Wednesday, June 28, 2017

NEW DEVILMAN SERIES COMING TO NETFLIX IN 2018


If you're a manga/anime fan, specifically of the long running DEVILMAN series, then you've got something to look forward to in the spring of 2018; Devilman Cry Baby will land three years after the Devilman Vs Cyborg 009 series of 2015. Netflix has released a teaser trailer. (above)

The animation style looks a bit different from past series and movies, but I'm intrigued none the less.
Devilman was created by Go Nagai and released in 1972 as a manga about a month before it
debuted as a 39 episode anime. It tells the story of a boy named Akira Fudo who donned the skull of an ancient demon and became a demon-hero that fights other demons. I haven't had the occasion to read the manga, but I've watched a lot of the anime over the years, some of which is pretty damn horrific in the violence department (check out Amon on YouTube). There's also a live action film, but I can't recommend it, as the CGI is pretty rough, somewhat on par with an episode of Power Rangers.  
If you're unfamiliar with Devilman, check out this clip from The Birth...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

REVIEWING THE HANNIBAL LECTER SAGA PART THREE; RED DRAGON



2002's Red Dragon is the second film based on Thomas Harris's 1981 novel of the same name. Michael Mann brought the story to big screen first in1986 as Manhunter, which producer Dino DeLaurentis was ultimately unhappy with. Manhunter is a stylish if dated thriller. It has all the hallmarks of Mann's best work and has a strong cult following. Red Dragon in comparison is much more faithful to the book, but a bit dry.

Directed by Brett Ratner and starring Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Ralph Fiennes, Mary Louise Parker, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and returning for his third outing as Hannibal, Anthony Hopkins, Red Dragon wraps up the Hopkins trilogy following '90's Silence Of The Lambs and '01's Hannibal. Ending the trilogy with a prequel creates a neat loop constantly feeding back into itself. Unfortunately it's the weakest of the three, suffering from being just too damn matter-of-fact.

Red Dragon begins with a prelude, showing us Lecter throwing a dinner party after a concert and afterwards getting a visit from Will Graham who has been getting help from Lecter in the Chesapeake Ripper case. During the visit, Graham realizes that he's made a mistake and Lecter himself is the Ripper. Lecter, one step ahead, tries to kill Graham, but is shot in the process. Jump ahead, FBI director Jack Crawford pays a now retired Graham a visit, seeking out help catching a serial killer dubbed The Tooth Fairy, because he's a biter. Graham, who had been seriously wounded by Lecter is reluctant, but he knows he can't sit on the side lines while innocent people die, so he comes out of retirement. It doesn't take him long before he realizes that the Tooth Fairy is going to be a very formidable adversary and time is running out before he chooses his next victims, so Graham turns to Lecter for help.

I'm completely at a loss to compare Red Dragon to Ratner's other films since the only other one I've seen is X-Men; Last Stand. Last Stand is, next to X-Men Origins; Wolverine, the worst X-Men sequel.  Red Dragon is such a different kind of film stylistic comparisons are pointless.

Even comparing Red Dragon to Manhunter or the Hannibal tv series seems pointless and that leaves us only the other two Hopkins films to hold it up to. Jonathan Demme, Ridley Scott, and Brett Ratner have little in common in style and taste and the three films all have a somewhat different flavor that compliments and contrasts at turns. Hopkins' performance and Ted Tally's scripts are the only consistent elements. Even reoccurring characters are re-cast. As I said,  Red Dragon is rather dry. Silence was engrossing as a character drama and race against time, Hannibal was more visceral and skirted the line between horror film and thriller more, and then Dragon is more literal, less stylish, but has moments that are no less harrowing than the first two. The problem with the film is that while Demme and Scott were able to find strength in their films' quiet moments, Ratner does not. While the film boasts an impressive cast, they lack the chemistry that can be found in every other adaptation of the Harris's material. It's an A-list cast in a B-list thriller. Had it come out before Silence it may have fared better, because it's not a bad film. Red Dragon has a lot going for it and doesn't lack tension and real scares. It's well worth watching for what it does right and is generally forgivable for the lulls.

