Archive for June, 2012

Cult Classics: BACK TO THE FUTURE: PART 2 (1989)

Posted in Old Non Horror Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

The outrageously funny and explosive sequel to the cult hit “Back to the Future” (1985) emerged onto screens four years after its predecessor. The plot picks up exactly where the last film left off, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) has come to warn Marty (Michael J. Fox) and his girlfriend Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue) about their children’s future which sets them all off on a new adventure thirty years into the future, the year 2015 (which will occur three years into the future following this review!).

The construction of the film is both clever and unique, it feels episodic as we see Marty encounter different parallel universes, the 1985 he created in the first film, the futuristic 2015, the grim, seedy 1985 where Biff (Thomas F. Wilson) is a powerful millionaire and of course the 1955 that’s depicted also in the first film. The various settings give the film different tones and constantly keeps it fresh, playing around with new ideas and scenarios. To begin with Marty has a mission to prevent his future son from taking part in a robbery orchestrated by Biff’s grandson Griff! He successfully diffuses the situation early on, leaving the audience in anticipation of where the story will lead. Despite a few similar sequences, its not predictable or a direct re-hash like many other Hollywood sequels. A lot of futuristic films of the era did portray the future as a depressing, industrial setting e.g “Bladerunner” (1982) therefore “Back to the Future: Part 2” puts a refreshing spin on the futuristic, science fiction genre by creating an optimistic world of flying cars, hover-boards and 3D movies (that one is actually accurate!) but also holds a sense of nostalgia with the “Cafe 80’s” theme, this is also an accurate depiction especially with the longing for the 90’s decade that’s occurring in recent popular culture.

Marty has fun with the new world, however problems arise when temptation gets the better of him and he comes across a “Sports Almanac” that will ideally make him rich if he returns to 1985 with it! Marty remains the identifiable teenage hero however this does highlight that he does have flaws which creates layers for the character and makes him human and far from perfect, he learns from his mistakes. Before he knows it the Almanac reaches into the wrong hands and the ageing Biff temporarily steals the time machine to enlighten and benefit his younger self, ultimately changing 1985 into a corrupt and dangerous place.  Marty is horrified to discover the dark, underworld version of “Hill/Hell Valley” that’s controlled by Biff. In this universe his father has been brutally murdered, his brother in prison, his sister in debt and his mother a surgically enhanced alcoholic who’s married to Biff! In order to escape this nightmare Marty with the help of Doc must return to 1955, to the night of the lightning storm to prevent Biff changing history forever! This sequence is the most suspenseful part of the film, keeping the audience on edge as Marty makes several attempts to retrieve the sports almanac to no avail while also facing the challenging task of avoiding meeting his past self and altering history once more! On a technical level the sequence is impressive as it uses scenes from the first film accompanied by Marty’s perspective of seeing how he approached his previous adventure. Its a clever metaphor that leaves us questioning, if we had the chance to look back and see how we handled a situation, how would we analyse it and what would we do differently?

Allegedly the director Rob Zemeckis hadn’t planned to make a sequel however box office numbers went through the roof and a sequel was massively anticipated by fans. Hearing this was quite surprising as the conclusion of the first film heavily indicates the story is not over and leaves the audience hanging on for more as the main characters fly off into the distance in the time machine. Zemeckis only agreed to making the film because Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox both agreed to return, and he also teamed up with his screenwriting partner Bob Gale. Several re-writes occured as Zemeckis and Gale had regretted including the character of Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer embarking on the adventure with them, as for continuity purposes they would need to include a storyline for her character when the ideal preference would have been to create something entirely different, her character is still underused. The original actress who portrayed Jennifer did not return for the sequel therefore a shot for shot re-shoot was constructed of the final sequence. Another issue they stumbled upon was Crispin Glover’s reluctance to reprise his role of George McFly due to failure to agree on his overall salary, meaning the use of the character was now limited; hence a brief appearance in the future scene and the implication he had been murdered by Biff in the dystopian 1985.

The plan had been to set the sequel in 1967, this decision was scrapped when Zemeckis decided that the time paradoxes would allow them to travel back to the original’s setting of 1955 to see the story from a new angle; there is still a sense of curiosity to know what the film would have been like if the original script had been translated to screen. Even though the film was released in 1989 it still keeps to the timeline, using 1985 as the present day. The final instalment of the franchise that was released in 1990 that incorporates a Western setting was filmed back to back with this one, there are some hints of what’s to come thrown in throughout such as a clip of Clint Eastwood from “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964) which compliments the well thought out continuity and structure of the films.

