Dark Skies (2013) vs. Dark Skies (1996)

February 27, 2013 The FilmGuru

Who here has seen that identity thief movie? And by that we don’t mean the one in which Melissa McCarthy schools Jason Bateman on new levels of quasi-comedic rudeness, but the one that actually is an Identity Thief. Yep, we’re talking about Dark Skies — the movie about terrifying alien invaders that appropriated its genre and title from the scary, 1996-97 TV series of the same name.

In Hollywood, as in any business, a name is everything. It’s your brand, it’s who you are. The old Hill Street Blues television series had fun with this idea in a classic episode that featured a comedian named Vic Hitler who couldn’t understand why audiences didn’t buy his act. That kind of unfortunate moniker dooms an entertainer or a project to failure, while a winning name like, say, Snakes on a Plane can go a long way toward getting a film made no matter how weak the script behind it. […]

The Possession (2012) -vs- Boogeyman (2005)

August 30, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

The Possession: From the writing team and producer who brought you Boogeyman! No, not that Boogeyman, the other one. Yeah, okay, there’ve been a few, so we can understand your confusion. The 2005 Boogeyman! You know, the one with the kid from Seventh Heaven and Zooey Deschanel’s less annoyingly quirky sister? Yeah, that’s the one! Same folks!

And so ends my brief career of writing movie poster copy. But the point is, as you can see, The Possession, the new horror release from the producing shingle of the extremely busy and formerly cool Sam Raimi, comes with quite the pedigree. After Boogeyman (on which they share writing credit with Eric Kripke), screenwriting team Stiles White and Juliet Snowden would go on to pen such immortal classics as Knowing (2005) and The Proud Family Movie (2009). With The Possession, though, they return to their domestic horror roots, so what better way* to celebrate the closing of this vicious circle than with a good old-fashioned Smackdown? […]

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) -vs- Psycho (1960)

June 25, 2012 Jonathan Freund

The horror, the horror. It’s Hannibal the Cannibal and Not-Yet-Agent Starling from the Oscar-sweeping Silence of the Lambs vs. Norman Bates and the Crane Sisters in the Hitchcock masterpiece that put the word Psycho into the pop vernacular.

In addition to their enduring popularity in film schools and on screens of all sizes, these two classics of high-end terror have an astonishing amount in common. One has creepy taxidermy, while the other has creepy butterflies. Both borrow elements from the crimes of real-life serial killer Ed Gein; both, based on popular novels, were departures of sorts for their directors; both feature female protagonists who become objects of judgmental and voyeuristic males. Both films deal with disturbing memories of a dead parent. Both set their climax in a killer’s cobwebbed basement. And both feature immortal villains played by actors named Anthony ___kins in unforgettable big-screen performances. […]

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) -vs- Time After Time (1979)

June 21, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

Did you know that the Civil War was not merely the North fighting the South over the slavery issue, but that the Confederacy was actually an uprising of vampires, of whom Abraham Lincoln was actually a trained hunter? Or that H.G. Wells, author of The Time Machine, actually invented his very own such machine that enabled him to fight crime a century into the future? Or that George W. Bush is actually the reincarnation of a traitor beheaded by King Joffrey of the House of Lannister? […]

Prometheus (2012) -vs- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

June 5, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Strange artifacts are left here on Earth beckoning inhabitants to come visit superior beings and/or ancient visitors, requiring a massive undertaking to build and dispatch a mighty state-of-the-art spacecraft on a long, dangerous journey with an A.I. on board to take care of its human crew. Director Stanley Kubrick swung for the fences with this set-up over four decades ago and now it’s Ridley Scott’s turn.

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now — 2001: A Space Odyssey is a true film classic. It deserves its praise, and it deserves to be seen in any good film school program. If you haven’t seen it, you should. […]

Chernobyl Diaries (2012) -vs- Paranormal Activity (2007)

May 25, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

Overnight success Oren Peli is now a very busy man. Since writing and directing Paranormal Activity, the sleeper hit of 2009, he’s written and directed the upcoming Area 51, co-created a TV series (The River), produced or co-produced several features including two Paranormal sequels (a third is in development) and James Wan’s Insidious, and this week, we find him co-producing and sharing writing credit (with Carey and Shane Van Dyke) on the newly released The Chernobyl Diaries. To which one can only respond by asking: It took three people to write The Chernobyl Diaries? […]

Dark Shadows (2012) -vs- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

May 10, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Can Barnabas suck the blood out of Buffy or can this tough vamp of a fighter slay the hell out of this unchained vampire? While that alone might be enough of a question to guide a Smackdown, this one gets complicated by history.

Dark Shadows, as people over fifty know, began as TV then became a film. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as people under thirty know, began as a film and became a TV series. The former, in theaters now, is a derivation of its former glory, while the latter is an inspired evolution of its big-screen glory. […]

Awake (NBC) -vs- Fringe (Fox)

April 30, 2012 Mark Sanchez

It’s the lucky ones among us who get the luxury of a “do over,” a chance to take the road less traveled. Poet Robert Frost isn’t the first person to actively wonder what lies on the other side of the life we’ve made. A pair of admired TV programs work that street of possibilities, although maybe not for long.

Let’s touch on the newer and more endangered series first. NBC announced Awake as a mid-season replacement for 2012. This is a cop show with a twist that marks it as a fresh entry in a tired, overplayed genre. Propelled by advance hosannas at the Critics’ Choice Television Awards, the series premiered on March 1 to more than six million viewers, but despite the healthy start, low ratings may put Awake to sleep before it gets a shot at Season 2. […]

The Walking Dead (AMC) vs. Falling Skies (TNT)

March 7, 2012 Bryce Zabel

There’s just something about ragtag teams of extended families trying to get by after an apocalypse. It feels like a particularly American fantasy — that when the chips are down, we’ll all put aside our petty differences, realize what’s truly important and come together to kick some ass, whether it be Nazi or Commie or even alien or zombie. The point is that our melting pot really doesn’t get cooking until the heat is applied and the burner’s on high.

These two series are flagship action pieces for their respective networks — The Walking Dead came first on AMC, followed within a year by Falling Skies on TNT. The former has its second season finale this Sunday and the latter comes back this summer for its sophomore year. Both are in their prime when it comes to the life of any TV series — enough of a run to fix some early mistakes but not so much as to render the week-to-week predictable. […]

Dark Skies vs. Dark Skies

March 1, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Our “Dark Skies” has established itself in the minds of a significant number of science fiction fans as a gripping piece of conspiracy drama set in the world of UFOs and abductions. It anchored NBC’s Saturday night “Thrillogy” concept in the 1996 season premiere and starred Eric Close (“Nashville”) and the late film character actor J.T. Walsh (“Sling Blade”). Its main title design won the Emmy award and its pilot screenplay received a Writers Guild nomination. The Syfy Channel aired the entire series multiple times. Since 2010 there’s been a Facebook page where thousands of fans from many different countries push Sony for a TV revival. […]

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