Getting back to the casting, this is probably my biggest gripe about the movie. Edward Norton's take on Will Graham is almost too normal. Graham in the book is much more damaged and traumatized after his final encounter with Lecter and this greatly effects him through his pursuit of The Tooth Fairy/Red Dragon (Fiennes). William Peterson in Manhunter and Hugh Dancy in Hannibal the series nailed this. Norton did damaged much better in Fight Club. Harvey Keitel is another odd choice in casting as he a) doesn't do much and b) doesn't fill the shoes of Scott Glen who defined the role of FBI director Jack Crawford. Fiennes is excellent in the movie, but I could never get over the idea that Tom Noonan made so much more sense and embodied the Fairy/Dragon/Francis Dollarhyde so much better. Fiennes captures every aspect of the Fairy's personality, but his disfiguration is so slight that he just doesn't visually represent an outsider the way Noonan did. I know it's all about psychology, but for me I just can't shake Noonan, even when I read the book. (If you recall from the last part of the series, I had the same problem with Julianne Moore. This isn't a typical problem for me, as I can normally accept recasting in most franchises. For whatever reason, that's a huge sticking point for me with these, that's why I harp on it so much.)

Another problem Red Dragon suffers from has nothing to do with Ratner, the cast, or anything else in the film; looking back from 2017 it just all feels very redundant. We've seen this story adapted to the screen three times in less than 30 years now. To get the most out of the film one will have to watch it before seeing the other two adaptations, accept it on it's own outside of the rest of the franchise, or see it at a great distance from watching the others. Had a director like David Fincher or even Ben Affleck (think The Town or Gone Baby Gone) taken on the film and given the direction the kind of style and flare they bring, Red Dragon may have been able to hold it's own against Silence and Hannibal instead of being so pedestrian. Ultimately, though, as an adaptation it really is just a cash in on the popularity of Hopkins' portrayal, and he's hardly in the film, though his part is a bit beefed up from the book, though no where near to the extent of the TV series. I don't like to be so cynical, especially in regards to a film that's not that bad, but it just sits there, doesn't it?


