Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Frankenstein on Film - Hammer

Frankenstein on Film - The Silents
Frankenstein on Film - Universal Part 1
Frankenstein on Film - Universal Part 2
Frankenstein on Film - Hammer

Well then. The Hammer Frankensteins are a completely different animal than the Universals were.

Universal films followed the monster, with a new doctor showing up for each sequel. Hammer went the opposite route, and followed the doc as he skulked around making and breaking various monsters. And really, the term "monster" is used pretty loosely at times--some of these, you'd pass on the street and not look at twice.

Anyway. Here's a quick look at each monster, along with its actor out of makeup.

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Let's see here. Curse's monster manages to incorporate most of Universal's tropes, while avoiding actually looking anything like their monster: He gets cobbled together from multiple corpses, ends up with a damaged brain, and shambles about killing people because he just can't help it. He eventually dies by falling into a vat of acid. Ouch. He did not deserve that.

This was Hammer's first go at Frankenstein's monster. Word is, they were nervous about potential lawsuits from Universal, so they traveled as far and as wide from Universal's look as they could get. And what they ended up with works quite well, for me. I think Christopher Lee did a nice bit of acting, using facial expression and body language to bring a nice sense of pathos into the character.

He's so dashing in that head shot, with his cigar and everything.

Hey.... A cigar!

Get it? Christopher Lee is holding a cigar, and he played the monster, and the monster has had some cigar history and....

Okay. Moving on.

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)

Revenge's monster is kind of in-name-only. I mean, technically he's a monster, as Frankenstein rules go: His body was dead and now it's alive, due to Frankenstein's tinkering. And his brain was in another body before it got into this one. But there are differences. For one thing, this guy (Karl) volunteered to have his brain put in the new body. And the new body is pretty handsome, barring the scarring (the pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle) at the brain's entry point.

Unfortunately, that new body doesn't stay handsome for long. Poor Karl suffers a brain/body rejection and ends up in a world of hurt. Right before he dies. You know, I'm pretty sure it's never a good idea to get into bed with the doc, no matter how rosy an outcome he promises. Lots of movies prove this. Just saying.

Michael Gwynn played MonsterKarl without a lot of makeup, distorting his body and features to represent physical deterioration as the plot moves along. Nice job, I thought. You might also have seen him in Village of the Damned (1960), The Deadly Bees (1966), and Scars of Dracula (1970).

The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)

What happened here?

I'll tell you what happened. By this time Hammer had become fairly chummy with Universal, who gave them the nod to go ahead and do something a little closer to the Jack Pierce makeup design. And this is what Hammer came up with. I don't know exactly what they used to create the look, but when I see the image above, "paper mache" and "dried mashed potatoes" spring to mind. (That's just me.)

The monster was played by a relatively unknown wrestler from New Zealand--Ernie "Kiwi" Kingston. He was 6' 5" but had never worked as an actor, so I'm guessing the big draw for using him here was height and physique.

Anyway. In this movie, he's supposed to be the original monster from Curse, who didn't REALLY dissolve in a big vat of acid, but was shot instead, and then fell off of a cliff and was frozen in a glacier. (Confused much, anyone?) And he pretty much spends this movie shuffling around and killing on demand.

Feels like Hammer was trying to go back 20 years and do a shoddy recreation of one of the the more tepid 40s franken-films. Meh.

Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

Okay. Radical departure, here. No cobbled together corpses. No brain transplants. No shambling, mute, imbecilic engines of destruction. Woman's "monster" is a young lady who recently committed suicide. She did this because her lover had almost-as-recently been framed for murder and unjustly executed. (Of course the execution was unjust, if he was framed. Captain Obvious.)

Now generally, things like suicides and executions lead to a pretty evident and finalized state. But generally, Doc Frankenstein doesn't happen to be practicing nearby. And what is he working on these days? Why, trapping souls after physical death, of course!

So, poor Christina (that's her name) ends up getting physically revived before her soul has left her body, then has her lover's soul forced into her body as well. Wow. Crowded. So this leads her, under the lover's influence, to seduce and kill the three guys who had originally framed him. Once that's done, his soul floats away and leaves her to herself, wherein she promptly commits suicide again. Huh.

