Despite being cuddly Forest Whitaker, it doesn't take long for head guard Barris (Whitaker) to get his Idi Amin on. Chief annoyance is hippy prisoner Travis (Brody) who refuses to eat his dinner and stands up for the weaker prisoners. As this power struggle ensues, the other prisoners and guards stand around looking bemused. It's really a case of two men spoiling things for everyone else. Although Cam Gigandet does try to rape someone.
I don't remember enough about the original movie to try to compare the two pieces, although I seem to recall being more disturbed by Das Experiment. As with all translations from world-to-Hollywood cinema, a certain something is lost in seeing well-known faces go through the same motions. There's not a bad performance to be found in The Experiment, although the characterisation is a little too black and white for my tastes. Too quickly, Whitaker switches to all-out nutter and never really looks back. There's room for introspection and moral dilemmas, but Barris rarely seems bothered by his own actions.
Still, The Experiment is a thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced and gripping prison thriller. I think a part of me has always wanted to see Forest Whitaker go potty on Adrien Brody's head.
Like most entries in the franchise, Afterlife has its share of problems. Some of the CGI is crappy (particularly the zombie dogs), the story is nonsensical and it's a very immature piece, clearly designed to appeal to teenage boys and fellow sufferers of Jovovich Blindness (an actual medical issue which causes the inflicted to sit through trash like this and Ultraviolet). But it's easy to watch, enjoyably rubbish and chock full of violence and photogenic people. On that note, yes. This review was but an article to post that picture. Sorry about that. Here, have a picture of Wentworth Miller to make up for it:
Voyager had the more interesting premise. The Starship Voyager is sucked into a wormhole or something and dumped light years out in space, deep in unexplored territories. Scary, right? Not really, it's like every other Star Trek, only with even more bad acting and a crew that bicker all the time. Enterprise, we don't really talk about, because it's the worst thing to have Trek in the title since Star Trek vs The X-Men. It's a prequel set on the first Enterprise, and features yet more bad acting and bickering.
Jeffrey Combs makes a few cameos through these series (most notably, Enterprise and Deep Space Nine), playing different characters. This bodes well, because Jeffrey Combs is Re-Animator, right? He's a scary chap. Well, no, because they choose to make him look like this:
But is there any scary amongst the Trek? Very occasionally. DS9 is too concerned with politics to even try, but it has its moments. Empok Nor does a visit to a sort-of haunted space station, whereupon the crew's pet Cardassian loses control of his faculties and tries to kill everyone. Well, he is played by Andrew J. Robinson, from off've Hellraiser (true story, trivia fans: Hellraiser 3's Terry Farrell plays a main character too). The Cardassians are sucky villains, but their history takes in lots of cruel experiments and several moments of grotesquerie that make DS9 vaguely worthwhile. For the most part though, it's a dull, self-important series in which everyone is boring and everyone talks about politics.
Voyager is known to many as the worst of the Trek series. I always had a soft spot for it myself. Darkling is my favourite episode. The ship's holographic doctor has himself a funny turn and tries to kill just a few of his crewmates. It's a fun little play on Jekyll & Hyde, and one of Voyager's more interesting episodes. There's also The Haunting Of Deck Twelve, in which sillly cook Neelix (him off've True Blood) tells ghost stories to the Borg children. Yes, they have Borg children. No, I'm not sure where they came from.
There might be scary episodes of Enterprise, but I never watched it much beyond the first series, due to it being hidden on television channels I don't have. The soft-rock bullshit theme tune is pretty scary though. Whatever happened to "these are the voyages...?" There's an episode with zombie Cardassians, and The Borg make a return (or a first entrance, even) but nothing to write home about. Unless you like writing home about how terrible things are.
In summary, and back to the original question, why is Star Trek scary? At its best, Star Trek plays on that fear of being far away from home, under attack from forces unknown. There are dangerous alien planets, salt-sucking shape shifters and William Shatner trying to rape things. Star Trek is scary both ironically and unironically. It may not have aged too well, but who can forget Deanna Troi being turned into a cake? Or Jeffrey Combs with blue penises stuck to his head? Star Trek probably isn't scary, not really, but I do so enjoy writing about it. Sorry about that.
NOT THE LEAST BECAUSE IT FEATURES AN ANDROID WHO WRITES POETRY ABOUT HIS CAT.
I like bearded Riker because it hides some of the Smug
Other episodes of note are Schisms (crewmembers are abducted and experimented on) Conspiracy (an Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers thing) and my personal favourite, Realm Of Fear, which is a Lt. Barclay-heavy episode. Barclay is The A-Team's Murdock, and is therefore awesome. Realm Of Fear deals with Barclay's transporter phobia, and has weird transporter-worms and such. It feels like it should have a cameo from Freddy Krueger.
And not even an erotic cake
Can Westlake rescue his love life and get revenge on the thugs what wronged him? And will there be a cameo from Bruce Campbell? All these questions and more are answered in Darkman. The movie is Sam Raimi on a form he wouldn't recover until Drag Me To Hell. There's black humour, ultraviolence and his brother Ted. Liam Neeson is brilliant as the conflicted hero, the underrated Frances McDormand makes for a sympathetic girlfriend and Larry Drake is reliably slimy as villain Durant. The action is extremely well done and the special effects do a wonderful job with Darkman and his shonky face.
Because it's St. Patrick's Day next week, I'm half Irish, and also why not, now commences a week of Irish themed updates. Top of the morning to ye, and other utterances.
Director: David Zucker (2003)
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Anna Faris, Leslie Neilsen, Pamela Anderson
Find it: IMDB, Amazon
Director: Mike Marvin (1986)