Trailer Teaser for Night of the Cooters delivers stylish weird west intrigue

During the 1800’s, strange otherworldly visitors menaced the small town of Pachuco, Texas. The people of that town banded together, to survive and fight back. This is the story of the Night of the Cooters.

That tale set for 2022 as an indie film, based on a classic short story by science fiction author Howard Waldrop. The screenplay is by Joe Lansdale, and produced by George R.R. Martin, best known as author of the Game of the Thrones book series. Vincent d’Onofrio, well-known for his Kingpin portrayal in Netflix’s Daredevil series, directs and stars in this sci-fi western.

Here’s is a teaser tailer…

George R.R. Martin presented the above trailer for online viewing on his official website, with more details on the filming still in progress, with a projection to complete by “February, Maybe March.”

For the photo realistic hybrid style, George R.R. Martin worked with Trioscope Studios. Its graphic novel appeal mixes for a different animated result, giving Night of the Cooters a viewing experience unlike other weird sci-fi westerns to date. Trioscope is based in the U.S., but now globally reaching out with multiple projects. Their European branch premiered on Netflix in 2020 with “The Liberator“, a four issue TV serial and World War II drama, done in their signature style.

Night of the Cooters looks fun, with an indie feel for those appreciate something different and fresh for any fresh sci-fi or weird west cravings in 2022. George R.R. Martin and Vincent d’Onofrio are also an interesting collaboration, both well respected in fandom communities, and have returned that back in their work and side projects including this.

No solid release date or venue for Night of the Cooters is yet set for this time. Yet, worth keeping an eye open, especially for any small town Texas folks from the 1800s.

SW Movie Recommends: PROSPECT, a recent indie sci-fi film gem

PROSPECT

Directors and Writers: Christopher Caldwell, Zeek Earl
Producers: Depth of Field, Ground Control, BRON Studios, Shep Films
Theatrical Release: November 2nd, 2018
Star actors: Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass, Pedro Pascal
Time: 98 min Rated: R
Official site: http://www.prospectthefilm.com

Synopsis:

A teenage girl and her father travel to a remote alien moon, aiming to strike it rich. They’ve secured a contract to harvest a large deposit of the elusive gems hidden in the depths of the moon’s toxic forest. But there are others roving the wilderness and the job quickly devolves into a fight to survive. Forced to contend not only with the forest’s other ruthless inhabitants, but with her own father’s greed-addled judgment, the girl finds she must carve her own path to escape.

Personal Findings:

(No big spoilers, promise)

I recently saw Prospect at my local movie theatre through a very limited release. I dived in knowing nothing about it, other good feedback and some guy from Game of Thrones is in it. I was craving fresh science fiction not based on any franchise, game, book, or whatever.  I saw the poster, a little bit of the trailer, admired the environment suits, and that’s it (after convincing a dear friend of mine to come along).

After watching, this entire work felt very different for reasons I couldn’t initially put my finger on. It can’t be the story, for it’s not very original with a mix of elements of Enemy Mine, True Grit, The Road…all movies I like. But, there are new world-building elements that feel fresh or at least underutilized in other modern science fiction movies. A main new take is on a gold-rush style mining business for weird sponge things on other planets. The details are not spoon-fed for exposition, so the viewer needs to work out the groundwork along the way, which can be natural yet leaves room for a little mystery. Such is not a requirement to enjoy the film, because the center-story is what really matters.

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That narrows down to the relationship a young teenage girl in relation to her father and his business partner, which leads to some deadly high-tension developments. I don’t want to spoil what happens. After all, this is a recommendation.  But the focus is on a survival predicament leading a dangerous quest, and more danger till the very end. Some of it might feel predictable, but the drama throughout is well-played, with heavy tension and development throughout.

The big surprise is how excellent the production, editing, and presentation feels. The technology and elements of the sci-fi feel old school reminiscent of the late 70s, early 80s; with much care to the handmade designs of the props, costumes, and equipment. There’s no holograms, touchscreens, CGI, or other modern gimmicks placed in. All are mostly homegrown practical design and effects. The detail on such is awesome, with much care and thought put forth by the director and production staff.