This was really a pretty unusual take on the whole Frankenstein myth, interesting and well done, I think. Christine was played by Susan Denberg, who is apparently known more for her body than her acting: When I searched for a head shot to go along with her monster portrait, I got mostly "body" shots--guess she did a fair amount of nude modeling. At any rate, there's not much difference between her in and out of makeup, due to her character's general lack of monster-y-ness.

Frankenstein Must be Destroyed (1969)

Another fairly unmonster-y monster, here. This is basically a guy (Frederick) who is insane, which the doc wants to cure through brain surgery. Trouble is, he ends up having a heart attack before doc can do it, so doc procures (read as "murders someone to get") a new body for Fred's brain to reside in.

Well, when Fred wakes up, all cured of his insanity and stuff, and finds himself stuck in someone else's body, he's pissed. First thing he does is try to reconcile with his wife, who of course doesn't recognize him and warns him off with much screaming, etc. So then he sits down and has a think about things and decides he's truly screwed. Can't go back to his wife. Can't return to his profession. He's alive but without his life. So he decides to kill the doc in retaliation, but dies himself in process. Of course.

What would actually happen if one of Frankenstein's creations survived and went on to live a happy and productive life? Would the universe implode? That would be cool. The happy life, not the implosion.

Destroyed's monster was played by Freddie Jones, a pretty recognizable character actor who's been doing films and television since the early 60s. Other than the sewn-on skull, unshaven face and general look of desperation, his monster shot and head shot are fairly indistinguishable. Truth be known, I couldn't find a head shot for him, so I just grabbed a random character shot from another, more normal-looking, role he'd played.

The Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

Horror takes us back to the more familiar scarred, cobbled together, brain damaged monster people naturally think of when they hear the word "Frankenstein." Hammer kinda-sorta did the square top/Jack Pierce thing, here. I think it looks better than the sad attempt made in Evil, at any rate.

This particular movie was really a reboot--Hammer retelling their original Frankenstein story, and was fairly forgettable. The monster spent most of his screen time stomping off to kill whoever the Baron told him to, and generally just looking menacing.

The actor's head shot here is actually Dave Prowse on-set during filming, a good five or six years before his role as Darth Vader in Star Wars. Dave was 6' 6" and a champion bodybuilder, so Hammer obviously wanted him for his body. But he did already have a few (really) minor acting credits under his belt, before he did this film.

One of these acting credits was, trivia drum roll please, a quick bit as Frankenstein's monster in 1967s Casino Royale.

Weird, right? I'll bet he had this photo in hand when he inquired about the Hammer job. I would.

Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1973)

Hell was the last Frankenstein movie Hammer did. This monster design was certainly the most inhuman, bestial looking they'd ever come up with. Weirdly, in spite of the monster's obviously inhuman appearance, he was presented in the story as a normal, average guy. Named Schneider.

Well. He was presented as a big, hairy, insane, murderous guy named Schneider, but you get my drift: Nobody in the movie was saying "Hey, there's a horrifying, missing link, ape man thing--he's already quite monster-y--let's make him even more so!" They were just like "Oh, there's Herr Schneider, the convicted mass murderer in his cell over there. Let's use his body to make a monster with," like they might just as easily have chosen some spindly little bald guy. Weird to me.

Turns out Herr Schneider's monster was played (wait for it...) by Dave Prowse, who by this time was probably being called "Frank" by all his friends. Hammer knew when they had a good thing, and a 6' 6" bodybuilder is definitely a good thing when you're making monster movies.

I included a different head shot for Dave here, just for fun. It was taken several years after he made this movie, obviously.

And there we have it. The Hammer Frankenstein monsters.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Frankenstein on Film - Universal (Part 2 of 2)

Frankenstein on Film - The Silents
Frankenstein on Film - Universal Part 1
Frankenstein on Film - Universal Part 2
Frankenstein on Film - Hammer

Okay. So I think this post will be a little shorter than Universal Part One. Partly because that one took waaaay longer to write up than I wanted it to, and partly because... well, I just have less to say about these films than I did the earlier ones.

