A quick word about Prey (2022)

Amber Midthunder in Prey (2022)

I’ve just watched Prey, which is now available for streaming on Disney+ in the UK, Hulu in the USA and presumably other services around the world, so I just wanted to write a few spoiler-free words about how unexpectedly delightful it is.

It’s the latest iteration of the SF/horror/action Predator franchise (which we’ve obliquely discussed on the podcast a few times recently while talking about various Alien films). The series began superbly with the so-titled Arnold Schwarzenegger muscle-and-guts-fest in 1987 and culminated in the widely-derided, slightly differently-titled The Predator in 2018 (which I have to admit I haven’t bothered to watch). Early word on Prey suggested a decent premise – a stripped-down prequel in which the alien hunter common to all films in the franchise would menace an 18th century Comanche tribe – but the trailers, looking a bit too cheap, a bit too glossy, and featuring Comanche characters speaking ahistorical accented English were somewhat underwhelming to me. However, against expectations, it’s marvellously well-judged and ironically enough would make for a thoroughly satisfying big-screen blockbuster. It has enough sense of place and character to take the audience on a journey but a light enough touch to create an accessible crowd-pleaser, benefiting from an inventive, pared-down screenplay.

Amber Midthunder plays Naru, a young Comanche woman who is determined to be initiated as a hunter according to the customs of her people, even though as a female this is not a role she is expected to undertake. (When asked by her mother why she would want to hunt rather than explore her other traditionally feminine skills – such as cooking and healing – Naru responds, “Because you all think I can’t.”) When she becomes aware that an unusual, ahem, predator is bedevilling local wildlife, Naru determines to hunt it down. Of course, she gets more than she bargained for.

This very simple premise pays three kinds of dividend. Firstly, as the story focuses on just one character with an easy-to-grasp goal, one quickly comes to engage with and care about that character. (Amber Midthunder’s hugely expressive face helps a lot in this regard.) Second, the very visual storytelling is so strongly-themed – everything is about hunting, basically – that dialogue can be kept to a minimum. (What dialogue there is, is mainly in English peppered with just enough Comanche to remind the audience that this not an American colonial culture: a rather old-fashioned approach, but one that works. Again it makes the film feel like an old-school blockbuster – a film made for cinema release in mostly English-speaking territories would probably have done this, but when designed with streaming in mind, and the resultant ease of access to subtitles and dubs in multiple languages, it’s perhaps surprising that the film wasn’t simply shot in Comanche. According to Wikipedia, an all-Comanche dub of the film does exist, but it doesn’t seem to be available on Disney+.) Finally, the ‘hunter becomes the hunted’ theme common to the Predator franchise is turned excitingly on its head. Arguably, Naru is not the ‘Prey’ of the title; she’s the predator. Albeit a likeable and relatable one.

This is the first Predator sequel (at least, I think it is, having not seen the 2018 film) to both stand comparison with the original and stand alone. 1990’s Predator 2 set a template for various novel and comic book sequels that essentially repeated the premise of the original film (alien predator picks off a bunch of macho warriors one-by-one, only in a different setting for each film) and subsequent films attempted to elaborate on the formula without bettering it. With Prey, for the first time, although the basic premise is almost the same, not only the setting but the culture of the human characters is different enough from that of the previous films that the manner of their reaction to the Predator is unpredictable. As a result, suspense returns to the storytelling, even if you’re already familiar with the Predator franchise. On the other hand, if it’s your first Predator film, the story still works: Prey rediscovers the Predator creature and its MO, as if for the first time, through Naru’s eyes.

Not much else to say, really. Production values are good, with action sequences that are kinetically edited yet coherently shot (several appear to be done in one take, John Wick-style, with Midthunder doing a lot of her own stunt work – or it’s very well-faked) and a particularly effective musical backing from Sarah Schachner.

Basically, watch it.

TD Velasquez

Horror in Red Dwarf

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-94f5i-1286fae

A relaxed, horror-adjacent chat this week, as Stella and Dan put their feet up and chuckle about the horrific elements of their (and possibly everybody’s) favourite sci-fi sitcom, Red Dwarf.

(The Series 2 episode they discuss without naming is called Thanks for the Memory.)

 

Red Dwarf Series 1-8 are available for streaming via Britbox.  Series 9 onwards are frequently (but not always) available for streaming for free via UKTV Play.

 

All soundtrack and music clips are used for the purposes of criticism under Fair Use (US law) and Fair Dealing (UK law).  No copyright infringement intended.

Check out our website, www.andnowpodcast.com

Revisitations #7: Alien Resurrection (1997)

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-dj5e9-127e0c2

Following their discussions of Aliens (1986) in the previous two episodes, and Alien3 (1992) much earlier, Dan and Ian now take on 1997’s not-much-loved fourth part of the franchise, Alien Resurrection, although the two can’t agree whose idea it was.  Listen as Ian rediscovers a nightmare from literally half a lifetime ago.  The discussion doesn’t dwell on the story in detail, but if you haven’t seen it, beware of spoilers.

 

There’s also a very off-topic digression about Game of Thrones and The West Wing, but Dan cut most of it out…

 

Alien Resurrection is available for streaming on Disney+.

 

All soundtrack and music clips are used for the purposes of criticism under Fair Use (US law) and Fair Dealing (UK law).  No copyright infringement intended.

Check out our other episodes on Aliens and Alien3 on our website, www.andnowpodcast.com.