Friday, June 23, 2017

new fiction; FLAYED SKIN

written by Tim Murr
Copyright 2017 St Rooster Books/Tim Murr

Abel was tied to a large stone table, hands and feet stretched to all four corners. He had been stripped nude and left in the dark for many hours. Someone had come into the room several minutes ago, but had remained in the dark and hadn’t said anything.
“Hey! Hey, mother fucker!” Abel shouted. “I’m a cop, fuck face! Untie me or your going to be in a world of shit!”
A large metal work light snapped on over his face. He shut his eyes shut tight, turning away. He peered through slitted eyelids, but couldn’t make out the figure moving around on the periphery of the darkness.
“What did I do to you, man? Huh? Did I arrest you or something?”
“It’s March,” came a voice from the dark.
“Yea?”
“That’s why. It’s time.”
“Time for what?”
“To renew relationships with gods we have neglected.”
Abel’s captor came out of the darkness wearing skull face paint. He was nude except for a pair of boxer shorts and he’d painted symbols all over his body. The man held a long blade in his right hand and held it where Abel could see.
“Whoa, are off your meds? Guy, listen! Don’t do this! I can take care of you, ok? I can help!”
“I know you can, but I don’t think you understand how.”
“Tell me, ok? Talk to me. You don’t want to kill a cop!”
“I don’t care that you’re a cop. That doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m going to take your heart, then I’m going to wear your skin.”
Abel’s voice cracked, as he shouted, “no!”
“Be brave, man. You serve a higher purpose.”
The man plunged the knife into Abel’s chest, cracking bone. He chopped through roughly as Abel screamed and pleaded in agony. Then the man dipped his hand in and pulled Abel’s heart out and held it up to his face. Abel was speechless as he went into shock at the sight of his beating heart in the man’s hand. Darkness started to over take Abel as he slipped from this world and started to float through a dim tunnel going towards a light. There was someone approaching from the other side.
Abel couldn’t make out whom it was, as he was backlit, but he was big and lumbering. As they passed one another, Abel could see he was a hulking man with a skull like face, dressed in human flesh, and wearing gold jewelry. Abel reached out to touch him, but it was like touching smoke. Then the light enveloped Abel.
The man, who called himself a priest, spent hours carefully flaying Abel, to remove his skin in one piece. It was strenuous work that required much patience-which the priest had. Once done, he was able to hold up Abel’s skin to the light and put it on like long pajamas that were open in the back. To keep the skin suit on, the priest put on a homemade ceremonial belt, and leather cuffs on his wrists and ankles, and finally a leather choker. Once that was done, he pulled Abel’s head skin over his own and peered through Abel’s eyeholes. He opened his make up kit and started applying skull paint to Abel’s face, and drawing symbols down his chest.
He left the sacrificial chamber and climbed to the top of the buried pyramid and mounted the ladder, climbing to the hole in the basement. The windows were open in the basement and the sound of the city greeted him as he climbed out of the hole. He went into his little bedroom and admired his handiwork in the mirror.
Back in the pyramid, deep in the bowels, within the sacred chamber where the ancient deity had been left to rest, a large skeletal form adorned with dried human skins and silver and gold was bathed in light for the first time in centuries. The hulking man from the tunnel stood over the skeleton, satisfied that burial rites had been performed properly, then he departed to the sacrificial chamber to claim the meat left on the table for his use.
The priest climbed the steps to the sidewalk. His building was in the low part of town, parts of which were already being demolished for new glass and steel giants. The poor were being pressed into tighter and tighter places, as if commerce was trying to squeeze the blood right out of them. The priest pressed through the throngs of hungry, sick, exhausted, angry people. He laid hands on all he passed and promised a reckoning coming while walking toward the high town. When he came to the ten-foot tall chain link fence that kept the poor away from the rich, the priest pressed Abel’s skin against the steel, gripping it tightly.
Stretching into the clouds, the glass/steel monuments to arrogance shone brightly. Neon lights lined the bases at the street level and the roads were choked with extravagant cars from over seas, bought with blood money. The priest looked up and down and laughed. Some cops patrolling the fence took notice and came over, ready to get him off the fence with the butt of their rifles.
Then they saw all the people coming up from the alleys behind him.
The man from the tunnel dragged the skinless corpse of Able down to the burial chamber and presented the body to the dried out husk of his former body. With his last bit of strength he pushed his husk off the throne onto Abel’s body and waited.
The bloody flesh became nourishment to the husk and it began to move. The muscles started to re-grow, the beastly heart began to beat, empty sockets filled with yellow eyes. The dried skin filled out and tightened until they threatened to tear.
The people pushed against the gate and shouted profanity at the growing number of cops, who smirked from the safety of the right side of the fence.
“This fence,” the priest bellowed, “will fall! Your buildings will fall! You will be stripped of your skin and worn by the refuse of this world!”
A lieutenant came forward, wearing $200 mirrored sunglasses, despite the night. He walked right up to the priest, looking around dismissively.
“All right, buddy, get off the fence and send these people home. They’re your responsibility. If they get shot their blood is on your hands.”
“Fuuuck you, pig!” The priest spits.
The newly revived god climbed from the basement and saw the stream of people heading toward the mighty towers. Such sights he had never known, what marvels these little people have become since his imprisonment.
The lieutenant took his shades off and took a closer look at the priest, really seeing him for the first time.
“What…are you wearing..?”
The priest raised his arms and turned around so the lieutenant could really take him in, then he pulled at the left eyehole so there would be no confusion.
“I’m wearing one of you!”
The priest wagged Abel’s cock at the lieutenant.
“The skin of one of you, pig!”
The lieutenant pulled his side arm, unable to speak, his words choked with rage. The other officers raised their guns against the people behind the fence and waited for the go-ahead.
Then the people parted on either side of the priest, like the Red Sea, and something came through. The cops took an involuntary step back, half lowering their guns. It was nearly eight feet tall, covered in dried skins that flapped in the wind, jewels glimmering in the neon lights; it’s yellow eyes alive with unrestrained anger.
The priest stepped aside and bowed deeply. The old god slapped his hands on top of the fence and the cops began to fire. The god pushed the fence down on top of them and strode forward. People in designer suits were stepping out of their cars to get a better look at the commotion. A wave of fear rippled through the high town. The fence had fallen. The garbage people had come through.
 In the center of the high town, there was a square where the tallest, most beautiful and breathtaking engineering marvels reached further into the Heavens than anywhere else in the city. They were connected by a magnificent rose garden in the center, with marble pathways. It was filled with the intoxicating smells of a Brazilian steak house, a Japanese/Mexican fusion bistro, a five star French restaurant, and three award winning micro-brew bars. Between each of these were the absolute to-die-for shopping experiences, where men and women could purchase the latest fashions for all seasons, and all the glittering accessories and state of the art tech toys from Fendi, Samsung, Versace, Armani, Apple, Dior, NIKE, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci…
Twenty days since the rising, the only scent of cooked meat comes from the skinned and sacrificed residents of the high town that now feed the masses. Skinned bodies are hoisted up the sides of the skyscrapers, while others are stripped and laid on a sacrificial table from Restoration Hardware, where their heart is removed before their skins. The people gather to worship at theses sacrifices, wearing the skins of the cops that once bashed their faces in and sprayed them with mace and tear gas.
All around the high town, high rises are in flames, while burnt out BMWs, Audis, Porsches, and Lexus cars are stacked as totems and adorned with the severed heads. 
End
Follow me on Twitter @holyrooster