By this time, the monster had become a full fledged franchise--designed to be attached to a film, get the film churned out, and make some money--which mindset affected the way the monster was portrayed: less artistry and more "git-r-done."

Still fun to look at, though. Not AS fun. But fun.

So, this post will look at the last four films in the series: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

Once again, the photos I'm using here are a mix of publicity stills and actual scenes from the films, and most of the images I'm using came from one of these sites: Dr. Macro's High Quality Movie Scans, Classic Movie Monsters and Universal Monsters Tribute.

And remember, the idea here is not to review the films per se, but to compare these aspects of the monster across the films:
  • a close up of the monster's face (differences in makeup design, etc.)
  • the monster's full figure (comparing costuming and such)
  • the monster's size alongside another person
  • the monster alongside the actor who played it
Although, I may not be able to keep myself from commenting on the films themselves from time to time. Okay. Let's get to it.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

The Mug Shot:

Daggers are coming out of my eyes. Right... now.

I just re-watched Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man the other night, to refresh my memory of the monster's scenes, and I was reminded of how little monster there really is in this movie, considering his name is right there in the title. Which monster-meagerness is apparently due to a couple of reasons.

Reason one is that test audiences sort of laughed at the monster speaking with Lugosi's Hungarian accent. And by sort of, I mean a lot. So, the studio decided to, ah, remove every shot of the monster speaking, from the film. Wow. Drastic. Now, I don't know how many scenes that amounted to, but it had to affect the storyline negatively, in addition to whittling down the monster's screen time.

Reason two, which may or may not have affected screen time but is damn irritating regardless, the monster was written and performed as being blind (which blindness had occurred near the end of the previous movie). But. The studio also decided to remove all reference to the blindness, which left a monster acting like he was blind for no apparent reason throughout this film. Which added to the weird, out-of-sync feel I had watching the thing.

Aside: You know, one of the fun things about writing purely for my own enjoyment is that I get to write just exactly what I want, even if it doesn't make perfect sense grammatically or thematically. Like making reason number two for less screen time have possibly little or nothing at all to do with screen time. Let me tell you, for a guy making his living as a technical writer--mucking about here, doing whatever the hell I want to do on the page, is pure nirvana. Anyway. Back to the monster. :End Aside

So what we ended up with, here, was what (I assume) started as a film pretty evenly matched--insofar as screen time is concerned--between Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man, but ended up being a movie about the Wolf Man, with a few confusing monster scenes sprinkled around in it. Which is irritating to me, 'cause it's a pet peeve of mine, having potentially decent films mucked up by studio executive types who have no idea what they're doing at the level of actual film making. Hell, it's a pet peeve of mine when they do that to a film that's NOT potentially decent. Not that I know for a fact it was the executive types that made the decision, here. I'm just choosing to make it a fact in my own mind when it may be NOTHING OF THE SORT.

Okay. Five paragraphs into the Mug Shot and I haven't said a word about it. And I'm talking about the movie when I made a point of saying earlier that I wasn't going to write about the movies, just the monster in them. But I had to get that off my chest.

The mug shot: I had a tough time finding a decent closeup of the monster for this film. (Which closeup you can easily see, way up there, six paragraphs above this sentence.) The one I ended up with is a particularly unflattering shot, but it illustrates nicely the idea I brought up in the previous post, that the further you get (with the actor) from Karloff-like features, the worse-looking monster you end up with.

Lugosi had an exquisite Dracula face. But his rounded 1930s European leading man features did NOT mesh with the squarish design that Jack Pierce originally created with Karloff. And it was still Jack Pierce doing the makeup at this point, by the way. As far as IMDB tells me, anyway.

Here's a little experiment: Look at the mug shot above and put your hand in front of it so you can only see the top half of the monster's head. Looks pretty good, right? Now move your hand so you can only see the bottom half. Still looks pretty good, if not particularly Frankenstein's monster-like. But you pull that hand away to see the whole thing at once? There's a disconnect, and your brain says "Frankenstein's monster--no wait, not Frankenstein's monster--no--it is--but wait--not quite...."