As a sequel “Back to the Future: Part 2” definitely holds up well to the original. While the 1985 film was wacky, quirky, hilarious and suspenseful, this one has even more of those traits! It takes the concepts, characters and special effects of the first film and ramps them up to a high voltage! The actors were able to stretch themselves in terms of performances particularly Michael J. Fox and Thomas F. Wilson as they go from playing themselves and their relatives at different stages from young to middle-aged to elderly. Thomas F. Wilson’s performance as Biff is perfect movie villain material, he is obnoxious, brutal, and plain nasty but luckily for Marty and the audience not invulnerable!  He represents fear of change, fear of control which Marty must conquer. Marty remains likeable, and the hero we all root for. Doc is once again brilliant and provides constant wacky comedy as well as acting as the wise mentor archetype to Marty. There seems to be more scenes with the two together in this instalment as they directly communicate throughout and share the adventures together, they balance each other out well and prove they need to support each other especially when the stakes are raised!! All the characters are well-written and easy for the audience to become invested in, a great strength and the main attraction for the franchise.

“Back to the Future: Part 2” is an excellent follow up and as close to being just as good as the original as your gonna get! Its an edge of-the-seat adventure, thrill ride that gives so much but still leaves you wanting more!  I’ll now conclude this retrospect review on a fun fact, there is an urban legend surrounding the film where apparently the hover-boards from 2015 were actually real but were not released into the public due to safety issues!

If in three years time 2015 is anything like the depiction in this film it’ll be a fun world to live in!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

For my “Back to the Future” (1985) review, click this link: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/cult-classics-back-to-the-future-1985/

“From Grindhouse to Body Modification”: An Interview with the Twisted Twins, Jen and Sylvia Soska.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 15, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Canadian writers and directors Jen and Sylvia Soska are known as the Twisted Twins among the horror circuit. Their debut release “Dead Hooker in a Trunk” (2009) was hugely successful as an appreciation to grindhouse cinema; but for their second feature “American Mary” they have gone for a different approach dealing with the fascinating world of underground surgery and body modification. These talented twins have brought a unique and stylish vision to modern, horror film-making and encourage others to get out there and create something that inspires you! In this detailed interview Jen and Sylvia discuss their approaches to film-making, how they dealt with representing a serious subject for their latest film, fan appreciation, Cannes, feminism, influences of Asian and European cinema, doing their own stunts and much more!

The Twisted Twins recreate a famous scene from “The Shining”, Stephen King was an early inspiration for them.

1.       Can you tell us a little bit about your new film “American Mary”?

S: The film follows medical student, Mary Mason played by Katharine Isabelle, as she grows increasingly broke and disenchanted by medical school and the surgeons she once admired. The allure of easy money and notoriety sends her into the messy world of underground surgeries that leaves more marks on Mary than her so-called ‘freakish’ clientele. I was first introduced to body modification when someone was trying to scare me. It lead me to do what I always do when scared, obsess until I know as much as I can about it – because fears are just stemmed from a lack of knowledge. Instead of differences, I found a lot in common with the people in the community and I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to collaborate with these individuals for AMERICAN MARY.

J: The film itself is very haunting and disturbing, but in a beautiful sort of way. In many ways, stylistically, it is the polar opposite of DHIAT. DEAD HOOKER was very grindhouse and spontaneous while MARY is deliberate and deep. There is depth in the story and the characters. It also deals with the matter of appearances and what makes a monster. I’ve found that in life appearances are very misleading and often the ones in society that come off as good or worthy of trust are anything but, while those who appear a little different and perhaps a little darker aren’t the ones you should be watching out for. We’ve always felt like outcasts ourselves and being identical twins we often have to battle against the stereotypes of what people expect us to be. MARY does question one’s perceptions of right and wrong and good and evil in a very unique way.

2.       Would you say there are similarities between “AM” and your debut release “Dead Hooker in a Trunk?”

S: We try to write something that entertains and means something to us and has something personal in it. MARY is much more personal than DEAD HOOKER as it is an analogy of our time in the film industry, but the dark sense of humour, language, and content is the same. We took a fair bit of shit from some people reviewing DEAD HOOKER in regards to the camera work, characters, and story – all those things were a principle focus on MARY. HOOKER was a love letter to grind house filmmaking whereas MARY is hugely inspired by European and Asian horror filmmaking.

