Commodus (Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus; 31 August 161 – 31 December 192), was Roman Emperor from 180 to 192. He also ruled as co-emperor with his father Marcus Aurelius from 177 until his father’s death in 180.
Commodus had always laid stress on his unique status as a source of god-like power, liberality and physical prowess. Innumerable statues around the empire were set up portraying him in the guise of Hercules, reinforcing the image of him as a demigod, a physical giant, a protector and a battler against beasts and men.
The emperor also had a passion for gladiatorial combat, which he took so far as to take to the arena himself, dressed as a gladiator. The Romans found Commodus’ naked gladiatorial combats to be scandalous and disgraceful. In the arena, Commodus always won since his opponents always submitted to the emperor. Thus, these public fights would not end in a death. Privately, it was his custom to slay his practice opponents. For each appearance in the arena, he charged the city of Rome a million sesterces, straining the Roman economy.
Commodus raised the ire of many military officials in Rome for his Hercules persona in the arena. Often, wounded soldiers and amputees would be placed in the arena for Commodus to slay with a sword. Commodus’ eccentric behaviour would not stop there. Citizens of Rome missing their feet through accident or illness were taken to the arena, where they were tethered together for Commodus to club to death while pretending they were giants. These acts may have contributed to his assassination.
Commodus was also known for fighting exotic animals in the arena, often to the horror of the Roman people. According to Gibbon, Commodus once killed 100 lions in a single day. Later, he decapitated a running ostrich with a specially designed dart and afterwards carried the bleeding head of the dead bird and his sword over to the section where the Senators sat and gesticulated as though they were next. On another occasion, Commodus killed three elephants on the floor of the arena by himself. Finally, Commodus killed a giraffe which was considered to be a strange and helpless beast. In November 192, Commodus held Plebian Games in which he shot hundreds of animals with arrows and javelins every morning, and fought as a gladiator every afternoon, naturally winning all the bouts.
GLADIATOR: Portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix in Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’ (2000). The story follows Russell Crowe as loyal Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is betrayed when Commodus, murders his father and seizes the throne. Reduced to slavery, Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murder of his family and his Emperor. Phoenix portrayed Commodus as a vain, power hungry and socippathic young man who is jealous of and despises Maximus because his father Marcus Aurelius favors the General over him. Marcus Aurelius died of plague at Vindobona and was not murdered by his son Commodus. The character of Maximus is fictional, although in some respects he resembles the historical figures of Narcissus (the character’s name in the first draft of the screenplay and the real killer of Commodus), Spartacus (who led a significant slave revolt), Cincinnatus (a farmer who became dictator, saved Rome from invasion, then resigned his 6-month appointment after fifteen days), and Marcus Nonius Macrinus (a trusted general and friend of Marcus Aurelius). Although Commodus engaged in show combat in the Colosseum, he was strangled by the wrestler Narcissus in his bath, not killed in the arena, and reigned for several years, unlike the brief period shown in the film.
Caligula (Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 31 August AD 12 – 24 January AD 41), also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor from 37 to 41. The young Gaius earned the nickname Caligula (meaning “little soldier’s boot”) from his father’s soldiers while accompanying him during his campaigns in Germania.
Surviving sources present a number of stories about Caligula that illustrate cruelty and insanity; self-absorbed, angry, killed on a whim, and who indulged in too much spending and sex. He is accused of sleeping with other men’s wives and bragging about it, killing for mere amusement, causing starvation, and wanting a statue of himself erected in the Temple of Jerusalem for his worship. Once at some games at which he was presiding, he ordered his guards to throw an entire section of the crowd into the arena during intermission to be eaten by animals because there were no criminals to be prosecuted and he was bored. Caligula has also been accused of incest with his sisters, Agrippina the Younger, Drusilla and Livilla, and prostituted them to other men. He sent troops on illogical military exercises, turned the palace into a brothel, and most famously, planned or promised to make his horse, Incitatus, a consul, and actually appointed him a priest.
Caligula has been played by Ralph Bates in the 1968 ITV television series ‘The Caesars; John Hurt in the 1976 BBC television series ‘I, Claudius’; John McEnery in the 1985 miniseries ‘A.D.’; Szabolcs Hajdu in the 1996 film ‘Caligula’; and John Simm in the 2004 miniseries ‘Imperium Nerone’. A feature-length historical film ‘Caligula’ was completed in 1979, in which Malcolm MacDowall played the lead role. The film alienated audiences with extremely explicit sex and violence and received extremely negative reviews.