There you have it. Experiments do not lie. I'd have to say, in my comparison-loving mind and heart, this movie's monster is the worst of the lot. It just doesn't work. And yes, that forehead scar has changed again.

While this movie's monster is the stuff of nightmares for all the wrong reasons, there are some monster scenes in the movie that work better than others. Know why? Cause there were several scenes with people other than Lugosi playing the monster. Wikipedia says between one and three additional people. Here's one of 'em. The guy's got a better face for the makeup than Lugosi did.

I have a square, monster-like chin. And a previously broken nose.

Let's see how Wolf Man's monster fared at full-length.

The Full-Length Cadaver Shot:

Pretty sure that belt is way above belly button height. Just saying.

Well. He does look better at long-range than he does in the closeup. Whoa, that belt line is riding high. Nothing really weird about the costume as a whole though; it's the basic black that was used and worked in all the others.

Barring the unfortunate Wooly Teddy Bear look they went for in Son of Frankenstein:

Who is cuddlier? It's a TIE!

Anyway. To be fair, none of the things mucking up the monster's monster-ness in Wolf Man are the actor's fault. I'm placing blame, as blame goes, squarely on studio/filmmaker decisions. I guess "blame" is a strong word. It was what it was. People making a fast buck; any cool creative stuff they might've snuck in was (a distant) second in importance. Sigh.

Well. Was the monster in Wolf Man at least gigantic?

The Oversize Or Not Shot:

Regular-sized monster, who thinks he's blind but isn't, feeling his way along the caverns.

No. He was not. We're back to the Son of Frankenstein days of not even bothering to find a box for the old fellow to stand on. Above we see Wolf Man Talbot and the monster, with the monster LOOMING over Talbot by a good two inches. Yawn.

I daresay Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man's monster was pretty unmonstrous in about every way imaginable. But we're not done yet. We've still got three more films to go. And even though all three had the same guy as the monster, there's still some comparing to be done.

These last three movies were all done in a four year span, so actor age changing the look wasn't a huge factor. And it looks like somebody made a point of having the monsters look as alike as possible in the first two of them. Which isn't a bad thing. Unless you're trying to compare differences between them.

Hey, here's something random and neat (random for sure; just possibly neat): You got eight films, separated into two mirror-symmetrical groups. The first set of films had Karloff playing the monster three times, followed by Chaney playing it once. Then you get Lugosi doing it once, followed by Glenn Strange playing it three times. You've got a 3 + 1 followed by a 1 + 3. Ooh, I like that. It's just how my brain works. No apologies.

Moving on to the next film.

House of Frankenstein (1944)

The Mug Shot:

I am a monster and I am holding a flashlight under my chin. BOO!

So. This is a couple of steps up from Wolf Man's monster. It's even a step up from Ghost's monster, two films back. It's nowhere near the artistry we saw in Frankenstein and Bride, but it's definitely heading back in the right direction. Glenn Strange had a better face for the makeup than either of the two previous actors did.

Check out this life mask he had taken for makeup development. He was a big guy, 6' 5" and maybe 220 pounds. Not musclebound and not super slim. His face is actually a good starting point for the Universal monster, overall. Has a big, fleshy kind of look to it. Very different from Frankenstein's inverted triangle (see Universal Part 1 for more on that), this face has mass that goes toe to toe with Ghost's mug shot, but it also has some long to go with it's wide, so you don't end up with pinchably round cheeks like Ghost's monster had. I like it.

And, you know, HofF's monster has it's own version of Frankenstein's "I am a monster through no fault of my own and I am very sad about it" vibe, too. A kind of not-happy-to-be-back-from-the-dead melancholy the first couple of films had, that went away later on.

But if I had to liken this monster's closeup to any of the others, it'd be Bride's. They both have that big, blocky, menacing thing going for them. Okay.

Let's take a look at this monster's full-body.

The Full-Length Cadaver Shot:

Former glory, here I come!

Huh. Not bad. Looks pretty massive and monstery. Also similar to Bride's. By the way, at this point, the whole monster sticking his arms out in front of himself had become "the way it's done." Never mind it was initially to indicate the monster was blind and feeling his way around the room. Said Monster blindness really only existed, plot wise, in the last few minutes of The Ghost of Frankenstein, but the straight-armed thing ended up sticking around.

