There are frights aplenty on horror streaming platform Shudder. Here’s what to what to watch on Shudder this week, featuring The Mummy (1959), Battle Royale, and short Jack Attack…
What to Watch on Shudder: The Mummy (1959)
Ahead of next week’s release of action-horror remake The Mummy, check out the 1959 Hammer version. The film was released by the studio one year after Dracula, and features the classic Hammer pairing of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. This version’s plot varies slightly from the 1932 Universal film, but the crux remains the same. Terence Fisher’s film offers plenty of that Hammer charm, even if the ‘brown face’ makes the film feel dated. The title character itself is a pretty horrifying concoction. This is one thing that hasn’t aged.
What to Watch on Shudder: Battle Royale
Battle Royale is a Japanese horror classic. The 2000 film’s influence can be seen most prominently in the The Hunger Games series of films. Battle Royale is about forty-two school students sent to a deserted island, who are forced to compete until only one survives. If this dystopian premise is not horrifying enough, director Kinji Fukasaka does not skimp on the gore. The film is visceral, yet not without a satirical dark humour. Controversial at the time of its release, Battle Royale certainly packs a punch.
What to Watch on Shudder: Jack Attack
2013 short Jack Attack is worth nine minutes of your time. Written and directed by Bryan Norton and Antonio Padovan, the film has won a number of awards at genre film festivals. Jack Attack is about a young boy and his babysitter who decide to carve a pumpkin on Halloween. To say anymore would give the game away. Suffice to say, the film has a freaky outcome with some decent special effects.
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Gary Ross’ adaptation of the bestselling novel is a well-executed production. The Hunger Games is a extremely watchable film, although there are a few flaws.
In the futuristic world of Panem, the 12 districts are each forced to send two young competitors to take part in the Hunger Games. A brutal annual tournament where 24 young people must fight to the death on live television, there can only be one winner. When her younger sister Prim is selected to represent District 12, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to go in her place…
The Hunger Games is an enjoyable film. It hits the right notes in terms of drama and apprehension. Moments of tension are tremendously well executed. In particular, the lottery scene and the countdown scene are fantastic. The lack of music, and in part sound, is incredibly effective in heightening tension in this scenes.
There are some very obvious parallels between The Hunger Games, based on Suzanne Collins’ book, with Battle Royale. The Ross’ film differentiates itself by providing its own dystopian back story. The futuristic setting works well; any allegory is simple and does not distract from the microcosm of Catniss’ involvement in the tournament.
Costumes and art direction create quite the contrast between the Capitol and the world of the districts. Some of the effects used appear synthetic, however. Due to cuts made to guarantee a 12A certificate, some of the action sequences seem haphazardly edited. These scenes would most likely have been more satisfying in their original state. Furthermore, the cuts seem ironic, given that the film is preoccupied by themes of violence.
Jennifer Lawrence delivers a commanding performance as protagonist Catniss. Lawrence is really proving why she is one of Hollywood’s brightest young actresses. Elsewhere, Josh Hutcherson is believable as Peeta, while Stanley Tucci is suitably larger than life as Caesar Flickerman.
The Hunger Games is implausible at times, with some suspect plotting and explanations. Nevertheless, the film entertains throughout its 142-minute duration.