A squad of Louisiana National Guardsmen set out for weekend manoeuvres in the bayou. Their objective is simple; all they have to do is navigate through the swamp to a designated meeting point then they can go home. These weekend warriors, led by Staff Sergeant Poole (Peter Coyote) are a disparate group; private Spencer (Keith Carradine) is the cool intellectual of the group, who has organised some prostitutes for the squad at the end of the training; Corporal Hardin (Powers Boothe) has been transferred from Texas; Corporal Lonnie Reece (Fred Ward) the redneck racist; Stuckey (Lewis Smith) the loose cannon; Sergeant Casper (Les Lannom): Corporal ‘Coach’ Bowden (Alan Autry), a gum teacher by trade who is more than a little gung-ho and private Tyrone Cribbs (T.K. Carter), and Simms (Franklyn Seales) are excellent support.
As they bitch and complain while trudging through the swamp they realise that recent rains have cut them off form their objective, desperate to finish the job and go home they steal some local Cajun canoes. In a moment of stupidity, Stuckey fires off some blank rounds at the locals who return live fire, killing Sergeant Poole. The guardsmen make it to the opposite shore where leaderless, their lack of experience is exposed as panic sets in and a thirst for revenge clouds their judgement.
They catch a one-armed local (Brion James), blaming him for Poole’s death, they beat him and accidentally destroy his home before dragging him off through the swamp to bring him to ‘justice’. However, they are pursued by a group of locals (including Sonny Landham) who know the swamp and are far more equipped to deal with the game of cat and mouse which unfolds.
Director Walter Hills feature ‘Southern Comfort’ (1981) stirs up comparisons to John Boorman’s ‘Deliverance’ and to a lesser extent ‘First Blood’. The film is an intense chase-thriller, full of suspense, exhilarating, tense and atmospheric. An excellent script, lean and taut, Hill spends a brief amount of time introducing us to the characters before throwing them and us headlong into the action. Their various character flaws bubble to the surface as their situation worsens and the tension mounts. The cast are all solid delivering a good ensemble performance.
Beautifully shot by Andrew Lazslo, cinematographer for Hill’s ‘The Warriors’ and ‘Streets of Fire’ as well as the similar ‘First Blood’. Using the light and reflections within the swamp to full effect to create a claustrophobic and haunting setting; the Cajun hunters are almost ghost like, we never see them clearly until the end of the movie.
The soundtrack by Hill regular Ry Cooder is eerie and seductive. It draws the viewer into the scenes, expanding the visuals; it’s both unnerving and beautiful. Cooder has supplied scores for other Walter hill movies ‘The Long Riders’, ‘Streets of Fire’, ‘Crossroads’ and ‘Geronimo’ as well as beautiful scores for ‘Alamo Bay’ and ‘Paris, Texas’.
The film was seen at time of release as a Vietnam allegory but that perception has waned slightly over the years. It still looks and feels contemporary and any first time viewer would be hard pressed to say with any certainty when it was made or indeed, when it is set.
Highly recommended; this is another triumph of muscular film making from director Walter Hill. Southern Comfort is as good as the best Vietnam movies of the 80’s and better than the rest.
Quality: 4 out of 5 stars
Any good: 4 out of 5 stars
New trailer for The Squad (El Paramo), a new Colombian military horror film. Synopsis:
All contact with a military base high in the desolate wastelands of Colombia has been lost. The authorities – believing the base to have fallen to a terrorist attack – send a nine-man squad to investigate.When they arrive, the men discover a shocking scene of carnage, and only one survivor – a mute woman in chains.
Gradually the isolation, the inability to communicate with the outside worldand the impossibility of escape begin to undermine the sanity of the soldiers.They start to question the identity of their enemy, and the true nature of the strange, silent woman. Is she a terrorist? A victim? Or something moresinister? Something supernatural… Paranoia takes root. Prisoners of fear and the terrible secret they share, their humanity abandoned, the men turn savagely on each other.