   


Thursday, June 15, 2017

new fiction; WOLF SPIDER

Copyright St Rooster Books/Tim Murr 2017

The rain had not brought relief from the heat, but instead made the night more uncomfortable. His clothes clung to his skin and it was impossible to sit still in the booth of the Waffle House. The restaurant sat just off I-40 in Newport TN and he’d been stopping in all hours of the night for weeks. He’d order meager meals and sip endless cups of coffee. Waiting for the end of the world.
Sometimes, he’d go into one of the rest stops between there and the North Carolina border-just to sit in one of the bathroom stalls and make himself vulnerable. He’d stay until his legs fell asleep and then get up to drive more. He haunted that stretch of I-40, seen by thousands of travelers, spoken to by few. He’d park his car at gas stations and truck stops and just stare through the windshield for hours.
He used to be called Johnny MacReady, but that was back when he had a life, a home, a wife. These days, he had a car and a bunch of cash, and all the time in the world. His sensible and affordable sedan that he’d picked out with his wife was dirty and worn out. The backseat littered with clothes and pictures. Evidence that he once existed in the traditional ways of everyday humans.
A few times a week, just before dawn, he’d take an exit that had the remnants of a long closed truck stop at the base of the hill. The vast parking lot was cracked and weedy and garbage strewn. The building was squat and dark under the skeleton of the sign. The windows were cracked or broken with several ‘no trespassing’ signs posted. He’d park by the road where the car had once broke down and let the sun come upon him from over the mountains.
This spot was the last place his wife had been alive. This was as far as the car had made it. Another mile and she would have been at a functioning gas station that was open twenty-four hours a day. Her fate, though, was to coast to a stop at this derelict truck stop at three in the morning. Cell phone reception was spotty at best and she had made no contact with anyone. The police found the car the next day, key in the ignition, purse on the passenger seat untouched, door open, and a little blood on the steering wheel. The man that used to be Johnny was called to come see the vehicle as a search was began. She was gone though and would never be found.
Her name had been Cassandra and she had been flesh and blood-kindness and warmth-funny and resourceful. Now she was a faded black and white photo on a bulletin board under the words ‘Have You Seen This Woman?’ She was in good company there, with Margaret Simmons, Iris Wayne, Sonja Johnson, Victoria Woods, Suzanne Nichols, Wanda Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Eaton, and a few others that had been taken from the board or covered up by the other posts. The posts went back years with no pattern in the timing, but had in common this stretch of I-40.
The man that used to be Johnny had, on occasion, seen a couple of other men, waiting and watching with that far off look that he had himself. He knew they each had known one of the women from those posters. He knew they were lonely, hurt, and haunted like him, but they all kept their distance and would eventually disappear into the dawns and not be seen again.
Before he took to the road, he had haunted his own home, leaving the phone off the hook and not answering the door. Sympathetic eyes and hugs were never going to bring her back. He searched the Internet while waiting for the cops to tell him nothing of substance, that’s when he found out about the other women. No one had officially connected the women’s disappearances, but the pattern was there, stretching back to at least 1989. They were spread too far apart, but they all bore a striking resemblance to one another. All the women who’d gone missing could practically be sisters. One anonymous widow pointed out that man behind all the disappearances has a clear type and is patient enough to wait for the right woman to come along under the right circumstances. He’s not sloppy or impulsive and bodies never turn up. The closest thing to a clue that was ever found was the sighting of a red pick up truck seen near one of the victim’s cars, but that was back in 1994.
The man that used to be Johnny didn’t particularly watch for red pick up trucks- that would be too easy. Instead, he watched for eyes. He knew there’d be a certain type. He didn’t know what type, but felt sure he would recognize it when he saw them.
The rain had been bad. Flash flood warnings were in effect for the greater Newport area. Thunder rolled and lightning flashed and visibility was poor. The big yellow Waffle House sign had glowed like a beacon of hope from the intestate and he’d parked the car as close to the door as possible. The place was nearly empty, just a few weary travelers waiting out the thunderstorm. The waitress was friendly, but distant in a pleasing way. She recognized the man, as he’d been in that very booth many times. She never pried into his life, because she found such a thing inappropriate.
