uppers and/or a sugar high all day and doesn’t even really listen to Bunny when they’re talking. It makes her dismissal of Melvin (played equal parts creepy and funny by Eric Pietrangolare) in the arcade scene seem really bitchy.

Speaking of, the arcade scene is easily my favorite in the movie. It has the most natural dialogue and acting in the whole thing and Naru and Bunny really do seem like friends.

The fight scene in which Bunny finally becomes Sailor Moon is a bit underwhelming but fight scenes are difficult to direct (very few in the live action series or musicals ever came off as thrilling) and the finished product isn’t bad. I must say I loved the transformation and was glad it occurred in real-time even though I would have loved to see a transformation sequence. I know some people take issue with them but I think the stock footage for the transformation and attack sequences made the anime and will defend them to the death. The battle ends a bit flat but Bunny’s return home, the reappearance of Luna, and finally getting to hear the iconic Sailor Moon speech ends the film on a strong note.

There have been some fans who’ve taken issue with the mixture of Japanese names with English ones. To this I would like to point out that Naru is the only character with a Japanese name in the film. The arcade worker, unnamed in the dialogue, is listed as Moto in the credits which could be a given name or a nickname. As for Naru, I would have preferred something more Anglicized. Originally the character was going to be called Nara which I thought was a good nod to her original name while still sounding like something an American girl would be named. Still I justify it as saying that America’s a mixed bag of cultures and maybe this girl has some distant Japanese in her heritage, or maybe her parents are in love with the culture, or maybe they just liked the name. It may not be likely but you can’t say it’s not possible.

Another complaint I’ve heard is that Bunny says “Oh shit!” to which I reply: “Um, so?” I keep seeing people say that Usagi would never say something like that so one thing I need to point out to my fellow moonies:

Tsukino Usagi: 14 year-old Japanese girl from 1992.

Bunny T: Unidentified age (though likely 15-17) American girl from 2011.

They’re not the same person. Besides, according to Miss Dream, Usagi does use this word: On the DVD (which was made available to anyone who donated ten dollars or more to the production’s campaign on indiegogo.com) there are some nice bonus features including a battle between Sailor Moon and Dark Endymion which is very well-choreographed. There’s some ballet-fu reminiscent of the live action series and nice special effects. I’m not fond of the design for Sailor Moon’s weapon though. Eric Pietrangolare (Artistic Director) has described his aesthetic as organic and earthen and while I love that for Queen Beryl’s design I don’t for Sailor Moon’s. She is very much a pristine, heavily-designed heroine and her weapons should match that. Also, I think it would make a great contrast between her and Beryl if Beryl’s designing is dark and earthy and Sailor Moon’s is glittering and polished.

There are behind-the-scenes videos which help develop an appreciation for how hard the cast and crew worked and all that went into production, bloopers for fun, and a music/lyric video for the beautiful song “Story” by Nishi Rajan used in the opening of the film.

My favorite special feature by far, however, is the Q&A with Eric, Kris, and Avery who answer select questions from the production’s formspring page. This section really shows how much thought and care went into this film, especially from Eric and Kris who are primarily responsible for the look of the film and the film’s existence in the first place. They give credit to Takeuchi Naoko for all of her designs and story ideas which they used, Toei for the anime, and even the musicals and live action series from which they took some inspiration. These are clearly people who love Sailor Moon in all her forms and presentations and did their level best to create something worthwhile and interesting for the fandom. I think they succeeded.

Sorry if this ran long but since I had some complaints with this project I wanted to give them some explanation and make it clear that I do think this is a good film worthy of support. I hope they continue their work and flesh out their ideas further!