We’re Back!

It had to happen some time.

I fought and cajoled and poked and mostly forgot about it but the back archive of Stuporcollider is now back online! We might even post something again.

Perhaps.

Who am I kidding?

Images are missing all over the place, so apologies for that. I’ll try to recover what I can but moving back to WordPress.com means our lovely archive of tat now only lives on Dropbox and I’m far to lazy to go around updating links.

Review: Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Hi kiddie-winks,

As you’re all no doubt aware Halloween is just around the corner, barreling down on us like some sort of annual happening and I’ve had the big telly all to my self for a couple of days. I’ve used this time constructively by re-watching the first five Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

The thing about being a fan of a certain type of horror movie which was popular during the 70’s and 80’s is sometimes I have to be slightly apologetic, something along the lines of “Yes I know the script, acting, directing etc are awful but…” One of the exceptions to this rule I believe is Nightmare on Elm Street, part 3: The Dream Warriors, now if you’ve got a minute or two take a seat and I’m going to tell you why.

By way of pre-text, when it comes to Nightmare sequels it’s this “Pretend Part 2 never existed (Like Indie 4, or Star Wars 1 through 3).” It’s a pretty poor movie which ignores a lot of the lore created by the first movie. A discorporated Freddy Krueger possesses teenager Jesse Walsh to kill for him in the waking world rather than doing the killing himself in the dream world. Critics hated it, Wes Craven hated it, fans of the first film were kind of ambivalent, no one seems to like it but it still made a healthy return on it’s budget.

Dream Warriors sees Kristin Parker troubled by dreams of Freddy Krueger, following a dream-world chase through the now derelict house on Elm Street where Freddy was originally defeated by Nancy Thompson in the original movie Freddy catches Kristin and slashes her wrists with his claws. These wounds are mistaken by Kristin’s mother for self-harm and has Kristin committed to Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital where she is placed on a ward with several other teenage patients all suffering from sleep disorders caused by a certain man in a hat. As luck would have it Westin Hills has recently recruited a young psychology who specialises in dreams and sleep disorders, Freddy’s original nemesis Nancy Thompson, she reveals to the patients that they are “The last of the Elm Street kids” and does what she can to assist them in over-coming their dreams and once again defeating Krueger.

Wes Craven returned to take on writing duties of Nightmare on Elm Street 3 after being unhappy with the first sequel. After his original idea of having part 3 act as a meta-film where Krueger invaded the real world was rejected by New Line (Later made as New Nightmare.) Craven’s intention was that this film would be a conclusion to the Nightmare series and end the Franchise (Which he had never wanted in the first place), indeed it brings together and then ties up many of the loose ends from the original movie.

Along with the return of Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon returned as Nancy and Donald Thompson, they are joined by an impressive cast which includes Oscar nominee Laurence Fishburne and Emmy-winner Patricia Arquette in her cinematic debut. Robert Englund returns for the second time as series-antagonist Freddy Krueger riding the fine line between menace and dark comedy with evident relish.

Dream Warriors is the first of the Nightmare sequels to move away from the more traditional stalk and slash scares it’s genre in favor of the effect driven set-pieces of the later films although here it is used with some level of restraint unlike abominable scenes from later entries in the series such as “Super Freddy” or “You forgot the Power Glove”. there are some great practical effects on show some memorable death scenes including Freddy emerging from a Television to claim a victim and another victim being used as a living marionette strung up by his ligaments.

Easily dismissed through association with the later Nightmare sequels Dream warriors is my favourite entry in the series and probably my favourite horror movie. It does everything right, in my opinion setting the gold standard for both the Nightmare franchise and the horror movie genre itself. It is well written, thanks to the return of We Craven and later revisions by Frank Darabont with both memorable one liners and good dialogue. The characters are (for an eighties slasher-movie) well developed and believable. The practical and make-up effects are great and with the exception of some of the stop-motion work have aged well. The acting on show is well above par for a movie of this kind with good performances from Arquette and Langenkamp as well as possibly a career best performance from Robert Englund as begins to take Freddy further down the comedic path while still retaining an element of threat.

Unfortunately as the Nightmare series continued the set-pieces became more elaborate but also more slap-stick turning the character of Freddy Krueger into something more akin to an imitation or satire of the original portrayal before Englund’s final appearance as the character to date in Freddy V’s Jason returned some of the menace for one last hurrah.

While I’m the first to admit many films in the horror genre that I like and enjoy tend to be justified with the precursor “I know it’s bad but…” This is not the case with Dream Warriors I believe it is a genuinely good fantasy-horror movie which is since been repeatedly hamstrung by the diminishing quality of it’s own sequals.