A year ago, vampires, werewolves and zombies mysteriously descended upon the streets of California’s San Fernando Valley. Death Valley is the dark comedy that follows the cops that capture the monsters, and the camera crew that captures the cops.
Follow the horrific yet comedic exploits of the newly formed Undead Task Force (UTF), a division of the LAPD created to combat the emergence of monsters in the San Fernando Valley. Death Valley showcases the outrageous and courageous men and women working the toughest beat in the US: Death Valley.
Balancing dark humor with horror, the show is built upon cold-blooded conflict and character driven comedy, following the cops bent on keeping the streets safe from the presence of the paranormal. Documenting each case of zombie, vampire and werewolf encounter is the daring camera crew that is embedded within the task force, quickly revealing that the monster problem goes much deeper than anyone could have possibly imagined.
Full of subtext about living in today’s insane world, Death Valley is at its core a fun, non-stop thrill ride featuring chases, hardcore kills, and extraordinary creatures. The zombies are disgusting, menacing and brutal, the vampires are dangerous, smart and powerful and the werewolves are beastly and insane. From “blood-for-sex” prostitution busts to undead traffic jams, every call from dispatch will take you to a place you’ve never been: right to the bleeding heart of Death Valley.
Edward Theodore “Ed” Gein (August 27, 1906– July 26, 1984) was an American murderer. His crimes, which he committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, garnered widespread notoriety after authorities discovered Gein had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin.
After police found body parts in his house in 1957, Gein confessed to killing two women: tavern owner Mary Hogan in 1954, and a Plainfield hardware store owner, Bernice Worden, in 1957. Initially found unfit to stand trial, following confinement in a mental health facility, he was tried in 1968 for the murder of Worden and sentenced to life imprisonment, which he spent in a mental hospitals, the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and Mendota State Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. The body of Bernice Worden was found in Gein’s shed; her head and the head of Mary Hogan were found inside his house. Robert H. Gollmar, the judge in the Gein case, wrote: “Due to prohibitive costs, Gein was tried for only one murder — that of Mrs. Worden.”
With fewer than three murders attributed, Gein does not meet the traditional definition of a serial killer. However it is the insane collection of human body parts that has given rise to the Ed Geinmythology. Searching the house, authorities found:
- Four noses
- Whole human bones and fragments
- Nine masks of human skin
- Bowls made from human skulls
- Ten female heads with the tops sawn off
- Human skin covering several chair seats
- Mary Hogan’s head in a paper bag
- Bernice Worden’s head in a burlap sack
- Nine vulvas in a shoe box
- A belt made from human female nipples
- Skulls on his bedposts
- Organs in the refrigerator
- A pair of lips on a draw string for a windowshade
- A lampshade made from the skin from a human face
These artifacts were photographed at the crime lab and then were properly destroyed.
Regardless, according to the creators Robert Bloch, Tobe Hooper and Thomas Harris, his real-life case influenced the creation of fictional serial killers Norman Bates from ‘Psycho’, Leatherface from ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, and Jame Gumb from ‘The Silence of the Lambs’.
The story of Ed Gein has had a lasting impact on western popular culture as evidenced by its numerous appearances in movies, music and literature. Apart from influencing 3 of the horror genres most iconic movies, Gein’s story was adapted into a number of movies, including ‘Deranged’ (1974), ‘In the Light of the Moon’ (2000) released in the U.S. as ‘Ed Gein’ (2001), and ‘Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield’ (2007). Deranged is disturbingly creepy, the others, as is usual with this fare, are awful. A biographical musical titled ‘Ed Gein: the Musical’ premiered on January 2, 2010 in Menasha, Wisconsin. Haven’t seen it…
On July 26, 1984, Gein died of respiratory and heart failure due to cancer in Stovall Hall at the Mendota Mental Health Institute. His grave site in the Plainfield cemetery was frequently vandalized over the years; souvenir seekers chipped off pieces of his gravestone before the bulk of it was stolen in 2000. The gravestone was recovered in June 2001 near Seattle and is now in a museum in Waushara County. Rot in Hell.
Contagion has it all, big budget, quality director and big name cast… The Gerber Syndrome has a similar story but the similarities end there. Still, it might be an interesting independent movie.