He’d scanned the room upon entering and found no one out of place or of interest. There had been one blind spot though, a booth. He could tell it was occupied by a woman on her own, but she was obscured by a beefy, bald man in a dress shirt and tie who sat with a shorter, but no less beefy, bald man in a short sleeved button up shirt and a clip-on tie. The two of them dominated the room with their loud and gruff talk about territory, zone meetings, growth, and all the inept salesmen under their weary watch. They were unpleasant and rude and when they finally went to get back on the road, despite the ongoing down pour, there was a collective sigh of relief.
Once they were gone, the man had a clear view of the woman and his heart began to race. She had a pretty face, with round cheeks, and a bright smile. She had dark blonde hair, nice curves, and dressed comfortably in a t-shirt, knee length skirt and tennis shoes. She looked slightly too old to be a college student, she had no ring on her finger, and she was a dead ringer for Cassandra. No jewelry, no visible tattoos, little make up. She was engrossed in a book, absently picking from a plate of French fries. Occasionally she’d look out the window and check her phone. He figured she must be waiting for the storm to pass, but was in no hurry. A night owl, probably, as she didn’t look tired like the rest of the people here. He thought about how Cassandra would curl up with a book, how she would have an unwavering smile when she was really deep into it.
He, the man who used to be called Johnny, knew that he, the man who stole women from this stretch of I-40, would choose her. So he finished a fourth cup of coffee, paid, and ran to his car. He backed to far end of the parking lot near the entrance and sank down to give the appearance of sleeping if anyone were to look in on him.
The rain continued for another hour. There were little ponds across the parking lot and the drainage ditch running down the hill had become wild rapids. Every time lightning would strike the sky would become purple behind the black silhouette of the mountains.
After the rain had slacked to a drizzle, the woman got up and paid. He scanned the parking lot, but nothing moved. The cars were empty. He guessed which car was hers-the dark blue, sensible and affordable sedan. The alarm chirped on that very car as she came out the door, walking toward it. He wondered if it would happen here, or if he’d have to follow her for a while. She’d probably be safe in Knoxville or in North Carolina, depending on which way she was going. Her plates said Cook County, so she wasn’t likely local.
Her car was just off to the left of the building’s front corner. She walked casually and confidently, looking around for safety’s sake, but not afraid. Then something shifted in the darkness behind her as she went around the front of her car. He put his hand on the handle and got ready.
A round man with a bulbous head sunk into his shoulders crept out of the shadows. His arms were up and Johnny could see he had long spindly fingers. He walked with a strange gait that was almost a waddle. His face was obscured by darkness.
He slipped out of car, leaving the door open and quickly circled around them in a wide arc, staying out of eyesight. His heart was in throat as the man grabbed the woman from behind and started to pull her back to the shadows, but the man who used to be Johnny was already on top of him. He threw his arms around the man’s neck and yanked him back hard enough to throw all three of them off balance. The woman, who’d been unable to scream because of the hand over her mouth, broke free and bounced off the side of her car and sprawled out on the ground.
“Get inside! Call the police!”
She scrambled to her feet and ran headlong towards the door, falling once.
The man struggled under not-Johnny, trying to throw him off, but years of rage coursed through his body now as he wrenched the man’s neck, jerking him back and forth and finally slamming him on to the hood of that sensible and affordable sedan.
He let go of the neck and started raining fists down on the man’s head and back. The man tried to cover himself and crawl away, but not-Johnny began kicking him wildly and stomping on those weird, skinny, long legs, that didn’t look strong enough to hold up the fat torso.
The man was making pained, rasping noises between shrieks of pain. Not-Johnny took a step back and caught his breath, circling the man intending to kick him in the head. As he brought his right foot back for the blow, the man turned his head up to not-Johnny’s face and hissed.
The man once called Johnny went pale as the contents of his stomach rushed into his throat and the back of his mouth. The man had two massive black eyes that reflected the yellow sign behind not-Johnny’s head, but he had two more smaller black eyes on each cheek, and still two more medium sized ones in his forehead. Worst of all though, was the mouth; a wide vertical slit, and in the light, not-Johnny could see a spiral of razor like teeth down the pulsing, red cavern of his throat.
The man leapt to his feet with uncanny agility and bolted across the parking lot in a wild, serpentine path-his legs wide apart, moving in a half skip, half waddle-arms out-stretched, fingers wiggling manically.
He got his nerve back and chased the man. The man looked back with nothing in his eyes, just eternal voids. He was looking into the soul of his attacker, his pursuer, but that man was looking at the tractor-trailer that had just come down the off ramp. Not-Johnny came to a skidding stop as the man ran right into the path of the truck and exploded across the grill.