By way of a post-script to get the most out of the Nightmare franchise consider watching 1, 3 and Freddy v’s Jason. three as I’ve already mentioned is pretty much a direct sequal to the original and FvJ contains many plot devices which recur from Dream Warriors including the return Westin Hills Psychiatric hospital and the use of dream suppressant Hypnocil, originally advocated in Part 3 by Nancy. Viewing of New Nightmare remains optional, It once again reunites Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund and John Saxon I like it, many don’t.

Secret Cinema

GOOD LogoDon’t tell anyone.

No, seriously.

It says so on the tickets. In big sensible writing it says TELL NO ONE.

Of course, I’m going to tell you though. I mean, keeping secrets is what you’re great at huh, Internet?

Secret Cinema is a new, different, immersive way to watch movies. Have you ever seen a film and loved it so much that you just wanted to live in that world? Secret Cinema, for one night, lets you do that. Have you ever thought about just booking a ticket for a movie, not knowing what you’ll see, but knowing that you’ll meet fantastic people and have a great time, no matter if you like the film or not? Secret Cinema gives you that too.

Last weekend Gabby and I travelled down to our fair (?) capital to attend Secret Cinema 20. After having a thoroughly good, if abjectly scary time at Secret Cinema 19, we decided to go again this year. Am I glad we did!

I’m not going to tell you what film we saw, but I will tell you that after we bought our tickets, we were sent a link to the intranet site for an organisation called G.O.O.D. and told that we’d been given new jobs and had to visit the intranet site every day. Closer to the opening day of SC20 a huge meet up happened in London, bringing with it news of a popup shop for G.O.O.D. Careers and a music video featuring Thom Yorke dancing. Closer to the day of our visit we were given our new jobs at G.O.O.D. I was to be in the Committee for Credit Creation, and was advised to bring a solution to the financial crisis and a penny (to help us get out of debt, you see). Gabby was given a different job and we both queued up at different entrances.

For the first hour we both went and did our own, odd tasks which included pointing, shouting, throwing, headdesking, drinking booze and chatting to folks. We finally met up and explored the rest of the huge Croydon office that Future Cinema (confusingly, the company that runs Secret Cinema) had rented out for the event.

I’m not going to tell you anything more, save that there were brilliant improv performances by so many actors, and you get much more out of the experience the more you put in. Going in costume is only the start. If you’re willing to engage with the actors, make a fool of yourself and get into the spirit of the thing, you’ll have an even better time.

In that way it’s a bit like D&D.

You should probably try it.

Neil The Apple Fanboy

Apple Logo

Or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Fruit

On Tuesday I had a problem with my iPhone. The GPS had started losing tracking and the automatic brightness seemed to be doing the opposite of what it was supposed to.

Handily I was training at Leeds, the location of Apple’s newest UK store, so I decided to drop in and see if they could fix it. They asked me a few questions which boiled down to:

  1. Have you changed the way you use your phone?
  2. Have you tried resetting it?

I answered that I had tried a full wipe and restore, and I’d not done anything different with my phone. Then and there the lovely Apple Genius swapped my phone out for a shiny new one. In ten minutes I had my phone replaced, and in another ten the iCloud backup of my phone was restored and I was back up and running.

That, right there, is customer service. I walked away from that Apple store one happy customer. Happy that I’d switched to iOS from Android (although I miss some things, for sure) and happy that a week before I’d splashed out on an iPad (on which I am writing this).

Apple offers something that other tech companies don’t, and it’s hard to understand unless you’ve really jumped into the cult and culture of Apple. I can’t imagine Samsung mimicking the experience I had with my iPhone. Maybe they will with their upcoming stores, but at the moment I don’t know of anyone else who offers that similar integrated ecosystem of hardware, software, sales and support.

The Future of Cinema… Monochrome?

Last night the Stupor collective teamed up to watch the excellent but bleak and harrowing “The Mist”. A very well made, gritty film that could be loosely categorised as horror with a pinch of Sci-Fi. Adapted from Stephen King’s short story by director Frank Darabont, this quality movie seems to have gone rather unnoticed by most, even it’s target audience and not least by two thirds of that evenings audience (Gazz and myself).

The only reason it came to my attention, I now recall, was because it was mentioned in a podcast I listened to over my Christmas break of the BBC’s flagship film review show (the Wittertaining Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review Show in fact). They interviewed one of the stars, one Toby Jones (ironically, the guy who’s name I couldn’t remember during the showing). “The Mist” was a remarked on by Mr Jones and the interviewing Mark Kermode as a top draw, having an ending the director had to fight the studio tooth & nail to keep and being originally planned to be released in in black-and-white.

