Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Four Horror Movies of The Apocalypse

Always a fan of an interesting blogathon, I found out about this one being hosted by “Cinematic Katzenjammer” thanks to The Gore Report over at “French Toast Sunday”. This one is especially cool seeing how it requires participants to pick four movies to represent each of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Despite the title, the rules of this blogathon do allow for movies outside of the horror genre to be chosen, which is something I have chosen to do here, while at the same time only choosing films I would write about here. So allow me to now present the movies representing the horsemen for me.

War - Starship Troopers

There is no doubting that “Starship Troopers” is the embodiment of war. Here is a film which takes frenzied battlefields aswell as the gruelling training of boot camp and transfers it into a sci-fi setting as we follow a group of friends recruited into various parts of the intergalactic war machine when earth enters into an interstellar war with the insectoid “Arachnids” in much the same way that James Cameron did for the Vietnam war when he made “Aliens”. Here though Verhoeven uses the underused sub-genre of Military Sci-fi to high certain aspects of American society as he plays around with fascist imagery while he also describes the movie “Let’s all go to war and let’s die”.

Throughout the film Verhoeven gives us various war film elements, even adapting his species of Arachnid to play various military roles from the swarming Bugs (Foot Soldiers) to the fire breathing and lumbering tanks (Heavy Artilery), elsewhere he fills the film with mock newsreels and propaganda films, while Verhoenen forever the agitator used Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda film “Triumph of the Will” for inspiration when crafting the opening recruitment advertisement for the mobile infantry, something rather fitting considering how similar the iconography and uniforms seen throughout are to the Nazi’s especially when it comes to the intelligence division. All in all This is war, just on a very different battlefield.

Pestilence – Dawn of The Dead (2004)

Okay I know, I know I have no doubt committed a cardinal sin in opting for the Zack Snyder remake over the George A. Romero classic, but I do feel that if any film shows the chaos of an expected virus outbreak in the human population it is this film. Even more so when Snyder treats the zombie outbreak as a disease, with a focus on symptoms aswell as how the disease is transmitted all things barely glanced at in the original, which focused more on survival and containment.

Switching almost without warning from a suburban daydream to an apocalyptic nightmare, we are taken along with Ana as her world into thrown into chaos as she battles to escape from her house while all around her chaos reigns as the living soon succumb to this rapidly transferred zombie virus, while the sheet scale of the devastation is only further reinforced by the opening credits, which show cities falling into anarchy as the infection continues to be passed from one person to another, with no sign of salvation anywhere to be seen.

Famine – The Hole

Perhaps not the most extreme example of famine I could have chosen it’s true especially when the most obvious example would be to opt for Christian Bale’s shocking weight loss antics in “The Machinist” or perhaps Stephen King’s “Thinner”. Instead I opted for this film bizarrely over looked film which not only features memorable performances from both Thora Birch and Daniel Brocklebank but also memorably gruesome deaths for Laurence Fox and Keira Knightley which seeing how grating I find them, only adds to the appeal of this film.

Here the famine element is imposed on the group who duck out of a school field trip to instead hide out in an abandoned fallout shelter, while being locked inside by Liz’s (Birch) friend Martyn (Brocklebank). However when he doesn’t return to release them their supplies soon start getting low, a situation the film unflinchingly watches unfold as the group slowly begin to starve to death, especially the psychological aspects as the claustrophobic nature of the bunker only adds to the tension slowly being cranked up. At the same time though as the events are replayed by Liz it soon becomes apparent that not everything might not be as its seen, as the film slowly reveals what exactly happened in the hole.

Death – Kill Bill

True the most obvious choice would have been to choose one of the “Final Destination” films but if we are looking at one character who is essentially death incarnate it would be “The Bride” as she sets out on her quest for revenge against Bill and the members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. This comparison is especially true for Vol.1 where it seems that anyone who stands in her way is soon set to meet a painful end one way or another, be it a opportunist coma ward orderly Buck or the members of the Crazy 88’s whose battle with the Bride even now is still one of the standout moments (of oh so many) of Quentin Tarantino’s career.

Needless to say be it by by Hatori Hanzo sword or bootknife, The Bride certainly proves herself to be as deadly as she is beautiful, but like the black mambo she takes her codename from death is always close by.

Bonus: Conquest – War of the Worlds

Okay while most people would reel of War, Famine, Pestilence and Death if asked to name the four horsemen of the apocalypse, it would be unlikely that many (if any) would name Conquest who was part of the original line up, only to later be replaced by Pestilence (either that or he quit before they became famous). So perhaps if only as an excuse to include one more movie, especially this movie I choose to include it as part of my line up.

Bringing back fond childhood memories every time I watch it, while also being a sold adaptation of one of my favourite books, this well-known tale of invaders from Mars invading the Earth only to be defeated when mankind seemed doomed by microscopic bacteria is perfectly brought to the screen, even if the tripods are exchanged for sleek flying machines (some argue they use invisible legs) while also bringing the books setting forward to 1950. The aliens here care little for co-habiting Earth, having burnt out their resources on their home planet, their focus is solely on the conquest of Earth and making it their new home planet. These ideas would later be carried over and explored further in the TV series, but when it comes to conquering alien forces “War of the Worlds” is the definitive story.

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