SYNOPSIS: We all know how easy it is to get infected by a virus. But this time its not just any virus. It’s the Gerber syndrome, a new pathology that doesnt look like a normal flu. A TV crew is making a documentary about this new pathology. It’s the Gerber syndrome, a highly contagious virus with devastating effects. Through the testimony of three people that are directly involved with the disease (a doctor, an infected girl, a young security agent) the truth is revelead, and it is way more terrifing than what the authorities want us to believe.Because the Gerber syndrome is already between us. And it’s very, very contagious…
DISNEY PRESS RELEASE: From creative genius Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland,” The Nightmare Before Christmas”) comes “Frankenweenie,” a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.
A stop-motion animated film, “Frankenweenie” will be filmed in black and white and rendered in 3D, which will elevate the classic style to a whole new experience.
In Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.
- · When Tim Burton originally conceived the idea for “Frankenweenie,” he envisioned it as a full-length, stop-motion animated film. Due to budget constraints, he instead directed it as a live-action short, released in 1984.
- · “Frankenweenie” follows in the footsteps of Tim Burton’s other stop-motion animated films “Corpse Bride” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”—both of which were nominated for Academy Awards®.
- · Over 200 puppets and sets were created for the film.
- · The voice cast includes four actors who worked with Burton on previous films: Winona Ryder (“Beetlejuice,” “Edward Scissorhands”), Catherine O’Hara (“Beetlejuice,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas”), Martin Short (“Mars Attacks!”) and Martin Landau (“Ed Wood,” Sleepy Hollow”).
- · Several of the character names—Victor, Elsa Van Helsing, Edgar “E” Gore and Mr. Burgermeister— were inspired by classic horror films.
Takashi Miike (born August 24, 1960) is a highly prolific and controversial Japanese flimmaker. He has directed over seventy theatrical, video, and television productions since his debut in 1991. In the years 2001 and 2002 alone, Miike is credited with directing fifteen productions. His films range from violent and bizarre to dramatic and family-friendly.
Miike’s theatrical debut was the film ‘The Third Gangster’ (1995). However it was ‘Shinjuku Triad Society’ (1995) that was the first of his theatrical releases to gain public attention. The film showcased his extreme style and his recurring themes, and its success gave him the freedom to work on higher-budgeted pictures. Shinjuku Triad Society is also the first film in what is labeled his “Black Society Trilogy”, which also includes ‘Rainy Dog’ (1997) and ‘Ley Lines’ (1999). He gained international fame in 2000 when his romantic horror film ‘Audition’ (1999) his violent Yakuza epic ‘Dead or Alive’ (1999), and his controversial manga adaptation of ‘Ichi the Killer’ (2001) played at international film festivals. He has since gained a strong cult following in the West that is growing steadily with the increase in DVD releases of his works. His latest film ‘Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai’ premiered In Competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. I reviewed ’13 Assassins’ a week or so ago.
Miike has garnered international notoriety for depicting shocking scenes of extreme violence and sexual perversions. Many of his films contain graphic and lurid bloodshed, often portrayed in an over-the-top, cartoonish manner. Much of his work depicts the activities of criminals (especially Yakuza) or concern themselves with non-Japanese living in Japan. He is known for his black sense of humour and for pushing the boundaries of censorship as far as they will go.
I think his best film is ‘Audition’ (1999), the film has been likened to ‘Misery’ and ‘In the Realm of the Senses’ due to its graphic violence. However, the torture scene in the movie is very brief, and only a few shots show the actual torture, focusing more on Asami’s sadistic enjoyment of it. Among filmmakers featured on Bravo’s “100 Scariest Movie Moments” (on which the film appeared at #11), notable horror directors including Eli Roth, John Landis and Rob Zombie found the film very difficult to watch,given its grisly content; Landis said that the film was so disturbing that he couldn’t enjoy it at all. Massive internet movie site, Bloody Disgusting ranked the film fourteenth in their list of the ‘Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade’, with the article saying “Considered by many to be Takashi Miike’s masterpiece, this cringe-inducing, seriously disturbed film boasts one of the most unbearable scenes of torture in movie history… It’s revolting in the best possible way; the prolific Miike goes for the jugular here, and he cuts deep.”