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Also, the cinematography is well-done. Lots of shots and transitions taking care in the framing and positioning of people, actions, settings. Some practical effects are simple, working well to establish toxic landscapes, atmosphere spacecraft transitions, moments of weapon dueling that fits well for this gritty sci-fi tale. The setting (Olympia National Forest in the US state of Washington) is also well-utilized, feeling lush and almost otherworldly; untouched and quiet as barely habitable alien planets should be.

The sound is kept subtle but raised only at the most necessary tense moment. The breathing, stepping, creaking, all add to its tension.

2018-12-11

Overall, Prospect is a great movie that is both acclaimed yet underappreciated for 2018. If you have a chance to see it in theaters, go for it. If not, it will eventually be available for home release and in-demand/steaming sometime in 2019. Then see it!

Short Film Find: Volume 1: ZYGOTE, a sci-fi horror directed by Neill Blomkamp

Zygote: Volume 1

  • Director: Neill Blomkamp
  • Published: Sunday, July 12, 2017 on youtube.com
  • Source: oatsstudios.com
  • Time: 22:23
  • Note: “Volume 1” with Zygote includes other short films available to watch online, directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Chappie). Support for volume 2 calls for fan support, of which can be helped through the purchases of its DLC digital assets (video files, D assets, script, concept art). Visit oatstudios.com for more info.

Synopsis:

Oats Studios and filmmaker Neill Blomkamp are pleased to announce the latest short film in the Oats Studios Volume I anthology, ‘Zygote’. Starring Dakota Fanning, a few people find themselves fleeing a creature made of human body parts.

Personal Thoughts: 

A good creepy short, with nothing too complex in social commentary, or too dumbed down for an average schlock horror. The set-up is unexciting, as mining colony’s in science fiction usually mean nothing good for anyone. Still, there is hope between the main characters, in a set-up that gives a little back story of the horror unleashed. The creature itself is scary, though at times feels a combination of John Carpenter’s The Thing, a monster from a sci-fi anime, and a bad dream. Such works well, for being in a low-budget short film. What works better, is the frantic danger that seems ever-present from the beginning, carried on by the pounding score and blinking, flickering lights. The interaction between the two main characters presents the futile hope that both can perhaps make it, but predictable only one in the end. I chuckled, where Dakota Fanning’s character tries out different fingers of the monster.

Otherwise, a good short of which I think is great for an anthology set. The rest I have not seen. Enjoying this quality, and being a big fan of Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, I will check out the rest and likely support his Volume 2 anthology.

Short Film Find: BIOPUNK, a concept short set in dystopian London

BIOPUNK

 

  • Director and story: Liam Garvo, Screenplay: Andrew Harmer
    Producer: James Heath
  • Published: Sunday, June 5, 2017 on vimeo.com
  • Source: dresdenpictures.com
  • Time: 6:19
  • Note: Biopunk began as a Kickstarter project, funded successfully. Details here.

Synopsis:

Set in a dystopian London in 2054, the world has been ravaged by a virus that has killed billions and caused part of the remaining population to mutate into something other than human. BIOPUNK is a proof of concept short for a feature film. Starring Katie Sheridan as Resha, Charlie Jones as Edwin, Benjamin Tuttlebee as Kio, Robert Nairne as the Preacher and Kristian Nairn as Bob.

Personal Thoughts: 

Damn it, that video was too short. I enjoyed the visual cinematics and editing, and especially the story. I want more of this story and more of this kind post-apocalyptic telling of small-scale living and social commentary. While there is a hint of horror and action, I felt more engaged with the good and bad habits of humanity remaining constant, and the survivalist elements intact. I hope there will be a BIOPUNK full-length feature film for at least as a short-release indie title, with much of the cast here involved.

Short Star Wars Fan Film: Rebel Scum

Rebel Scum

  • Director, Writer: Timothy Van Nguyen
  • Production Company; Blood Brother Cinema
  • Publish Date: January 9, 2016 – Time: 9.07
  • Notes: For more info, visit bloodbrothercinema.com

Synopsis :

“A Rebellion pilot is hounded by death from the merciless Empire and a frozen grave, after being abandoned during the retreat of the Rebel Alliance from Hoth. Rebel Scum pays homage to the original Star Wars trilogy; nearly all visual effects were created without the use of CGI, using time honored methods such a stop-motion animation. Shot on location in -30°C (-22°F) at Columbia Icefield in Alberta Canada.”