It would appear these three things stuck with me as I spontaneously quizzed this parish’s Mr Holmes on the movie this Monday and mentioned the other two facts during our discussion. He confirmed the veracity of the comments on both quality and ending, and took to investigating the black-and-white point further.

On arriving at my house with his DVD in hand (yes, of course I had to watch it as soon as possible) he confirmed that, from his research, the movie was “even better” in black-and-white, with the effects looking “nicer and less plasticy” too. With this in mind we sat down to watch the movie but, as Neil DVD didn’t have the “Special Edition” black and white edition on it, we unanimously decided to turn the saturation down to zero. Simultaneously turning the 47” HD panel into a monochrome set and allowing us to watch the movie the way the director intended.

Argh!! The Black &White Tentacle Got The Sherminator!!

125 minutes later and we’d witnessed a revelation. Not only was I sat there completely aghast at the beyond-brutal ending but seeing this film in shades of grey really added something. As reported, the special FX looked darn good (in a kind of fun but horrifying way) and, most surprisingly, the picture quality looked comparable with a decent BluRay transfer. The best bit, however, was how the whole thing felt. It was absolutely wonderful. If anything it seemed almost more real and only on a couple of occasions did I even realise we were watching in black and white. We were all very impressed, so much so that we agreed with Gazz when he voiced the opinion that we should watch future horror films with the colour removed too.

So, there you have it, revelation shared!! Go watch things in black-and-white, people. Just give it a go and see what you think…

Sure it won’t work for everything but anything that’s intimately filmed and has a good story won’t suffer and, if anything, may be improved by a manual decolourisation.

As an aside, it also served as quite a good counterpoint to the current 2D (twoD) verses 3D (threeD) debate too. At no point did I wish it was in threeD and, yes, there were quite enough frames per second for me too. This completely confirmed what I guess we already know; attach all the bells and whistles you want, you can’t beat having a good, well written story and, if you don’t have that, then the rest is just meaningless, superfluous fluff.

A Cinematic Quest of Rediscovery

I used to be very “into” going to the movies. So much so, in fact, that I can remember one occasion when my now wife and I went to the local picture house (a horrible chain multiplex, but it’s nearby) and, after looking through all the listings of movies to be shown later that evening, we couldn’t find a single film we hadn’t seen. These were the good times. The features were much the same as they are today; some good, some bad, most pass the time well enough and will be forgotten in six months.

The differences from today’s experience of the cinema are the price, which has almost doubled, and the audience, which has massively declined in manner and increased in the number of light-emitting personal devices on constant show… Oh yeah, and they never turn the bloody lights off anymore. This is not the distant past I speak of but a mere decade!! Anywho, these factors combine have served to put me “right off of” going to the movies anymore.

The glasses I use to view my old cinema-going days

Partially in an attempt to resurrect my love for the movies, a few months ago I tried the new fangled IMAX screen that had opened up at the slightly less local horrible chain multiplex. This, however, turned out to be something of a disaster. Besides sitting through 2 hours of Ridley Scott doing to Alien what George Lucas so successfully managed to do to Star Wars ten years earlier (FYI; That’s not a good thing), I found the whole experience even more off-putting. The screen is massive, but not in a cinematic ratio, the sound is massive, but so loud it physically hurts and the price tag, you guessed it, is MASSIVE. £13 per ticket! Are you bonkers? I will certainly not be returning to one of those screens any time soon.

In between times I’ve visited the cinema now and then but have come away largely disappointed. I did happen upon the excellent “Sightseers”, a real “must see” for anyone with a dark sense of humour but, in the main, movies such as Captain America, The Avengers and, most recently, Skyfall have been seen but were all very blah.

That brings us pretty much up to date and to the reason for this piece. Tomorrow, my lovely wife and I will be attempting to simultaneously reignite our love for the movies and make best use of a (n Orange) Wednesday we both have off by going to the cinema to watch three movies in a day. It’s something neither of us has done before but it seems like something we should have. We won’t be helped by the fact that one of our planned features is the almost-three-hour The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey but it is so rare to find three films you actually want to see that we’ve thrown it right in there. The others are: Life of Pi 3D, I’m not really into threed but this is supposed to be very well made and my wife loved the book, and Safety Not Guaranteed, which I stumbled upon last week and is an indie film about three reporters investigating a guy who’s put out a small advert in their paper asking for a volunteer to go back in time with him.