The truck came to a skidding stop in the middle of the road and it wasn’t long before sirens could be heard, screaming through the now still night.   
Murphy called me the punk rock Gandalf

Sunday, June 11, 2017

NEW RELEASE! WOLFMEN OF MARS...DON'T LET IT IN

Horror synth rockers, Wolfmen Of Mars, have come roaring back with yet another impeccable release; Don't let it in! This is the Wolfmen's 11th album following on the heels of Warp Suburbium. Once again they lay down some serious grooves while giving shape to the soundscape of your favorite nightmares.

The album opens with the title track and might be my favorite song of theirs so far. "Kiss The Broken Bottle" is thudding urban gothic funk from hell. "Ritual" is  the title theme for some great lost Argento film. "Welcome To The Fear Theme/Hallucinatoria" will time travel you back to the glorious days of the video store and renting something fucked up you were too young to see. "At The Barn" and "Omens" are short interludes on the way to the album's closer, "Della Strega," which is Italian for whip lash or back strain, but I wonder if it's a reference to the 1973 Italian film Il Sesso Sella Strega or Sex Of The Witch? 

The artwork is by Patrick Sparrow, who had previously done The Wolfmen's The Light In The Corner Of Your Eye. It's a damn great total package, lots of fun, and will leave you wanting more, more, more! It's available HERE at Bandcamp and it's a name your own price deal.

Keep up with evil goings-on of Wolfmen Of Mars on Facebook and Twitter and play their music loud!

