Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) -vs- The Blair Witch Project (1999)

October 20, 2011 Arthur Tiersky

Ingredients:
One hand-held camera. (Shake well.)
An ominous, mostly unseen supernatural force making largely off-camera mischief.
Lots of improvised bickering.
No stars, no music, nothing to suggest that any money was spent on anything.
An abruptly violent downer ending.
Blend for approximately 90 minutes, and presto! You’ve whipped up your very own POV horror flick! […]

The White Ribbon (2009) -vs- The Last Station (2009)

February 23, 2010 Sherry Coben

Over the fifteen months preceding the first world war, a series of increasingly strange events unfold in a tiny German town. (In this hamlet, something’s rotten in the state of Germany, not Denmark.) The denizens are not individual characters so much as monstrous archetypes; the landed baron a controlling overlord who gradually loses control, the doctor a cold, cruel, and sexually perverse father, the pastor sexually repressed and physically abusive to his many children, the schoolteacher ineffectual, romantic, and somewhat distracted. The children are beaten and tortured, molested and abandoned, mistreated and punished for every infraction. The women are muzzled, abused, and dispatched with not much fanfare. Even the crops suffer brutal beheadings, and the pets savagely killed. In revenge, they act out their dark fantasies, traveling in a creepy Children-of-the-Corn-style pack, walking in an ominously straight line, visiting mysterious cruelties on the different, the Other. All this ritualized punishment rains down on the entire town; initially, the town looks normal, but soon the bucolic vistas yield to a slow motion horror movie, all portent and unease.
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The Wolfman (2010) -vs- The Wolf Man (1941)

February 22, 2010 Mark Sanchez

Werewolf movies, like roaches, don’t know how to die. The idea of a thick pelt, fangs and a taste for blood spawned seven decades of cinema lycanthropes with uneven results. Now it’s Benicio Del Toro’s turn. “The Wolfman” just hit the screen after multiple re-shoots and reedits amid sniping that the Hairy One just wasn’t beastly enough. You’ll recognize a familiar – and highly modified – storyline buried under the computer-generated effects, fog-shrouded moors and insistent sound track.
“The Wolfman” wants to sink its canines into the gold standard of the werewolf franchise, “The Wolf Man” from 1941. That movie defined the career of Lon Chaney Jr. career and made him a star. Here’s the ‘Smackdown: Does “The Wolfman” raise the bar.. or fall in with the rest of the pack?
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Quarantine (2008) -vs- Cloverfield (2008)

February 7, 2010 Rodney Twelftree

Sometimes, it’s the reality of a scenario that scares us the most. Film-makers are turning to more and more alternate methods of delivering a film to jaded, YouTube-obsessed audiences. With the two films on offer in this Smackdown, we delve into the world of “found footage” cinema and its gradual proliferation among the mainstream today. One, “Cloverfield,” takes us into New York city during a terrifying alien attack. The other, “Quarantine,” (a remake of a successful Spanish film entitled “REC” from 2007) delivers the story of a group of apartment residents, some fire-fighters, police, and a news crew, who become trapped inside a block of units when they are sealed in to stop the spread of a mysterious virus. Both are filmed in the Single Camera Perspective. Both are equally gripping. Both are filled with images and moments that will stay with the viewer forever. But which is better: alien attack and mass destruction, or simple, human drama played out with feverish speed and incalculable terror?
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Pandorum (2009) -vs- Event Horizon (1997)

October 6, 2009 Bryce Zabel

Ever since “Alien” showed the dark side of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” filmgoers have been disabused in one film after another of any thought that going where humans haven’t gone before can be a noble journey. Cold, hostile, horrific space, set in the middle of this century — that’s our Smackdown …
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