Questions of Horror #4: Is It Horror?

Apart from Howard (he says hello), the gang’s all here as Stella, Kirsty and Ian join Dan to discuss how far the horror genre might stretch to include action, disaster and sci-fi films, with specific reference to The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Jaws (1975) and Aliens (1986).  Beware: spoilers for The Poseidon Adventure – please note the timecodes below if you wish to avoid.

00.00.00 Intro and news

00.09.10  The Poseidon Adventure discussion

00.31.08 Jaws discussion

00.43.53 Aliens discussion

Relevant Links:

The new edition of Hammer and Beyond can be ordered for £10 from Manchester University Press

Also, happy birthday to our music maestro, Greg Hulme!

DASHCAM: Interview with Gemma Hurley & Jed Shepherd

Ian, Stella and Kirsty do their best without Dan’s guidance (he’s away on holiday, the slacker) and dig into Dashcam, Rob Savage’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to Host, with a spoiler-free and spoiler-full discussions, plus an interview with Dashcam screenwriter Gemma Hurley and its producer Jed Shepherd.

PODCAST TIMELINE
1’52 Trailer followed by spoiler-free discussion
22’00 Interview with Gemma & Jed
45’03 – TO END Spoilerific discussion – DO NOT LISTEN UNTIL YOU’VE WATCHED THE FILM.

To hear our previous interview with Gemma for ‘Host’ click here

To hear our previous interview with Rob Savage for ‘Host’ (with spoilers) click here

All soundtrack and music clips are used for the purposes of criticism under Fair Use (US law) and Fair Dealing (UK law).  No copyright infringement intended

Film Stories’ Podcast of the Week!

We were honoured to be selected by the esteemed Em McGowan of Film Stories magazine and the Verbal Diorama podcast (if you don’t read or listen to either, you should, they’re fantastic) to be the Film Stories website’s featured British Movie Podcast of the Week last week. We’re incredibly grateful to Em for the glowing write-up which you can read here. (And if you haven’t tried Film Stories yet, there’s currently a great subscription offer open – 3 issues for £1!)

Revisitations #5: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) with Catherine Bray

It’s time to talk Tolkien, and specifically the more horrific elements of the Middle Earth canon.  Peter Jackson’s 2001 film instalment The Fellowship of the Ring (featuring the ever-forbidding Christopher Lee, of course) has long given Ian, Stella and Dan the collywobbles, but Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated version is also memorably nightmarish.  Joining them to enthuse about these films is the brilliant film journalist, podcaster and producer Catherine Bray, co-host of the highly recommended new podcast Not Another F*cking Elf: A Lord of the Rings Character Guide.

00.00.41 Intro and news

00.06.04 The Lord of the Rings discussion

Relevant links

Not Another F*ucking Elf (@notanotherelf on Twitter) is available on Apple Podcasts and YouTube and so far includes episodes about Gollum, Boromir, Legolas, Bilbo Baggins and Tom Bombadil, with five more episodes due to follow this season

John Ezard’s 2001 Guardian article on Tolkien can be read here

Tickets for the 27th May cinema screening of Horror Express (1972) in Manchester can be booked here and the film is also currently streaming on BBC iPlayer.

Feasting on Hannibal #2: Season Two (2014) with Dr Lori Hitchcock Morimoto & Dr Rebecca Williams

AKA: ‘Another Hannibal Love-In’…

We return to the world of Hannibal, Bryan Fuller’s majestic TV remix of the works of Thomas Harris.  As with our Season One discussion last year, Kirsty and Dan are joined by very special guests Dr Lori Hitchcock Morimoto of the University of Virginia and Dr Rebecca Williams of the University of South Wales for an in depth aca-Fannibal chat, and then by Stella (our very own Dr) and Ian for their take on the show.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS for the first and second seasons of Hannibal.  If you’ve never seen the show, DON’T LISTEN TO THIS.  Go and find our Season One episode (which is spoiler-free) and if you like the sound of it watch the show up to Season Two, then listen to this.

In the UK, Hannibal is free to stream via My5 (Season One only) or to Amazon Prime subscribers (all seasons).

00.00.41 Intro with Dan

00.05.25 Dr Rebecca Williams & Dr Lori Hitchcock Morimoto with Kirsty & Dan

01.14.10 Stella & Ian with Kirsty & Dan

All soundtrack and music clips are used for the puposes of criticism under Fair Use (US law) and Fair Dealing (UK law).  No copyright infringement intended.

Patreon Extract: 100 Years of Nigel Kneale

Nigel Kneale in 1955, on the set of the BBC’s Quatermass II.

The date this episode drops, 28th April 2022, would’ve been the 100th birthday of Nigel Kneale, the great pioneer of SF/horror TV and film, who died in 2006.  Here, in an extract from our forthcoming episode on Kneale’s film version of Quatermass and the Pit (1967), renowned horror author Simon Clark tells Dan the story of how he found the script books of Kneale’s 1950s Quatermass serials in a second-hand bookshop and why they are so important to him.

To hear the full version of this interview, in which Simon discusses in detail not just the three script books but also Kneale’s other literary works, sign up to our Patreon page.

To tide you over until our full Quatermass episode is released, check out our earlier Kneale-themed content: our Missed Classic on Beasts: During Barty’s Party (1976) and our Halloween Retrospective on Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), and Dan’s written appreciation of The Woman in Black (1989).

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