J: We put ourselves into our work so there will always be similarities between our films regardless of the content and the genre. I don’t think it’s possible for us to write something without elements of horror and humor, two things that we find go beautifully together. There’s nothing like giving your audience a little breath or an awkward laugh when things get a bit too heavy and dark. I’m pretty desensitized to the horror we put into our films so I can lose touch with how extreme some aspects of it can be. Like the extreme moments in DHIAT, there are some very disturbing moments in MARY. And we enjoy writing strong female characters. It was something that we felt was really lacking when we were acting and we try to write the kind of roles we would have liked to be offered to us.

3.       What was the most rewarding part of making the film?

S: The audience reaction to the film is what I live for. It’s also extremely stressful and nerve-racking because you never know how people will react to your film. I felt like I was on the verge of being sick up til the worldwide market premiere screening of AMERICAN MARY at the Cannes market. The audience, excluding one woman who ran out for content reasons, really dug the flick and it was cool to see them laugh and cringe – it makes everything worth it.

J: Definitely the audience reactions. We are horror fans ourselves and we try to make the kind of work that we’d like to see. We’ll always make our films with the fans in mind. Another wonderful thing about this film in particular is acceptance and challenging people’s views on those society deems outcasts. I think this film will open a healthy discussion about body modification and challenge the reasons why it is not universally seen as acceptable while “cosmetic surgery” is. I see no difference between the two accept for the fact that cosmetic surgery is largely used for people to fit into society’s idea of what is perceived as beautiful whereas body modification caters to enhancing one’s own ideal of beauty and individuality.

4.       The film’s theme depicts a world of underground surgery, what sort of research did you have to do in order to portray this?

S: It’s very important to Jen and me to have honesty in our work, it makes it more relatable even in a fantastical situation like filmmaking. The underground surgeries, the procedures and body modification community is very real. They don’t stop being who they are after the film is finished and given that this is one of the first films, if not the first feature film, to put that culture into the spotlight, we wanted to properly represent them. I think too often people make judgements without really looking into what or who they are talking about and I didn’t want that to happen in this situation.

We brought members of the community onto the production. Russ Foxx was our flesh artist consultant and him and Katie went through different techniques to keep it genuine. We mixed the phenomenal prosthetics from the Masters FX team with authentic members of the body mod community, so you’re never really sure if you’re seeing something real or something created. From my experience, I’m a huge fan of the body mod community and the people in that community. I think the film is going to change a lot of people’s ideas of what these people are actually like.

J: We wouldn’t be able to write something without researching it heavily. We spoke to the community and I’ve had so many conversations with Russ Foxx, who was wonderful. I felt like a bit of an idiot with the things I’d ask about, but he was always a gentleman, occasionally reacting with a little laugh, and always a deep, thoughtful explanation.

5.       You’ve recently taken “AM” to the Cannes Film Festival, how was it received there?

S: I felt absolutely spoiled by the audience’s reaction to the film. It was extremely well received. At a market screening, you’re up against official festival selections and a lot of your audience are buyers that watch ten minutes of a film before rushing to another screening, audiences rarely react the way a festival audience would. I was prepared for that, but it wasn’t what we got. What we got was a packed room with a responsive audience that sat even through the credits and stuck around late into the night with us, talking about the film. One woman got up and hurried out shaking her head at a scene that I call radical feminism, like a bra burning to the nth degree, but I don’t think she would agree with me.

J: It was more than we had hoped for and more than we had expected. AM had her world wide market premiere at the festival and traditionally those are lightly attended with little focus on the film and frequently have people coming and going. It’s vastly different from a festival screening where you have the benefit of fans being in attendance. We had a full audience and people laughed and groaned and whispered excitedly. It was incredible. I felt so humbled to be there. ha ha, and they even laughed at our bilingual jokes. I was all like, “how’d they know what he said without subtitles? Oh, yeah, we’re in Europe, ha ha.”

At the Cannes Film Festival with the Abertoir Festival Organisers.

6.       What’s coming up next for the film, will it be going around the horror festival circuit?

S: Next will be the film’s official in festival film festival screenings. We are still waiting confirmation before we can announce it, but we are hoping to start towards the end of the summer. I’m very excited to see how people react to the film because it is so different.

