JUMPSCARECUT: Bad Romance

October is synonymous with a few things: autumn leaves, pumpkin-spiced everything, Halloween, the return of The Walking Dead on TV, and more horror movies than you can wield a knife at. Not everyone has a stomach for gore or the mettle for scares though. If you’re wondering where all the romance goes when the monsters come out to play, fear not. It may not be the 14th February, but here are 14 love stories perfect for the spooky season.

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Crimson Peak (2015)

Guillermo del Toro’s 1880s-set ghost story charts the relationship between American aspiring-author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) and English baron/inventor Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). After she suffers a devastating family tragedy, she marries Thomas and moves into the dilapidated Sharpe home, a grand gothic mansion built on a hill that ‘bleeds’ red when it snows. Edith must not only compete with Thomas’ conniving sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) for his attention, but she must contend with the spirits that haunt the house.

 

La Belle et la Bête (1946)

Jean Cocteau and René Clément’s surreal tale of tragic love between a beautiful girl, Belle (Josette Day), and a gentle beast (Jean Marais), was the first adaptation of the 1757 story, Beauty and the Beast. Now considered a French classic, La Belle et la Bête presents the Beast as so repellent, Belle faints at the sight of him – not quite the sumptuously animated creature Disney drew! The story unfolds like a Grimm’s fairy tale, a brooding dark fantasy, with not a singing teapot or candelabra in sight.

 

Warm Bodies (2013)

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has been adapted to film countless times over the years. From direct adaptations, such as Franco Zeffirelli’s 1969 version and Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 modernised version, to more imaginative translations, such as West Side Story and The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride. Warm Bodies falls into the latter – a loose reworking of the classic star-crossed lovers narrative. The ‘Romeo’ of Warm Bodies is Nicholas Hoult’s zombie, known only as R, and the ‘Juliet’ is Teresa Palmer’s Julie, daughter of the U.S. Army Colonel hell-bent on eradicating the living dead once and for all. Told from the zombie’s perspective, and notably depicting the undead as retaining some human characteristics in death (un-death?), Warm Bodies will thaw even the iciest of hearts.

 

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The ending of the Universal Pictures 1931 classic, Frankenstein, is heart-breaking, as Frankenstein’s Monster (Boris Karloff) is apparently burned to death in the windmill he hides in, to escape the vicious mob chasing him. The Monster is woefully misunderstood, a lonely beast, desperate for a mate. In Bride of Frankenstein, Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Pretorious heed no moral lesson from past mistakes as they create the Bride (Elsa Lanchester), a true icon in the genre’s oeuvre. Raise a glass to “the new world of gods and monsters!”

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

Known as “the first Iranian vampire western”, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night focuses on a lonesome vampire (Sheila Vand), who spends her eternal life listening to music on vinyl, skateboarding around Bad City, and preying on men who disrespect women. One night, she meets a drugged-up, lost, Arash (Arash Marandi), and is charmed by his vulnerability and kindness. Their tentative attraction is fascinating to watch. With a soundtrack as killer as the girl herself, and shot in exquisite black and white, Ana Lily Amirpour has created a modern gem.

 

Thirst (2009)

South Korean producer/director Park Chan-wook knows a thing or two about forbidden lust – just watch Stoker or The Handmaiden. When Catholic priest Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) volunteers to participate in an experiment to find a vaccine for the deadly Emmanuel Virus, the unexpected side effects include a thirst for human blood, an extreme aversion to sunlight, and insatiable lust for his friend’s wife, Tea-ju (Kim Ok-bin). The two embark on an illicit and deadly affair, as the lines between right and wrong, monster and human, are blurred.

 

A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

Chinese folklore (as imagined by A Chinese Ghost Story) dictates that the spirit of any person buried at the foot of a tree outside the haunted Lan Ro temple will be eternally bound to the servitude of the sinister Tree Devil, whose tongue wraps around its victims to suck out their life essence. Lip Siu-sin (Joey Wong) is one of those unfortunate souls. When Ling Choi-san (Leslie Cheung) meets her ghost, it’s love at first sight, and he vows to free her from her misery. Martial arts meets phantasm meets melancholy in this supernatural tale of love and loss.

 

Spring (2014)

Romantic body horror is not a combination of words one would expect, yet perfectly describe Spring. Evan (Lou Taylor-Pucci) suffers a devastating loss that prompts him to travel to Italy, where he meets the enigmatic Louise (Nadia Hilker), a student of genetics. A creature-feature unlike any other, Louise gradually reveals her ghastly secrets to Evan, as her transformative nature is exposed.