That being said, the movie itself was fairly entertaining. It wasn't A movie material, story-wise, but it was solid B movie fare. Boris Karloff did a really nice job playing vengeful-ex-convict-scientist Niemann, and J. Carrol Naish did an amazing job playing hopeful-then-vengeful-hunchbacked-ex-convict-scientist's-assistant. Really amazing--the movie's worth watching for that alone.

So far our new monster is stacking up pretty well to days gone by. But how'd he do in the giant-ness department? Let's take a look.

The Oversize Or Not Shot:

Stay back, copper, or the doc here gets it!

I searched and searched for a decent production still with HofF's monster next to an average fella. The monster had even less screen time here than he did in Wolf Man, and most of it was spent on a slab. Finally just went with a screen shot of the monster and the mad doc (or the mad doc's stunt double, at least). And what it tells us is that...

...the monster did okay in the giant-ness department. At least, compared to the last film. But it was entirely through actor's merits, I'm afraid. While this movie and those that followed didn't lift a filmatic finger to make the monster look bigger than life, Mr. Strange did what he could to take care of that himself. The fellow was six and a half feet tall in his stocking feet, after all. Give him the same five inches we've given to all the other actors in makeup, and he's standing about 6' 10". Not too far from the seven foot minimum-for-respectability my mind has decided on for the monster.

So filmmakers lose points for not trying to give the monster even a little more height than Strange brought to the role, but Strange himself get points for, well, being a big guy and using that to the monster's advantage. Okay, I guess filmmakers get some credit, for choosing Strange in the first place. I am an equitable man.

On to the House of Dracula.

House of Dracula (1945)

The Mug Shot:

Don't come in! I'm nekkid! (Get it? NECK-id?)

Holy cow that monster's neck looks sooo looong right now! But rest assured he's pretty much identical to the monster in the previous film. The two were only released a year apart, and with the same actor and makeup artist (still Jack Pierce after all this time) for both monsters, they were bound to be twinners.

I'm pretty sure this movie gave the monster the very, very least amount of screen time of any of the Universals. His screen time had been declining ever since he started sharing his films with other beasties, starting with the Wolf Man. But he was barely in this film at all. And most of the time he did have on screen was spent lying around unconscious. Lame.

The Full-Length Cadaver Shot:

I am lurking about in the House of Franken--er, DRACULA!

Like I said, pretty much identical monsters in these last two films. I'm just going off faith and the photo's caption to know that this Cadaver Shot isn't actually from the previous movie. Still, he looks good though, huh?

The Oversize Or Not Shot:


More of the same, here, bigness-wise. Nobody at the film's creative level is doing anything to make this monster larger than average, but Strange's real life height comes to the rescue again. 6' 2" Talbot and 6' 10" monster menacing each other. Wait, I guess Talbot has been cured (again) of his Wolf Man-ism by this point in the movie, so he can't really be very menacing to the monster, even with a gun. Guess it's the monster doing the menacing, then. It's nice to see the monster having a little headroom, in this set of films, regardless of how he came about it.

So, while there were a few unintentionally funny bits (for modern viewers, anyway) in some of these Universal films over the years, they were always played as straight up horror films, at least to this point. That (sadly, in my mind) changed with the next--and final--entry for the series.

  Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

The Mug Shot:

Sleepy... I am getting SLEEPY... I mean, YOU are getting... oh, damn it.

This movie was designed from the ground up to be a horror-comedy. Now, I'm not a fan of horror-comedies in general, but this one is regarded pretty favorably. And, having seen it myself, it IS reasonably funny at times, even with my not being naturally attracted to such things. I enjoyed House of Frankenstein's straight up B movie horror-ness more than I liked what was well done attempt at A-List horror-comedy, here. But that's just me.

So. Let's take a look at Abbott and Costello's monster.