We’ve worked out our schedule, allowing for trailers, and we should be able to work it to see The Hobbit at 10:45 first then run straight into Safety Not Guaranteed after which we have just over an hour break for dinner and finish off with Life of Pi 3D until about 19:55. That is, of course, if all goes to plan and we don’t get Deep Vein Thrombosis for our efforts.

I ought to get off now, as tomorrow has turned into later today, but I wanted to share with you all the peculiar adventure the Wifflecopter (TM) and I will be going on.

Wish us luck and see you on the other side…

UPDATE:
Well looks like we’re back on the cinema horse now, we had a really good time watching three very good & completely different movies with well behaved audiences. Couldn’t have asked for more.

We had to reorganise immediately on arrival, as the 10:45 showing of The Hobbit was sold out (we found out later this was probably because the 2D showings were in very small screens!) but the reschedule worked out best for us, giving us 50 mins between each film instead of the first two following through immediately.

I think three films in a day is definitely our limit but, that said, enjoyed every second spent reacquainting ourselves with our love of the pictures.

A Business Guide To Planning Space Missions

Prometheus

Spoiler warnings for Prometheus!

So I saw Prometheus twice last week, and as a film it’s fine but bits of it really rankled me. Some things just dont make sense, especially since the whole Prometheus mission is supposed to be a scientific one. I think Cory Doctorow (yes, I’ve a huge hard on for Doctorow, get over it) got it right when he said:

science fiction films are visually consistent, not logically consistent (the opposite of science fiction novels, which is why I’m a pain in the ass to take to sf movies)

(It’s totes worth reading the review of Prometheus Mr. Doctorow is referring to as well.)

What I didn’t realise though, is that everything entirely makes sense IF you understand the internal workings of the Weyland corporation. I’ve managed to get hold of this Weyland email which illustrates exactly why all that dumb stuff that happens in the movie actually makes perfect sense…


From: [Corporate Services] corporate@weyland.com
To: [Scientific Division Managment {SCIMAN-LIST}] sciman-list@weyland.com
Subject: URGENT: Updated Guidelines for Mission Planning
Date: 08/03/2088 10:37:15

It has come to our attention that some staff are failing to correctly implement company-wide Best Practice procedures when planning new interplanetary scientific projects. Please take 5 minutes to familiarise yourself with the following updated considerations from the new Scientific Interplanetary Investigative Venture Management Guidelines [rev: 3]:

  • When assessing the viability of an interplanetary scientific mission, it’s perfectly fine to accept ‘because we think so’ as
    justification
  • Unmanned preliminary missions are for losers; rubes are cheap
  • Quarantine is optional, flamethrowers are cheaper and much quicker
  • Always hire a captain that is indifferent to the mission. The longer he’s working the more expensive it is!
  • Don’t let the crew meet before locking them up together for several years, things may be boring for them otherwise
  • When picking a scientific team, make sure their UTPTWTF (urge to poke things with their fingers) rating is very high, they’ll never get anything done otherwise!
  • The buddy system is pointless, NEVER use it. The same goes for headcounts
  • Make sure women make up less than 25% of the crew
  • Encourage your employees to remove their helmets at every opportunity. Recharging those oxygen tanks is expensive
  • Always have plenty of quality classic black & white movies for your android. Abbot and Costello come highly reccomended
  • If you must leave staff in a creepy alien building overnight, make sure you do not record or monitor them, they need their privacy too!
  • If providing a high quality, expensive medical suite; make sure it only works for men. Always keep it stocked with plenty of staples
  • Do NOT tell your prospective crew anything about the mission before they head off. If partners of your crew need to know where they’re going for several years, a shrug or dunno is standard practice
  • If you are sending a high-level manager on the mission, make sure they have no interpersonal skills and no management oversight; also make sure they cannot run sideways. This is a choice position for that board member you never got on with
  • Don’t bother providing any prohylactics for the crew, they’ll probably crash or get eaten anyway so why worry?
  • Make sure your android is as creepy as possible, and make sure to install the english accent pack
  • The ship’s lifeboat need only travel 50 meters without crashing, any further is considered a bonus

We feel these procedures will produce many more profitable avenues for WEYLAND to explore. For further information I suggest thoroughly reviewing the Strategic Management Update Guidelines – General Information [rev: 7] (SMUG-GI7) umbrella documentation.
Thank you for your time.

Darren Linehold MBA MUSSBC
Head of Business Continuity
Corporate Services Division

WEYLAND Industries
x62970