 

The Mummy (1932)

What’s more romantic than a love that spans centuries? When British archaeologists accidentally bring Egyptian priest Imhotep (Boris Karloff) back from the dead, the last thing they expect is to sacrifice their lives in order to bring the high priest’s lover, Anck Su Namun (Zita Johann) back from the dead too. A timeless fable warning us of the perils of reading ancient runes aloud, The Mummy is oft replicated (see The Mummy of 1999, starring swashbuckling Brendan Fraser, or The Mummy of 2017, starring fearless Tom Cruise), but never bettered.

 

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Let the Right One In (2008)

Based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who also wrote the screenplay), Let the Right One In centres on the sweet relationship that blossoms between 12-year-old outcast Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) and his new mysterious neighbour Eli (Lina Leandersson). The two exchange toys and Morse code messages through their neighbouring wall, and learn over time that though they are different species (she is a vampire, he is a human), their bloodlust is not so different; he wants to kill, to seek revenge on his tormenters, whereas she needs to kill to survive. Tomas Alfredson directs the children’s disturbing bond with a tenderness and empathy that is rare.

(I urge you to seek out the original Swedish version, though the American remake, Let Me In, is intriguing in its own way.)

 

The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg’s seminal transfiguration sci-fi horror about scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) and his botched attempt at teleportation doesn’t exactly scream “romantic”. The make-up effects that turn Brundle into half-man-half-fly are gruesome. However, the love between Brundle and girlfriend Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) is so pure, that even as Brundlefly evolves fully into an tyrannical insectoid, she cries for him.

 

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

There’s been a lot of vampires on this list, which perhaps speaks to how romanticised the immortal bloodsuckers are. The love in Francis Ford Coppola’s bat-shit crazy adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is not for the titular evil, but between lawyer Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves, with one of the worst English accents put to celluloid) and his fiancée, Mina (Winona Ryder). When Count Dracula (Gary Oldman) takes a fancy to Mina for her astonishing resemblances to his sweetheart from the 15th Century, Elisabeta (also Ryder), he rabidly pursues her.

 

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Arguably the birth of the “zom-com” genre, Shaun of the Dead is the first in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, and stars Simon Pegg as the titular Shaun, a 30-something down-on-his-luck dude who realises the importance of showing his love only when the zombie apocalypse is upon him. Arming himself with a bat, he traverses across London with best friend Ed (Nick Frost) to save his mum, Barbara (Penelope Wilton) and win back his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield).

 

The Shape of Water (2017)

Bookending this list with another Guillermo del Toro romance seemed only natural given his proclivity for playing in the backyard of horror iconography. The Amphibian Man (played by the incomparable Doug Jones) may look scary with his big black eyes and scaly skin, but isolated mute Eliza (Sally Hawkins) sees past that to the scared creature within. The ‘Big Bad’ comes in the form fo Micheal Shannon’s villainous government agent, Strickland, a very human face of unsympathetic “just following orders” iniquity. A cinematic masterpiece, taking inspiration from classic sweep-you-off-your-feet grand romance, wrapped up in a brooding fantasy thriller, complimented by an epic score, The Shape of Water is perfect for the spooky season. Perfect for any season, really.

Watch This Space #1

Welcome, one and all, to the only reboot that matters this year! We’re excited to be bringing back Watch This Space – with some big changes! WTS was a weekly feature in which the team would scour UK TV guides and recommend films airing the following week. We figured we should catch up with the times and now our team will be recommending their favourite films and hidden gems on various different streaming platforms every other Friday so we can help you pick some films for your weekend!



Role Models (David Wein, 2008)

Amazon Prime UK

Tucked away in Amazon Prime’s catalogue is the 2008 comedy gem that is Role Models. The film stars the never-ageing Paul Rudd (Wheeler) and Sean William Scott (Danny) who, after Wheeler’s day continues to go from bad to worse after his girlfriend leaves him because he always focuses on the negatives in life, are both given 150 hours community service with a mentorship programme in which they both become ‘Big Brothers’ to two kids who struggle to make friends.

Role Models is still hilarious 10 years later and it’s the perfect Friday night comedy to end the week on. Bobb’e J. Thompson steals every scene he’s in as Ronnie and delivers some of the films most memorable lines, my favourite being his Ben Affleck insult to Wheeler – “Suck it, Reindeer Games”.  If you don’t have Prime UK I would still wholeheartedly recommend seeking this film out in your DVD/Blu-ray pile or other streaming sites if you haven’t seen it in a while -trust me, you won’t regret it!