The big news here is that Jack Pierce, who had done makeup for every film we've looked at in the series so far, was gone for this one. He was replaced by Bud Westmore, a talented and well known makeup guy, known for his work on films like Creature From the Black Lagoon and This Island Earth. He didn't use Pierce's artistic build-it-up-from-scratch approach, favoring the newfangled (read as cheaper and quicker) rubber appliance approach. It led to a simpler look for the monster, overall, but he threw in his own changes to mark his territory as well.

Such as, you ask?

Let's see: that forehead scar has changed quite a bit from what it had more or less been, over the last few movies. And the neck bolts are a lot higher than they were. And, while it's not as apparent from the photos I have here (but having just re-watched the movie), I'd swear that his flat top forehead is considerably higher than in previous films.

The monster's eyelids look like they might be heavier, too. And I think his hair, at the sides of his head, had always run more or less vertically. But here, it looks like it's been brushed straight back. Also, the monster's always had maybe two staples visible at the top of his forehead, now he's got several. And I think the black of each of his lips is thicker, top to bottom, than previously.

Whew! That's a lot of little changes, all at once. But even so, the monster still looks like himself. Hmm. This mug shot reminds me a little of the Frankenstein mug shot alternate:

They both have that sense of... dim-witted pathos, for lack of a better phrase. A similar feel amid a lot of little, and not so little, physical differences.

Full length?

The Full-Length Cadaver Shot:

The monster picks up a few extra bucks working as a mime on the Universal back lot.

Again, no surprises, and isn't it nice to see our monster with his arms and hands somewhere other than straight out in front of him? Wow. Those boots are the fake-est, most movie-prop-iest boots I have ever seen on the monster. I bet they were also the most comfortable to wear, though. And that outfit is CLEAN. No stomping around in forests and swamps for this guy. At least, not on picture day.

Okay. One last size comparison....

The Oversize Or Not Shot:

We're so SCARY! And FUNNY!

Looks like a scene from a Scooby Doo cartoon. Which pretty much fits the movie's vibe, I guess.

I don't know for sure, but I'm thinking that the monster's boots, as well as his new Westmore foam rubber head appliance, are taller than they were in the last two movies. If so, our monster might just have grown that extra couple of inches he needed to get to his long ago publicized seven feet of height. Looks like it could be the case, from this shot, anyway. Then again, Abbot and Costello were 5' 8" and 5' 5", respectively. So maybe that's all I'm seeing, here.

Welp. That's it. Last film in the series has been monster-compared. All in all, I'd say the monster started off high in Frankenstein and Bride, then slid down over the course of Son and Ghost to his all time low in Wolf Man, followed by a moderate rise in glory with HofF, HofD, and ACmF. Never did reach his first heights, but the monster in those last few movies had his own low rent charm.

The End. Of my Universal Frankenstein's Monster comparison. w00t!

The Head Shot(s):

Look at that: The man just oozes Dracula. There is no monster oozing, though.

But not quite the end. We have these head shots to look at right quick. Amazing that such a handsome fellow as Lugosi was could look so wrong in that makeup.

Glenn Strange: The Comeback Kid. Get it? Cause he helped the monster make a comeback?

Man, I couldn't find any shots of Strange completely out of character, so a cowboy picture had to do. I think he was a little heavier by the time he was doing his monster roles. Anyway.

This! Is! Now! The! End! Really!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sector 7 (2011)

Come ON, people. The movie wasn't that bad.

The Review (kind of. less a review and more of a... stream of consciousness, ranty kind of a thing.)

So I read, or at least skimmed, *fourteen* reviews for this thing. Thirteen of those reviews panned the film and one said "eh, it was okay."

I don't understand. Sure, it had plot holes. And the CGI wasn't top notch. It wasn't a perfect movie by anyone's standards. But c'mon, the damn thing was fun to watch. You know, that often-overlooked-by-critics aspect of the filmatic experience, the part where you just sit back and enjoy watching it?

This movie was: Fun. To. Watch. So everybody should just get off their dang hidey-horses-what-the-hell-is-a-hidey-horse and let this movie do what it was meant to do--entertain for an hour and forty five minutes.

Heck, I watched it twice. No, wait. I actually watched it three times. Huh. It really wasn't that good of a movie.

Why did I watch this thing three times?