Personal Thoughts:

This is fantastic work, especially with the cinematography.

The stop motion on the Imperial Probe Droid is a great throwback to the early Empire Strikes Back special effects use. Its mechanical movements, ominous floating, and the sound effects are well-played. The AT-ATs were also well done in detail and motion, but not as awesome creepy as the Probe Droid.

The story itself is a cool little tale, well done for one using no words. A favorite thing about the latest Star Wars movie (The Force Awakens), was the little insight of a soldier’s POV in the intergalactic conflicts. After the Clone Wars, they must have personal struggles as well, and must ponder just how high in duty they take their cause to live and fight.

In Rebel Scum, we a nice example of a Rebel fighter. He is also a family man, with extra motivation to survive in the Hoth wilderness. The Imperial soldier is a perfect contrast, clean-cut and cold as the icy planet itself. Her darkened eyes and deathly skin gives off a hateful vibe, perhaps thinking the Rebel fighters as ungrateful troublemakers. To suddenly miss and be shot by one, is a humiliation to her.

The conclusion leaves much open. Will the Rebel soldier as an Imperial sabotage from within, steal some secrets, and return to his family? Can the Imperial soldier now trapped in the Rebel fatigues survive the Probe Droid and “join” the Rebellion? While the answers are best left to the viewer, I would much welcome an extension to the story by the filmmakers here.

Overall, Rebel Scum is a now a personal favorite among the Star Wars fan films out there. I am also turned to other works by Blood Brother Cinema, which now have my interest on bloodbrothercinema.com.

 

– Orion T

Short Animated Science Fiction Film – NO-A

NO-A

  • Director: Liam Murphy
  • Time: 5:32
  • Notes: For more info, visit noafilm.org.

Synopsis :

“Award winning graduation film NO-A completed at the Savannah College of Art and Design by a core team of 8 students.

The world is a desolate, unforgiving place in this action sci-fi with a surprising amount of heart. We follow NO-A (Noah), as he attempts to rescue Aixa, the young woman that created him. In his desperate attempt to save her, he must face an unknown enemy force and fight to keep them both alive. NO-A is the passion project of several visual effects artists from around the world.”

Personal Thoughts:

A fantastic short of science fiction, worth the thousands of minutes of work put into just over five.

The story is brilliant in its pacing and presentation, as it leaves a little guesswork by the viewer on the robot’s initial motivations. We get pieces of a larger story, to which we can easily speculate. The intrigue leads to the robot in rescuing its creator, captured and put into some deep sleep for unknown reasons.

What we do know is that this machine is full of heart and love for his master, and little for the soldiers against him. The robot’s characteristics and motions are poetic almost, with determination to the end. The action sequences are exciting but not overdone, as emotional aspects throughout are good and balances. We also see beautiful cinematography, with moments to take in the details and depth of the surroundings.

The content brings me to a favorite trope of science fiction, artificial life. We have much artificial sentience in our robot fiction, yet still not enough exploring the idea. I find often in robot stories, that robots are either good or bad. The idea can be dangerous now, as warned by Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Gates. Yet, with stories like Wall-E, Short Circuit, Chappie, Terminator 2, A.I; we have robots who choose upon a greater good for peace and friendship. However in storytelling, such choices are up to the creators who present them. Results can result in thought-provoking discussion on what it means to be really human, or at least achieve such.

The art and filmmaking of NO-A is superb with sharp attention to details, environments, and motion. The robot’s design is beautiful, as we see the moving parts and working lights of NO-A, with sensible movement and a feeling of weight in every step. Everything to him and around seems practically and necessary in design for a believable story. The musical score and sound effects are a great fit, further enthralling the viewer.

Do I want more from the short time? No, as I think the story is great in its simplicity. The rest of the world is probably uninteresting and boring. However, I would like to see more animated work from director Liam Murphy and his staff. It’s their kind of heartfelt storytelling brought to the top-notch visual effects and sequences, that I would like to see more in modern cinema science fiction.

– Orion T