Tom Sheffield

 

Cellular (David R. Ellis, 2004)

Amazon Prime UK

A new addition to Amazon Prime, Cellular is one of my favourite films. It has everything you could want; a young Chris Evans pre-superhero roles, Jason Statham as a proper baddie, and William H. Macy in a facemask. Cellular is about a high school science teacher (Kim Basinger) who is kidnapped, and after using a broken phone to call for help, she manages to connect to the mobile phone of Ryan (Evans). He’s her only hope of rescue and stopping the kidnappers going after her husband and son, and as Ryan gets into increasingly dangerous situations, Sergeant Mooney (Macy) gets involved. Admittedly the humour is very early-2000s (though “It’s a day spa you f*ck” is a fantastic line) but Cellular is still a fast-paced, action-packed film and it’s such a fun time.

Elena Morgan

 

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (Akiva Shaffer/ Jorma Taccone, 2016)

Netflix UK

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping charts the rise, fall, and rise again of Andy Samberg’s superstar rap/pop royalty, Connor4real – real name Connor Friel. Connor’s musical career begins as a member of The Style Boyz, with childhood friends Owen (Jorma Taccone) and Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer), whose hit single, “Donkey Roll,” kicks off a global dance phenomenon. Their success is short-lived, as Connor’s immense ego – don’t let his song “I’m So Humble” fool you – causes rifts in the band. The hilarious mockumentary begins as Connor’s second solo album is due for release, following an unprecedentedly successful debut solo album. What follows is 86 minutes of absurdity, stellar cameos, and banging tracks – the climactic “Incredible Thoughts” being a real stand-out song. The Lonely Island (Samberg, Taccone & Schaffer’s real-life musical comedy troupe) at their riotous best.

Sasha Hornby

Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)

Netflix UK/ Amazon Prime UK

Quentin Tarantino is a notorious filmmaker. His movies feature an often polarizing level of violence, racist language and profanity. They’re often crafted within a stylistic inch of their life and regularly push terrible people as their main protagonists (Reservoir Dogs, for example). That’s what certifies Inglourious Basterds as his magnum opus – he focuses on the incredible story of Nazi-hunting covert soldiers deep behind enemy forces, rather than indulging in too many Tarantino-isms.

That being said, the dialogue comes thick and fast, as typically expected from one of his scripts, but it’s so densely packed with historically witty observations mixed with such naturalistic dialogue that the long running time flies by. The ‘Bear Jew’ is one of the most ruthlessly cool characters put to screen, and the opening sequence is the very definition of perfection. The way Christoph Waltz establishes an uneasy friendliness and instantly switches to a chillingly frightening stare is Oscar-worthy – funnily enough, he was awarded justly for his legendary performance. An unequivocal masterpiece.

Cameron Frew

 

The Mummy Trilogy (Steven Sommers, 1999, 2001. Rob Cohen, 2008)

Netflix UK

Brendan Fraser was king of the late-90s/early-00s, with his particular brand of dashing charm best epitomised in The Mummy Trilogy. Tales of mummified beings coming back to life have been told many a time, but few on as grand a scale, or with such a sense of adventure as The Mummy (1999). The charismatic cast of Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Oded Fehr and Arnold Vosloo, as antagonist Imhotep, reprise their roles for another rambunctious race-against-time in The Mummy Returns (2001). Sure, the third and final instalment, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) leaves a lot to be desired, but its valiant attempt at a different take on ‘ancient-all-round-bad-guy-comes-back-to-end-the-world’ has to be admired. Perfect for Sunday afternoon streaming.

Sasha Hornby

 

The Invitation (Karyn Kusama, 2016)

Netflix US

As we await the release of her latest drama Destroyer this fall, it only makes sense that we go back and revisit Karyn Kusama’s 2016 gripping thriller, The Invitation. The film unveils a quietly reserved, but explosive performance from Logan Marshall Green as Will, visiting the home he once knew to attend a personal gathering invited by his ex-wife Eden and her mysterious new husband. As invitees, Will and his girlfriend begin to mingle over drinks, talk to other guests, but it’s when Eden and her husband show them a devastating piece of footage when Will’s lurking suspicions start to ring true.

A definite nail biting flick, The Invitation relies on the enclosing dread of not exactly knowing the people around you as well as you thought you did. Imagine this looming fear amplified by the uncertainty if you’ll even get out alive. With stellar performances all over from talents like Tammy Blanchard and John Carroll Lynch, this film is a pick worth your time.