Let's see. First time was on Netflix, when the movie came out. It was in Korean with English subs, but I had an old Roku that didn't support Netflix subtitles. Man, never underestimate the power of a good set of subtitles.

At any rate, I enjoyed it enough to want to watch it again, with a better idea of what was going on. I mean, I didn't need subtitles to get that a bunch of stranded oil rig workers were being picked off by a mutant brine shrimp looking thing. But I wanted to be a little more in the know than that.

So I set out to find it on one of the other online services. And I did find it. On Amazon, I think. But, the version I found was English dubbed.

The Beast.
Now, I hate watching foreign films when they've been dubbed into English. I could count on one hand the dubbed films I've seen that were done artfully enough to work at anything near the level of their original language with subtitles.

Though, now that I think, none are coming to mind. But I'm sure they exist. I've compared many a film, over the years, because whenever I'm unlucky enough to catch a dubbed film, I make a point of finding it again in a subtitled version. If possible. And I definitely remember being surprised a few times, when a dubbed version of some film or other happened to stand up fairly well against the subtitled version.

So, if I remembered them I'd count them. And I'm sure I'd only need one hand.

I digress.

Anyway, the English dubbed version gave me a better idea of what was going on, but the dubbing (predictably) sucked. I could tell I was missing out on all sorts of nuances the original actor's deliveries would've brought to the table.

That's the thing with dubs--even the most poorly acted scenes are going to come across with more heart and verve than almost any dubbed scene. How could they not? The actors are all actually on set, feeling the energy, getting direction, and they're invested in the project--they've signed up for the whole deal, make or break. Right? As opposed to a bunch of voice actors (if we're lucky, they're voice actors) schlepping in for a one day job? I mean, I'm sure many do their best to get in character, as much as possible, but the two settings just can't compare.

Ugh. Still digressing.

So I had decided that whatever I'd gleaned from the two versions I'd already seen was all I was gonna get. I certainly wasn't inclined to go out and buy a DVD to see a movie I'd already watched twice, subs or no subs. So that was the end of it.

Until last week. I don't even remember what made me think of it, but I did. Oh, I know what made me think of it. I finally replaced that old first generation Roku XDS with a shiny new third generation Roku LT. And let me tell you, this new bottom of the line third gen SO outperforms what was a top of the line first gen.

Ack. MORE digression. (Make it stop!)

Anyway, for whatever reason, setting up the new Roku pulled that three year old memory up to the surface and I decided to see if Sector 7 was still on Netflix. AND IT WAS.

The beast, after being shot, stabbed and burned to a crisp.
But still menacing our heroine.

So I watched it again, for the third time, and I am here to tell you it was the most enjoyable viewing yet--original Korean dialogue with English subs.

And now I'm wondering why I didn't just watch the Netflix version on a laptop, way back when. I'm pretty sure Netflix subs have always worked in a browser. Could be wrong, though.

I'm not sure why this film has been so maligned by the entire planet. I know it had a lot of expectations built up around it, by filmmakers and fans alike. I remember reading about it prior to release: bigger budget, 3-D, respected director. I was excited to see it--I'd seen The Host, like everyone else--and was looking forward to another like offering.


Maybe that was it. This film was fun to watch, but it didn't stack up to The Host. The Host was a great film. But then I don't expect every genre film I see to match the best of the lot. Maybe the world at large was expecting it to match up.

Dunno. Anyway, you should watch it if you get a chance. It's not so bad. Pretty good, even.

That's all I really wanted to say.


Ah. It's been so long since I pronounced a brain count. Feels good.

The Trailer

The Details

Directed by: Kim Ji-hoon

Produced by: Yoon Je-kyoon

Written by: Yoon Je-kyoon and Kim Hwi

Ha Ji-won as Cha Hae-joon
Oh Ji-ho as Kim Dong-soo
Ahn Sung-ki as Captain Lee Jeong-man
Park Chul-min as Do Sang-goo
Song Sae-byeok as Go Jong-yoon
Lee Han-wi as Jang Moon-hyeong
Cha Ye-ryun as Park Hyeon-jeong

Running time: 104 minutes
Country: South Korea