Best of 2015

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What a year 2015 has turned out to be!

From Star Wars to Furious 7 to Avengers: Age of Ultron to Mad Max: Fury Road, it has been one tremendously fun year for movie-goers and just like every year, there were plenty of fantastic creature features. We were lucky enough to see the return of not only the greatest creature feature franchise of all (something about dinosaurs?) but also Syfy’s Sharknado Week, which is a fantastic opportunity to highlight some of the more obscure and low-budget offerings.

Rather than do an outright Film of the Year award or any kind of formal ranking, I have handpicked 6 of my favourite creature features that were released (in the UK) this year to highlight as noteworthy additions to the sub-genre. Now a lot of them, I have already reviewed and you’ll find links to those reviews in the article as well as links to the Creature Catalogue!

Let’s start off with the most seasonally appropriate film…

KRAMPUS

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Kevin O’Neill interview

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Creature Feature Interviews

Kevin O’Neill
(Sharktopus vs Whalewolf, Sharktopus vs Pteracuda, Dinocroc, Dinoshark & Dracano)

ONEILL_01Over the years, I have profiled writers, directors, actors, producers and composers but today, I’m adding a new profession to that list.

I spoke with Kevin O’Neill, one of the best VFX Supervisor in the industry, about his career and the big transition that he went through in becoming a top tier creature feature director for Roger Corman. With directing credits include Dinocroc and the two Sharktopus sequels and VFX credits include Piranha 3D and Crocodile, Kevin has amassed a wealth of experience which he generously took time from his busy schedule to talk to me about.

Read on to discover the day-to-day business of a VFX Supervisor, what it’s really like to work for Roger Corman, what really happened to Sharktopus vs Mermantula and an exclusive scoop on his next project, Intergalactic Shark Attack…

[JS] How did you get started in Visual Effects/ the film industry?

[KO] Well, I grew up on the East End of Long Island during the 60’s/70’s, when the local TV stations and Cinema would run everything from King Kong (1933) to Godzilla to of course, Ray Harryhausen films. I developed and early fascination with Ray H. and Willis O’Brien’s work, and soon found myself immersed in all things related to the process and equipment necessary to produce short experimental films. I was lucky to have taken up this interest at the same time a small but very informative collection of books and magazines dedicated to the technical and art of visual effects films, both professional and amateur were starting to publish on a regular basis.

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Extinction review

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extinctionjurassicpredators

Whilst on an expedition in the jungles of Peru, a team of cryptozoologists, researchers and journalists discover a pair of dinosaurs that not only survived the mass extinction but have evolved and adapted ever since. This will be the discovery of a life, if they can escape the jungle alive…

Extinction: Jurassic Predators is a very physical film.

Like a lot of its Found Footage brethren, Extinction is comprised of about 80% travelling shots but this includes our cast trekking, hiking, climbing, clambering, running and wading through the hills, forests and rivers of Wales, which is doubling for Peru.

Considering the degree of physicality required, I thought that the cast did a good job. The accents never shake, Sarah Mac has a fantastic TV journalist voice, most of the jokes land successfully and although they’re not fantastically deep characters, the actors stay consistent and true to their character’s key personality traits (Michelle is very serious, James is not serious, Lisa is quiet, Tim is neurotic etc).

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Jurassic World review

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jurassicworld

After 22 years, the successful Jurassic World is constructed on the ruins of the failed Jurassic Park. However when the brand new attraction – a super-smart dinosaur hybrid – escapes, it becomes a race against time to stop the Indominus Rex before a park full of visitors become a park full of lunch…

Jurassic World is the long awaited sequel to the Jurassic Park trilogy and whilst maintaining the high qualities of effects and excellent production design, somewhat successfully replaces a lot of other key factors with action and humour.

More so than other films, Jurassic World seems to work on an exchange system. Yes, there is a surprising lack of tension, any shocks are clearly forecasted, there is an over-reliance of references to the original film and the characters are largely one-dimensional archetypes BUT the music and visuals are breath-taking and uplifting, the new Indominus Rex is so awesomely cool, there’s a giant Mosasaurus that eats Great White Sharks in a Sea World parallel and there is Chris Pratt riding his motorbike with a hunting pack of trained Velociraptors!

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Best of 2013

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2013 has been an interesting year for films.

Creatures Features became a social media phenomenon thanks to The Asylum’s Sharknado which became a major talking point following it’s SyFy Channel première. Sharks were very popular this year as we also saw the release of Avalanche Sharks, Ghost Shark and Sharkzilla whilst Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark was pushed back to 2014. Announcements for 2014 included Sharknado getting a sequel entitled The Second One, Sharktopus getting two vs sequels and a crossover of the Lake Placid and Anaconda franchises!

Meanwhile the two parent genres of Creature Features, Sci Fi and Horror, equally performed far above expectations. The ‘Avengers Effect’ was finally proved as the box office gross for Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World sky-rocketed from their last respective outings whilst James Wan hit a one-two punch with the super profitable Insidious: Chapter Two and mega hit The Conjuring.

But enough of that, on to my Best of 2013…
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