Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Dark Corners (2011-Current)

There are many film reviewers online, and some have come and gone, while others I've lost interest in, or just fell by the wayside. One I still regularly watch however is the incomparable Dark Corners! Written, directed, edited, and hosted by the duo of Robin Bailes and Graham Trelfer, it began in 2011 as a series of longer videos, starting out strongly enough, though having some of the teething troubles new shows can, but there's still much to enjoy, and Bailes is a fun host, and all the movie choices are great too. Where it hit its stride was in its second season, where some retools aided the show greatly, and things really began to bloom.

There are a lot of positives to discuss about the show. First and foremost is the length. at only 3 minutes long the episodes are stunningly short! This has the potential to go either way. I have increasingly little patience to sit through a half-hour review, so a nice little nugget like this is perfect! The worry however is that you're not gonna have enough time in only 3 minutes to fully explore the target. Thankfully despite this length the team manage to cover all the bases, commendably so! As time has gone by and the channel has progressed, the runtimes have gotten steadily longer (now commonly around 6 minutes), but it's still miles shorter than others, never feeling like they're going on longer than they need to. Brevity is something the internet certainly needs more of, and this show excels at it!

The movies that are showcased on Dark Corners run the gamut, from most traditionally B-movies (with all the sexism, rubber monsters, and bad acting you expect), 80s horror, slasher films, as well as various cult movies in general from various genres. While the genres covereed may change, there's always a nice level of consistency on display.

The humour here is great! There's always a funny joke no matter the episode, and many are downright hilarious! Favourite episodes include Monster from Green Hell, Two Lost Worlds, The Horror of Loch Ness, Timewalker, and many more.

Besides regular episodes, there are also occasional specials, often covering something from cinema history (usually horror, but not exclusively). Some notable examples are the Hammer and Universal retrospectives, which go into great detail about not only the films themselves, and all the good and bad, but also the lives and careers of the people behind the scenes. Other great showcases are one on Lon Chaney, and a recent mini-documentary on the great Ray Harryhausen, covering his origins, films, effects, and influence on cinema today.

Besides Dark Corners, the two creators have also gone into other ventures, from helping direct/crew other people's projects (such as the fun comedy Old), to their own ventures, such as Bailes' Universal Library series. A response to the incredibly lacklustre remake of The Mummy, this series starts out not only telling the kind of story we'd actually wanna see from a mummy adventure, but actually goes one step further. It's one thing to just write a good book about the Mummy after a really shitty one has left a sour taste in your mouth, but is another entirely to intentionally utilise many of the bad aspects of that film and try and do them well! The Mummy's Quest may take place in the modern day, but it still has a great feel to it, has plenty of scares, and a great sense of humour, balancing the two tones very well.

Following that was The Werewolf of Priory Grange, which I didn't like as much, mainly due to the tone and pacing. All good in it of itself, but a gloomy book all taking place in the one location can wear on some people, especially when following a more lighthearted romp around the world. Still plenty to enjoy, and while I thought some things should've happened differently, or had more levity, there are lots of positives, including a definite commitment to a melancholy and eerie tone, as well as thrilling werewolf action.

The third book, Vengeance of the Invisible Man, is a better read, returning to a familiar protagonist, and to a more sprawling structure and fun tone. There's lots of laughs, creepy moments, and a fine story with lots of twists and turns, leading to more of a high stakes/action-packed conclusion than what you'd expect from an invisible man story, but definitely fitting the book. Overall the worldbuilding and characters in this series are very good,  My only criticism (though that word's probably a little strong) would be that it's kinda happening a little too slowly, which is understandable when you're switching perspectives and trying to keep things as standalone as possible, though it can be a bit difficult furthering characters and organisations when they might disappear every other book..

Overall, there's a lot to love about Dark Corners, and every reason to check them out if you're interested! I guarantee they'll deliver hours of entertainment...

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