J: We’ll definitely be hitting the film festival circuit as we’re dying to show the film to the fans. We can’t say where it’ll have its official festival premiere just yet, but look for it towards the end of the summer. And don’t worry. When we can say, we will say. Loud. There’s no chance you’ll miss hearing about it, ha ha

7.       What’s the main appeal of making horror films?

S: It’s funny because we never set out to make a horror film. We love horror films, we grew up on them, and love prosthetics as that’s what really got us into our horror love. Knowing that everything you see on screen is a collaborative effort with the intention of scaring the audience was something that my mom taught me when I was ten and freaked out by POLTERGEIST. We made DEAD HOOKER as an anti-chick flick road trip movie. We had some pretty serious gore and stunts in there which made it more of a cult-style horror. Then, when we started writing AMERICAN MARY, we planned on making it a more ‘straight forward’ horror and it just ended up taking this life of its own. Sometimes horrible things happen and the best way I can deal with that is if I put it into a script, then I have control over that situation. It’s not that horror films are the only kind of film that I am interested in making, I just don’t know if I would make a story without prosthetics and something horrific.

J: We’ve been drawn to horror our entire lives. I’m not sure if it’s the thrill of it or the ability to watch a horror movie or read a horror story and come closer to darkness and evil and danger than you ever could in your real life and be able to walk away completely unscathed at the end of it. Or it could be that whole “you’re not supposed to” aspect of it. Horror is bad. Stay away from it. The more people hear “no”, the more they are naturally drawn towards the forbidden. It’s like a morbid curiosity or fascination. Fear is a learned emotion. If your mother jumped on a chair and screamed like crazy every time she saw a spider, you would have sub consciously learned to be afraid of them. We were fortunate enough to be raised with a mother who let us watch scary movies and read Stephen King novels at an early age. I highly recommend it. It’s great to vastly improve your reading level at an early age. We were never discouraged from our love of the strange and unusual. I’ve always felt that we, ourselves, are strange and unusual.

8.       Who would you say your main influences are in terms of directors and style?

S: Robert Rodriguez and Carlos Gallardo were a huge influence on us and what really got us to make DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK. Also, the directors behind the multi-collaborative GRINDHOUSE had a bug influence on us. If it wasn’t for that film, I don’t think we would be where we are today – it came a perfect time when we needed to feel excited about making movies, enough to make our own. A lot of AMERICAN MARY is influenced by European and Asian cinema and directors like Lars Von Trier, David Cronenberg, Takeshi Miike, Yoshihiro Nishimaru, and Clive Barker.

J: Everyone that Sylv just listed. We are die hard comic nerds and gamers so we’ve taken inspiration from Stan Lee and Hideo Kojima. Another director I adore is Joss Whedon. His writing is superb, his characters are unique and iconic. His dialogue is phenomenal and he writes these beautiful story lines that unfold in the most rewarding of ways. His character interaction is flawless.

9.       What’s the best part about collaborating with each other on your projects?

S: I feel really lucky to have Jen. We’ve been best friends our entire lives and we work together like it’s second nature because it is. We joke that Jen is the Joss Whedon because of how she writes and how funny she is and that I’m the Lars Von Trier because I put scarring shit in everything. Somehow, even though we are totally different, we really compliment her. I don’t know how I could work without her. We break down scripts together, then scenes, then tag team write – one of us plays video games while the other types. Either gets blocked or stuck, we swap out, and the other goes over what was written and tweaks. It’s a lot of fun. We also have different focuses on set for the same goal, so we divide and conquer which I always think must be a little confusing for the cast and crew because we look alike.

J: Sylv is an amazing writing, director, and artist. People ask us what it’s like to work with one another and I honestly don’t know how people do it alone. We could work separately, but why would we want to? We can cut our tasks in two and divide and conquer or come together to really tackle something head on. Sylv is very driven, passionate about her work, and has this incredible dark and creative mind. We’re as similar as we are different. I often say we always end up at the same place, but we take very different paths to get there. I’ve read so much about writers endlessly hunting for writing partners. I’m blessed that I was born with one.

10.   You’ve both trained in martial arts and are able to do all your own stunts in your films, is that a lot of fun to do? And what challenges does it present?

S: I love martial arts and doing my own stunt work. On the teaser trailer for DEAD HOOKER, we did all of our own stunts and I got a little injured. Our original Cowboy Pimp thought I was a cunt and wanted to teach me a lesson, so he booked it for my horse drag and I lost a few inches of skin. When you have a feature and lots of scenes to shoot in a short period of time, you can risk any injury, so we still did a lot of our own work, but I had this brilliant stunt performer, Maja Stace-Smith, do the horse drag and the double kick in that fight. She doesn’t get enough credit – she is a real super woman.