Jessica Peña


We hope you enjoyed our first bunch of recommendations! If you do watch anything we’ve recommended this week, be sure to let us know on Twitter – @JUMPCUT_ONLINE

The Odysseys 2017: 2017 Retrospective

As we begin to get things underway for our annual awards event, The Odysseys, we’ve created a little something to remind you of just some of the films to grace our cinema screens this year, and also a possible look at films you’ll likely see mentioned in this year’s awards show.

Please feel free to share, leave feedback, and enjoy our 2017 retrospective!

More details about The Odysseys, including public nominations and upload date, will be available soon… 

The Mummy

Year: 2017
Directed by: Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis

Written by Rhys Bowen Jones

18 years after Brendan Fraser’s ‘The Mummy’ surprised us all by actually being good and fun, we have a re-imagining of ‘The Mummy’ as the first instalment of Universal’s planned Dark Universe. Dark Universe is meant to be a shared cinematic universe (how many of those have come and gone since Marvel near perfected the formula?) of some of cinema’s most iconic monsters, including The Invisible Man, The Wolfman, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. There is a lot of star power behind this incoming franchise, led by Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. On paper, the conceit could be a fun one, but frankly, after ‘The Mummy’, the Dark Universe is already off to a rocky start.

When an ancient tomb and sarcophagus is discovered long-buried under Iraq, our heroes Nick Morton (Cruise) and Jennifer Halsey (Wallis) are tasked with transporting the sarcophagus to London for investigation and analysis. En route, disaster strikes as the contents of the sarcophagus, an Ancient Egyptian princess by the name of Princess Ahmanet (Boutella), is awoken and hell-bent on taking Earth for her own. Beyond that, we have a search for a MacGuffin or two, and a meeting with a mysterious figure (Crowe) who knows all too much about Ahmanet and her quest for world destruction.

For my money, despite its fairly damning reviews since its release, I didn’t find ‘The Mummy’ to be wholly without merit. Tom Cruise has, deservedly, earned himself the title of Hollywood’s go-to movie star, and he does everything he can to sell this film. Cruise is evidently having a lot of fun as he does Tom Cruise things. Whether it’s rolling around a plummeting plane, swimming away from swimming mummies (you heard), or legging it from an incoming giant face-made-of-sand in the middle of London, ‘The Mummy’ hits all the beats of your typical Tom Cruise film. Ultimately, the film is almost astoundingly generic, but when it’s “Tom Cruise generic”, you know you’re in for an entertaining time at least.

The film is also surprisingly funny in parts, using physical comedy and occasionally embracing the ridiculousness of the film. Sadly though, these funny parts are in direct contrast to much of the action on screen, which is where ‘The Mummy’ begins to unravel. Hold your applause.

‘The Mummy’ is tonally all over the place. The film regularly jumps from mysterious, Nathan Drake style tomb investigation to a scene from a horror film to the characters having friendly banter in a pub. One of the lead characters meets an untimely end in the first third of the film and their death is treated as something of a joke after the character who killed them accidentally fires a third shot. ‘The Mummy’ is a film that doesn’t entirely know what it wants to be. It even earned a 15-rating in the UK for sustained threat, but it never fully utilised its rating. In a film primarily linked to a horror character, you want more than the occasional jump scare, only a few of which are actually effective.

The key problem with ‘The Mummy’ is it tries to do too much in one film. It tries so hard to set up its own cinematic universe after so confidently opening the film with a Dark Universe title card that it forgets some of the fundamentals of making a good film.

Now, setting up the Dark Universe wasn’t entirely unsuccessful as I found a mid-point scene involving Crowe and Cruise the highlight of the film. Crowe’s, without giving too much away, alternate ego is a hugely entertaining 5 minutes that above all showed Crowe having fun. Crowe is handed an incredibly exposition-filled role as he explains to Morton and Halsey what exactly Ahmanet is and what she wants, and it’s nice to see him get a satisfying moment in the spotlight.

Where the writers (5 of them! Yes, 5!) and director Alex Kurtzman fell-short was convincing us ‘The Mummy’ was a film that could work on its own. It doesn’t commit to its characters enough as no one beyond Cruise, Crowe, and Boutella even register as anyone of interest (I found Wallis to be particularly poor in all honesty). There is no real through-line from where the film begins to where the film ends; it’s more a collection of 5 or 6 initially unconnected action set-pieces (though mostly entertaining) woven together through thinly plotted dialogue scenes.