Friday, June 2, 2017

JOEL SCHUMACHER'S FLATLINERS AND WHAT HAPPENED WITH BATMAN

With it's Ellen Page starring sequel arriving on September 29th, 2017, and that I just re-watched it, I thought it would be a good time to talk about Joel Schumacher's 1990 haunted psychological thriller Flatliners. The premise was simple but effective; a group of medical students experiment with near death experiences to see if the stories of lights, and tunnels, and voices told by other near death survivors holds any water. What they discover are very personal experiences that bring secrets/demons of their pasts into their physical reality. It stars Kiefer Sutherland (Lost Boys), Kevin Bacon (Friday The 13th), Julia Roberts (Erin Brockavich), Oliver Platt (X-Men; First Class), and William Baldwin (Backdraft). This is my favorite film Schumacher ever made and his best looking one. He was backed up by cinematographer Jan De Bont, production designer Eugenio Zanetti, and set decorator Anne Kuljian and together they created a very cool, very alive, stylish film that had touches of gothic horror, crime noir, scenes straight out of a comic book, and washed in lighting that almost rivals some of DePalma's or Argento's work.

Flatliners was one of those films that I watched repeatedly on cable and also rented a fair number of Silence Of The Lambs had ridden in on the wave of slick adult horror *cough cough* THRILLERS, like Jacob's Ladder. Despite the genre label, Flatliners had a fair amount in common with Frankenstein and dealt with some very heavy spiritual issues. Regardless of what it was called, the important thing is that it's a smart, well made movie that offers a very satisfying experience. It has strong characters, some decent scares, high re-watchability, and ultimately a decent pay off. Schumacher had already proven to be an adept film maker with a good eye. Tonally his films were pleasing, even if they weren't always my thing. The last film of his I enjoyed was the every-man-at-the-end-of-his-rope hit Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall.
times. It came out after the 80s slasher boom had run out of steam and with the run away success of

Schumacher would betray me though. Stab me in the heart through my back even, when he made the shit-tastic Batman and Robin and Batman Forever. Yes, stellar set design, amazing lighting, yes, yes. But. There is not one other good thing to be said about these films. At all. From the casting on these films were utter mistakes, culturally tone deaf, and killed Batman in the cinema for years. Schumacher wanted to do a wild, campy, fun take on The Dark Knight that combined the feel of the two previous Burton films, with the colorful world of the 60s TV show. As far as I'm concerned, the Burton films were already a big step in the wrong direction and Schumacher just wheeled the whole franchise off a cliff. It wasn't because Batman had landed in the hands of a bad director, it was because a good director didn't respect the character enough-or perhaps have enough faith in the character to further his career in a notable way, so he decided to have fun and collect his check.

Returning to Flatliners after so many years really made me sad for what could have been. Take the
film and imagine Chicago as Gotham City (Nolan shot his DK trilogy there). Think about the themes and techniques Schumacher employed; there's touches of horror, science fiction, action, mystery, redemption, fear, heroism...If you change the plot to fit a Batman story, Joel Schumacher would have defined the character for a generation or more. It could have been a small, claustrophobic, mystery that took the character seriously, while embracing all the elements of the comic (the other-wordly, sci-fi, super human aspects) that Nolan flat out ignored. Ras Al Ghul could be hundreds of years old in that version, instead of just a man, you could imagine gods and monsters coming out of the wood work, and even an alien savior. Baldwin would have made a good Batman/Bruce Wayne. Sutherland could have pulled off a Joker to rival Ledger's performance, Roberts would have been a far more comic accurate Vicky Vale, Bacon would slay as Scarecrow, and Platt would have been a great Penguin.

I love Nolan's films, but while they are top notch Nolan films, they're only so-so Batman films, because he doesn't embrace the of the levels of the character. Which is where Burton and Schumacher fail as well. They only adapt Batman at a surface level and never dig into the depths of what makes the character so weird, and fun, and dark, and scary, and absurd. Did Snyder capture any or all of that in the new DC cinematic universe? I think we have to wait for Justice League to really judge. I have high hopes and really like Affleck as Bats. What's even more exciting is the fact that Matt Reeves will helm the solo Batman film and I base my excitement solely on Let Me In, which isn't just a great remake, but a great film in it's own right. He gets characters, atmosphere, and horror, in much the same way Schumacher did with Flatliners.