One of his most controversial films was the ultra-violent ‘Ichi the Killer’ (2001), adapted from a manga comic of the same name and starring Tadanobu Asano as a sadomasochistic Yakuza enforcer. The extreme violence was initially exploited to promote the film: during its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2001, the audience received “barf bags” emblazoned with the film’s logo as a promotional gimmick (one typically flamboyant gory killing involves a character slicing a man in half from head to groin, and severing another’s face, which then slides down a nearby wall).
However, the BBFC refused to allow the release of the film uncut in Britain, citing its extreme levels of sexual violence towards women. In Hong Kong, 15 minutes of footage were cut. In the United States it has been shown uncut (unrated).
In 2005, Miike was invited to direct an episode of the ‘Masters of Horror’ anthology series. The series, featuring episodes by a range of established horror directors such as John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper and Dario Argento, was supposed to provide directors with relative creative freedom and relaxed restrictions on violent and sexual content (Some violent content was edited from the Dario Argento-directed episode ‘Jenifer’). However, when the Showtime cable network acquired the rights to the series, the Miike-directed episode ‘Imprint’ was deemed too disturbing for the network. Showtime cancelled it from the broadcast lineup even after extended negotiations, though it was retained as part of the series’ DVD release. Mick Garris, creator and executive producer of the series, described the episode as “amazing, but hard even for me to watch… definitely the most disturbing film I’ve ever seen”.
Park Chan-wook (born August 23, 1963) is a South Korean film director, writer, producer and former film critic. One of the most acclaimed and popular filmmakers in his native country, Park is most known for his films ‘Joint Security Area’ (2000), ‘Thirst’ (2009) and what has become known as The Vengeance Trilogy, consisting of 2002’s ‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance’, ‘Oldboy’ (2003) and ‘Sympathy for Lady Vengeance’ (2005). His films are noted for their immaculate framing and often brutal subject matter.
His debut feature film was ‘The Moon is… The Sun’s Dream’ (1992), and after five years, he made his second film ‘Trio’ (1997) . Neither of his early films were successful, and he pursued a career as a film critic to make a living. Then in 2000, Park directed ‘Joint Security Area’, which was a great success both commercially and critically, at the time of its release becoming the most-watched film ever made in South Korea. This success made it possible for him to make his next film more independently – ‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance’ is the result of this creative freedom.
After winning the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for the film ‘Oldboy’ (2003), a journalist asked, “in your film, why is the vengeance repeating?”. According to Park, he decided to make three consecutive films with revenge as the central theme. Park said his films are about the utter futility of vengeance and how it wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone involved. Despite extreme violence in his films, Park is regarded as one of the most popular film directors in Korea, with three of his last five feature films all drawing audiences of over 3 million. This makes Park the director of three films in the thirty all-time highest grossing films in South Korea.
American director Quentin Tarantino is an avowed fan of Park. As the head judge in 2004 Cannes Film Festival, he personally pushed for Park’s ‘Oldboy’ to be awarded the Palme d’Or (the honor eventually went to Michael Moore’s ‘Fahrenheit 9/11). Oldboy garnered the Grand Prix, the second-highest honor in the competition. Tarantino also regards Park’s Joint Security Area to be one of “the top twenty films made since 1992.”
In 2009, Park directed his first vampire film, ‘Thirst’ (2009) which won Prix du jury along with ‘Fish Tank’, directed by Andrea Arnold at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. The film tells the story of a priest—who is in love with his friend’s wife—turning into a vampire through a failed medical experiment. Park has stated, “This film was originally called ‘The Bat’ to convey a sense of horror. After all, it is about vampires. But it is also more than that. It is about passion and a love triangle. I feel that it is unique because it is not just a thriller, and not merely a horror film, but an illicit love story as well.”
Earlier in 2011, Park said his new fantasy-horror film Paranmanjang (Night Fishing) was shot entirely on the iPhone.
Another Resident Evil is on the way, and this fourth instalment in the Underworld series will be released in January. I’ll probably see it if there’s nothing else on that week, and as with Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil, watching Kate Beckinsale is easy… however i just don’t get why these movies are so profitable…
Nasty trailer for Joe Chien’s ‘Zombie 108’ This is the Asian trailer, not the new western version, it is longer and tackier… and a lot more fun!