J: Oh, we love martial arts and stunts! We have so much respect for the professionals that do it. We get pretty excited about it, but we try to not have our excitement suggest that we don’t have a lot of respect for the challenges and risks involved. For us, a new challenge is getting the okay to still do our own stunts. People worry and say “what if something happens to you?”. That’s kind of ignorant, actually. Anytime a stunt professional works, they are risking their safety and often their lives. I understand the risks involved and I would never ever attempt to do anything of that sort without trained professionals preparing me and being present.

And doing stunts is really a thrill. It’s a rush, that’s undeniable. It’s like doing martial arts and sparring. You just get this amazing rush and it’s wonderful. I’ve wanted to be a superhero as far back as I can remember. It makes me feel like I am.

11.   So, what’s next for the Soska Sisters? Have you got any future projects coming up?

S: I’m really excited for what we have coming up. We’re very proud of our hometown, Vancouver, and are teaming up with the Rio Theatre, who were the ones to screen DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, to have monthly horror nights which includes horror burlesque shows with Tristan Risk, one of our stars from AMERICAN MARY, and Russ Foxx, whose human tackle box shows are like a cenobite’s wet dream, with us hosting. We are also looking to get to work on the next film soon. We have some very cool opportunities not only with our own scripts but bringing some people’s work that we greatly admire to a big screen adaptation.

J: We have a lot of interest in our “next one”. At this point, it’s tough to tell what it’ll be. We have several scripts ready to go, but we’ve been talking about directing someone else’s work, which is pretty cool. You can expect whatever it is that we’ll have our horror and humor elements in there. We want to have our next one started by year end. I’d really love to do BOB. It’s a script we wanted to get going before MARY, but she’s an undeniable lady. She wanted to be made and she is really relevant to right now. I feel BOB is the same. It’s a blend between the styles of DHIAT and MARY. It’s as vicious as it is hilarious. And, of course, very unique.

12.   Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers who want to become involved in the horror genre?

S: I would say that you should just do it. You have all the resources in the world, accessible technology, you can shoot on digital inexpensively, and you can learn from your favourite filmmakers through DVD commentary, books, interviews, and even speak to some directly online to learn how to pull it off. Rodriguez’s first hand account of EL MARIACHI, ‘Rebel Without A Crew’, was our Bible on DEAD HOOKER. Lloyd Kaufman’s ‘Make Your Own Damn Movie’ series is awesome. Learn as much as you can, make a project that means something to you, that is different, and that you don’t mind dedicating the next few years of your life to, and make it. Too many people wait for an opportunity to live their dream, we wasted years waiting for ours, so we got a killer group together with the same passion for filmmaking and made ours. As long as you stay focused and work your ass off, you will be successful.

J: Go make a movie, don’t just talk about it. Is it scary? Abso-fucking-lutely. But that’s part of the fun of it. You will never learn as much from reading about it or film school as you will from actually going out there and doing it for yourself. And at the end of it, you’ll have a movie that’s yours. I’d recommend watching a lot of movies. Sylv and I watch something new every day. Start with your heroes that inspire you and then try to see why their work is so good. Is it the way they use music? Is it the editing choices? Is it the framing? Is it the dialogue? The characters? And do the same thing with anything and everything you watch. You can learn more from a shitty movie than a good movie. Try to see where it became a bad movie and why so you can avoid doing that in the future.

And never use the excuse that “we didn’t have enough time” or “we didn’t have enough money”. If something sucks, don’t use it. No one cares why it sucks, they just see that it sucks. Pool your resources. Make a list of things you have available to you from locations (a business, an apartment, a church, a community hall) to props to cool things that will make your film stand out from the rest (an exotic animal, a classic car, anything unique). You’ll be surprised by how much you have available to you. Think of an idea for your film that gets you excited every time you think about it because you’ll be talking about it for the rest of your life. For Robert Rodriguez, it was a man with a guitar case filled with guns in EL MARIACHI. For us it was a dead hooker in a trunk. Also, don’t listen to anyone who tries to discourage you. If we stopped every time someone quite literally laughed in our faces, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Go do it!

Thank You to Jen and Sylvia for taking the time out to do this interview for Hayley’s Movie and TV Reviews,  I wish them every success with American Mary.

Interview Conducted By: Hayley Alice Roberts.