I couldn’t shake the feeling as the film ended that what I watched was, ultimately, pointless. The film itself will leave no lasting impression beyond setting up the Dark Universe, should this even carry on after the critical mauling ‘The Mummy’ has received. I found myself mostly entertained for the majority of its run-time, but I can assure you that the 2017 reboot of ‘The Mummy’ will not leave the same lasting impression the 1999 version of ‘The Mummy’ had. Wherefore art thou, Brendan Fraser?

Rhys’ rating: 4.7 out of 10

Universal’s Monster Universe Officially Named ‘Dark Universe’ With ‘Bride Of Frankenstein’ Following ‘The Mummy’

We knew Universal planned to kick start a new ‘Monster Universe’ with the upcoming ‘The Mummy’ reboot, well now it officially has a name, ‘Dark Universe’. 

This new name was announced via a tweet from a new Twitter account, which had the following video attached. In this video there are clips from some classic monster movies, including ‘Dracula’, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’, ‘The Wolfman’, and ‘The Mummy’. These films are more than likely what we can expect to be rebooted for this new ‘Dark Universe’

Supporting this theory is the new announcement that ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ will be the second film of this universe, and it currently has a Valentines Day 2019 release date. Bill Condon, whose most recent film was Disney’s live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast’, is set to direct. 

Javier Bardem has been cast as Frankenstein’s Monster and Johnny Depp will be the Invisible Man! More casting announcements likely to come following this news! 

Princess Ahmanet Wreaks Havoc In The New Trailer For The Mummy

Universal have released a brand new trailer for the upcoming reboot of ‘The Mummy’ and someone definitely woke up on the wrong side of, the er, tomb. This new trailer gives us a greater insight into who Princess Ahmanet was and why she’s now wreaking havoc.  It also appears she’s the reason why Tom Cruise’s character, Nick Morton, wakes up in a body bag after being found dead after a plane crash. 

Sofia Boutella is the Mummy at large, and joining her and Cruise in this film Universal hopes kick starts their ‘Monsters Universe’ are Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, and Russel Crowe, who is playing Dr. Henry Jekyll and is likely to be a key character to link the future films. 

The first trailer didn’t give too much away, and I wasn’t really sold on this reboot. However, now we know more about Ahmanet and her plan, and had a better look at the visuals in the film, I’m actually quite excited to see this reboot. Love him or hate him, Cruise always put 110% into his films and the stunts he performs and no doubt he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve for this film to surprise us. 


“Thought safely entombed in a tomb deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension. From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, The Mummy brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters.”

Written by Tom Sheffield

The Mummy Trailer

Welcome to a new world of Gods and Monsters…

The first trailer for Universal Pictures’ reboot of ‘The Mummy’ has been released overnight and London looks set to be the centre of an Egyptian Princess’ tantrum, in which she wreaks havoc and destruction in order to “claim what she has been denied”.

Tom Cruise takes centre stage as Nick Morton, who’s team finds the sarcophagus of Ahmenet, an ancient Egyptian princess played by Sofia Boutella. After an attempt to transport the dead Princess ends in their plane crash landing, Nick wakes up in a zipped up body bag in a morgue, much to his confusion.  We hear the voice of Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) saying “welcome to a new world of Gods and Monsters” and are shown short clips of Ahmenet teasing the extent of her power as she destroys central London. The 2 minute long trailer doesn’t offer much in the way of plot details, but we can probably expect the marketing for this film to really pick up in the first quarter of 2017, which will give us a greater insight into the plot and characters.

It’s no secret that Universal Pictures are trying to create a ‘Monsters Universe’ franchise, with the likes of ‘The Invisible Man’, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ and even a reboot of ‘Van Helsing’ on their scheduled list, amongst a couple of yet unnanounced films. It’s evident that Universal are choosing who they think are the best people to make this universe a success, they have Alex Kurtzman, who helped build the Transformers and Mission Impossible franchises, directing this first installment and he’s also set to be a producer of the future films in this universe. Sean Daniel has been signed on as a producer, who produced the 1999 ‘The Mummy’ trilogy which starred Brendan Fraser in the leading role. 

This universe has the potential to be huge and ‘The Mummy’ is where it all begins, so whilst this film may be a starting point, I really hope when watching it it doesn’t feel like one. 

Are there any monsters you’d like to see introduced into this new universe?

‘The Mummy’ roars into UK theatres 9th June 2017

Written by Tom Sheffield