The Official Website for the Twisted Twins: http://www.twistedtwinsproductions.net/

The Official Facebook Page for “American Mary”: https://www.facebook.com/pages/American-Mary/167825893248295

For More info on reviews and interviews, please take a look at… https://www.facebook.com/HayleysMovieAndTvReviews

Something to Die For: Horror Movies with Hayley

Posted in Uncategorized on June 15, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Check out this teaser trailer for my up and coming new horror based review show, edited by James Moore. Keep your eyes wide open for more details very soon…..

https://www.facebook.com/RobertsMooreCoverage

Hayley Alice Roberts

TV Character Study: The Case of Lana Lang (Smallville)

Posted in Old Non Horror Reviews with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**Note: This review is based on analysing a character from a TV show of my choice. It will look at what was successful about them, what worked and what didn’t, their main story-lines and contribution as well as a broad audience reception of them. With certain shows there are so much that can be said however this will merely focus on a summary of the proposed discussions. If you have any feedback please feel free to comment on this post as well as post requests of future character studies you would like to see and I’ll do my best. Many Thanks.**

The re-imagining of Superman’s early years began in 2001 in the shape of “Smallville” (2001-2011). When the show started it focused on Clark Kent’s early years as a teenager, dealing with the various trials and tribulations of growing up, keeping secrets, Lex Luthor and meteor freaks! In this review the focus will turn to a rather controversial character that fans of both the comics and the show share divided views on, Lana Lang. In this review Lana is going to be examined as a character in “Smallville”, along with her contribution to the series in terms of storyline and audience reception. So let’s have a look at the love of Clark Kent’s life! Lois Lane ! Sorry I mean that other girl that shaped Clark in terms of becoming the superhero we all know today (in the “Smallville” universe of course!).

Lana Lang appeared in the “Pilot” (#1.1). She was a central part to the beginning of the show, even having screen time before Clark’s eagerly-awaited appearence. Her parents were killed in the meteor shower. This event enabled her to become closely connected with the main characters and storylines. As a teenager, Lana was the typical girl-next-door and a high school crush for Clark. In a similar vein to the concept of her in the comics, the main difference was the change of physical appearence for the character, Lana was no longer the red-headed cheerleader fans were familiar with in the comics and the Christopher Reeve films. She was portrayed by Kristin Kreuk and was now a brunette, her origin’s are unclear however it was implied heavily in the fourth season that she had French ancestors. Clearly the show was aiming for Lana to be a love interest for a long time and wanted to bring something new to her character as well as having an attractive leading lady to capture the male audience. She was there as an equal to Clark in appearance and personality. As his first love she would be a key factor in his development especially as they were depicting Superman’s early years. The main problems arose when the writers kept her in the show as a primary love interest up to season eight.

The Girl-Next-Door Lana in Season One

The issue to  begin with was that Lana acted as the damsel in distress, finding herself placed in situations where she was at risk for Clark where he had to physically save her e.g. “Metamorphosis” (#1.2), “X-Ray” (#1.4), “Accelerate” (#2.21). In the early days it was down to the fact she wore a kryptonite filled necklace which is the one element Clark is affected by (sticking to “Superman” lore!) . The necklace symbolized the doomed nature of their relationship and acted as a warning sign from the beginning,  eventually becoming more symbolic in her departure. The other female lead, Chloe (a whole new character created for the show) was smart and was able to help Clark through investigating meteor freak behavior as well as collecting information that eventually went onto her “wall of weird”. Chloe was the nerdy best friend archetype, however she contributed much more than the love interest did at this stage, even as far as possessing similar qualities to Lois as an ambitious reporter. Therefore the audience were expected to just accept the fact that Clark was infatuated with this girl without real reason when Chloe seemed more well-suited to him. Lana did possess likable qualities, she was kind and friendly and cared about those around her even putting others needs before her own.

Young Love: “Clana”

One of the more frustrating aspects of Lana was the writer’s slow build-up towards her romance with Clark, (yes five seasons we’re talking here!). There were many attempts at romance e.g. “Exodus” (#2.23), the main reason it was always stalled was due to Lana constantly suspecting something different about Clark and being unable to fully trust him, it was made worse following Clark’s encounters with red kryptonite which caused him to behave rebelliously and almost as a stereotypical jock/jerk towards Lana (“Red” #2.4). Ideas of romance were played with in the form of alternate realities e.g. “Relic” (#3.6). Even though it became tedious and had fans screaming “GET TOGETHER ALREADY!!!” it was actually a legitimate reason on the character’s part to be hesitant, she couldn’t give herself completely unless she knew the whole mystery surrounding Clark Kent. This did give her character an intelligent side as well as a cautious one as it demonstrated how she wasn’t going to give in too easily and thought things through. However in later years when she did discover the truth behind Clark’s secret she accepted it and would go to any lengths in order to protect him (e.g. “Promise” #6.16) where she married Lex Luthor following a threat made by his father Lionel where if she didn’t marry Lex, Clark would die! In one of the best episodes of the entire series “Reckoning” (#5.12) Clark proposed to Lana after telling her the truth about his alien nature. Lana accepted and it seemed like a “happy ever after” was in store. Sadly, the fact that Lana kept the truth from a continuously suspicious Lex meant tragic consequences for her as she was involved in a car smash after being chased by Lex and died. Even though tragic this could have been a fitting and dignified end for her character, she would have been difficult for Clark to get over and would have held a great and profound impact over his life but with the help of Lois Lane, his eventual wife it could have provided a better development for that relationship rather than an “out-of-nowhere” crush beginning in season eight.  Clark was able to turn back the clock and his perfect moments with Lana were now a memory only for him, leading to an interesting turn of events which saw the match of “Lexana” much to fans dismay, but we’ll get to that later! The destruction of their possible happy life together only added to the hints of their doomed relationship. In season seven the characters made another attempt at a relationship, a shock twist came in the form of Clark being inhabited by Bizzaro and Lana admitting she had felt more of a connection when he wasn’t himself to when he actually was Clark. By this point the writer’s were going too far and were recycling everything the audience was aware of, Clark and Lana were not meant to be!

Lana possessed by the spirit of the Countess Thoreaux

Being a pretty love interest was not enough for the character to remain on the show therefore the obvious direction would be to give her superpowers. This was something the writers toyed with throughout Lana’s stint on the show, however they did not keep it as a consistent factor and just seemed to be throwing various different scenarios at the audience. Lana has had super strength (“Wrath” (#7.7), she was possessed by a powerful witch (“Spell” #4.8, “Sacred” #4.15), and became a vampire (“Thirst” #5.5). When she left the show she was bound in a skin suit made from nano-technology as well as alien DNA providing her with superpowers, finally she could become Clark’s equal in terms of strength and they could save the world together, although Lex had other plans for that! The suit unfortunately enabled her to absorb kryptonite energy making her repellent to Clark forever (“Requiem (#814). These stories were both compelling and fun to watch however felt inconsistent, as one moment she had powers and the next they were gone giving a gimmick feel to the character and storylines. A personal favorite of Lana’s powers has to be the witch posession as it transformed her character from a meek, shy girl into an ass-kicking, dangerous woman not to be messed with! She held her own against the strong masculine characters e.g. Clark and her then “love interest” Jason Teague. Kristin Kreuk was also given the opportunity to show her potential as a surprising leading lady. Its possible that episodes like these encouraged the creators to keep her around longer than intended as Kristin delivered some unforgettable performances and showed believable chemistry with Tom Welling.

Lana and her biological father Henry Small, the storyline was short-lived!

The family in Lana’s life was inconsistent. She became independent extremely fast through running her own business at The Talon. With her parents gone, she was brought up by her Aunt Nell who departed the series early on in order to live with a new boyfriend. Lana discovered her father wasn’t who she thought he was and her biological father was still alive and living in Smallville, going by the name of Henry Small (“Lineage” #2.7). She began to build a bond with him, however the storyline was shortly dropped and  to recollection was not mentioned again. Stability was a lacking factor in Lana’s life contributing to her lack of trust in others. The death of her parents made her stronger and drove her to fight and become a stronger person, the beginning of this transformation showed her taking on self-defence classes following an accident.

Lana and her season four boyfriend Jason Teague

Other than Clark and Lex, Lana had two other big relationships in the series, Whitney in Season One and Jason Teague in Season Four. Both these men shared similarities, both human, both football players/jock types and both jealous of Clark which eventually drove them crazy. It appeared that on the surface Lana was attracted to these two as they seemed safe and relatively “normal” and were not as challenging to be around as Clark was. Lana soon realized in both relationships that she belonged with Clark, therefore these two represented a sense of realization for her in terms of where she wanted to be in her life. When Lana made the decision to leave Whitney she was held back with the news of his father’s illness, instead of abandoning him she put him before her own happiness and supported him. In Jason’s case, he came out of nowhere, viewers were led to believe that Lana had met him by chance in Paris, however there was more to him than met the eye. In the beginning their relationship seemed very innocent as they went about it in secret, Lana was serious about Jason however matters became complex when his mother Genevieve became involved. In Paris, Lana had developed a mark of transference on her lower back which was connected to her ancestor the Countess Thoreaux. Genevieve was hiding something, Lana had dreampt of her prior to meeting Jason. It turned out that Genevieve had orchestrated the whole relationship as the Countess was burned at the stake by their ancestors and vowed revenge one day. The Teague’s ancestor had been obsessed with searching for the stones of knowledge leading Jason and Lex to China on a similar quest. Eventually Lana felt distrust in their relationship and grew tired of it revolving around the stones. In the end Lana, possessed once more by the Countess killed Genevieve while Lex orchestrated Jason’s death in the second meteor shower. She now felt Jason used her to find the stones and demonstrated no remorse for his loss. The storyline took a surprising turn with Jason becoming more unlikable. By the fifth season when Lana was made aware of his death she showed little remorse, her character began to grow and harden emotionally.

“Lexana”

Returning to “Lexana”, one of the most twisted and unexpected relationships in the show’s history, it provided drama and conflict and showed Lex at his nastiest and the levels he would sink. In Lana’s case, the story depicted a woman entering adulthood and making the wrong decisions. Lana and Lex had been close friends throughout the early years, even co-owning the Talon together. They both shared similar frustration of not being able to work Clark out and built up a sense of trust. He kept the Talon open for her even though it was not profitable as he knew what it meant to her, he paid for her trip to Paris at the end of the third season and looked out for her against the Teague’s. They grew even closer in the fifth season following the second meteor shower in which she confided in him regarding information about a spaceship landing on earth (“Arrival” #5.1). Following “Reckoning” (#5.12) Lana began to feel trust in Lex over Clark as he appeared “honest” with her, ruthlessly Lex wanted her for himself and arranged for a powerful hypnotist to separate her from Clark (“Hypnotic” #5.16) to which he was successful. Lana began to fall for him deeply, even moving into the Luthor mansion. Unknown to her Lex kept plenty from her including his dealings with Milton Fine/Brainiac, the truth behind the sinister level 33.1 and in a sickening tactic convinced her she was pregnant with his child only to then suffer a miscarriage when she was not even pregnant in the first place! Lex also created a clone of her without her knowledge. Once Lana discovered the truth she swore vengeance. This was the moment where she became headstrong, resourceful and powerful. She faked her own death by using the clone to frame Lex and went into hiding. Lex allowed Lana to return to Smallville with the promise she’d be free of him. Revenge was the only way forward for her at this point but it almost destroyed her. She spied on Lex constantly, even viciously attacked him when she temporarily absorbed Clark’s powers. She was a broken woman trying to keep it together and needed redemption. Her intentions were semi-good as she used the ISIS foundation, a project she began in order to help the meteor-infected and those affected by Lex’s experiments so she could keep a close eye on him. She began to show Luthor-like qualities bringing in a darkness to her character.

Lana’s final scene

By the time Lana exited the show she was a strong, confident and powerful woman using her gifts for good and helping people. Her final scene was moving and emotional as she gave Clark one last kiss which almost drained him of his life, ironically metaphorical of their relationship throughout the entire series. Lana was a crucial character to “Smallville’s” beginning’s,  she was played brilliantly by Kristin Kreuk and provided the show with some of its more interesting storylines. The main problem for hardcore fans was that Lana was completely different from the familiar character depicted in the comic books. Lana didn’t provide as much drama as she did in “Smallville”, her relationship with Clark was not as epic and “Lexana” didn’t exist. In fact Lana married Clark’s best friend Pete, and became First Lady of the United States when Pete was elected president over Lex. As previously mentioned she was also kept around longer than needed in “Smallville” and took priority over developing Clark’s relationship with Lois Lane which became infuriating as stories surrounding “Clana’s” dying romance became recycled over and over. TVtropes.org labels Lana as a “Creator’s Pet”  (SEE: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/CreatorsPet/LiveActionTV) which to an extent is true, allegedly the ratings were dropping due to her extensive screen time which the writer’s ignored. She could never do anything wrong and became raved about by other characters such as Chloe even if she had done wrong to her. The superpowers element bothered fans as she was never intended to be an ass-kicking superhero type, it was as if the writers intended to convince the viewers to love her character which simply did not work. Lana’s best storylines include her season four arc as well as her fall into darkness because of Kristin’s performance, other than that the character did weigh the show down and it could have gone in a different direction much earlier without including her.

So, what are your thoughts on Lana Lang? Please comment below.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Creepy Music Videos Review

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Hayley Alice Roberts