Ridley Scott’s film Alien is considered one of the greatest films of all time, horror or otherwise. Released in 1979, it received wide acclaim and grosses $80.9 million domestically ($267.8 million in 2016 dollars) on an $11 million budget. With that kind of success, a sequel was inevitable. James Cameron’s Aliens was released in 1986 to widespread critical acclaim and a massive box office gross. Some say it even surpasses Scott’s film in terms of quality (personally, I think Alien is a better film but I would re-watch Aliens over Alien any day of the week). Why did it take seven years for Aliens to get released? It’s was a long, troubled road to get Aliens to the big screen, but it all worked out for the best.
After the huge success that was Alien, Brandywine Productions was fully intent on churning out a sequel. Alan Ladd, Jr., the president of 20th Century Fox at the time, fully backed the project (he’d have been a fool not to). Unfortunately, 20th Century Fox was put under new ownership towards the end of 1979 and Ladd left the company. Norman Levy was brought in as the new president and rumor has it that he though a sequel would have been too expensive for the company to produce. Meanwhile David Giler, Walter Hill and Gordon Carroll, the owners of Brandywine Productions, sued Fox over the disbursement of the profits that Alien had made. This lawsuit would not be settled until 1983, four years after Alien was released. Imagine for a moment what would have happened had neither side reached an amicable agreement. Or what if there was too much bad blood between Brandywine and Fox? We may have never had Aliens (or at least the version of Aliens we know and love).
By this point Fox had gone through more turnover and new executives were employed. Larry Wilson, the development executive sought out a writer for the film. He read James Cameron’s script for The Terminator and was impressed, so he showed the script to Giler who was equally impressed. The only problem was that Cameron had just started pre-production on The Terminator, so there was no way to fast-track production of what was then known as Alien II. Cameron wanted to direct the film so badly that he wrote a treatment anyway. That treatment was met with mixed reception and it was then announced that production on The Terminator would be delayed by nine months because Arnold Schwarzenegger was stuck filming Conan the Destroyer. That gave Cameron enough time to work on the script for Alien II. He turned in 90 pages (which equates to about 90 minutes in screen time) to new Fox president Larry Gordon, who loved the script. He loved it so much, in fact, that he agreed to wait until Cameron was done on The Terminator just so that he could direct the film, which then became Aliens.
While all of that nearly prevented Aliens from getting made, the hurdles during filming didn’t stop there. It turns out that locking down Sigourney Weaver to reprise her role as Ellen Ripley would be no easy task. She had rejected numerous offers from Fox to star in the film (before a script had been written), but even when she did show an interest after reading Cameron’s script, the contract negotiations took some work. Rumor has it that the negotiations were so drawn out that Cameron and his wife (Gale AnnHurd, a producer on the film) called Arnold Schwarzenegger’s agent saying that they were going to write Ripley out of the film, knowing his agent would relay the information to Weaver’s agent who then told the Head of Production at 20th Century Fox. Soon thereafter a deal with Weaver was in place.
Production for Aliens was also somewhat tumultuous. The film was shot at Pinewood Studios in England and Cameron found it difficult to get used to their work practices (i.e., taking tea breaks that would bring production to a halt). There was tension between the crew and Hurd, who thought she only had her job because she was married to Cameron. Things got so heated at one point that the entire crew walked out after the original Director of Photography was fired mid-shoot (Hurd managed to get them all back on set). Composer James Horner ran into issues with Cameron as well. He was given six weeks to compose the score, but upon arrival in England realized that the film was not yet complete and they were still in the editing process. Because of this he had only three weeks to compose the score for the film.
As you can see, Aliens was loaded with problems from the get-go and it’s sort of a miracle it turned out as well as it did. If anything, the many problems Aliens faced should be comforting to movie-watchers. It just goes to show that even after many hurdles a film can still turn out alright (so those of you worried about the re-shoots of Rogue One can rest a little easier). Despite all of the issues, Aliens turned out to be one of the best sci-fi/action movies of all time (it even snagged seven Academy Awards nominations, winning two of them). Go give Aliens a watch today, just make sure it’s the far superior Special Edition.
There’s a cautious optimism that’s now felt by many Resident Evil fans in the months leading up to the arrival of the latest game that’s beginning to feel comparable to the legacy left by the cancellation of Silent Hills and Konami’s scorched earth campaign against designer Hideo Kojima that claimed, among other things, the brilliant P.T. demo.
This hasn’t always been true. It wasn’t until the promising P.T.-inspired Allison Road met the same sudden fate as its source material that my worries shifted. I’m eager to see if one (or more) of the various attempts indie developers are making to salvage something worthwhile from the blast radius of Kojima’s shattered vision for the beloved series, and right now, it’s in SadSquare Studio’s psychological horror game Visage that I can see the most potential.
In March, more than 3,200 people donated about $93,000 to help the studio realize that potential, so clearly I’m not alone. That’s a significant investment, and it’s one that its developer seems to be acutely aware of.
In a recent post on the game’s Kickstarter campaign, the team behind it promised to provide an update — even if it’s a slow month in terms of progress — with the community on the 13th day of every month. That same post also confirms Visage will is being built with optional support for virtual reality headsets, including the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
The game’s first-person perspective and the genre to which it belongs make it a wonderful candidate for virtual reality, which the writer of the post believes “is going to redefine the boundaries of how scary a horror game can be.” I couldn’t agree more.
In related news, Visage will feature animations enhanced by motion capture technology and aurally pleasing sound design courtesy of SilverJack Studio and Jonathan Wachoru, lead sound designer on Outlast. It’s currently expected to release next January for PC.
Sean Byrne, the director of the Aussie The Loved Ones, is continuing his festival run with his new chiller, The Devil’s Candy, which stars Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and Kiara Glasco.
“In this creepily haunted-house tale a struggling painter is possessed by satanic forces after he and his young family move into their dream home in rural Texas.“
The Devil’s Candy had its World Premiere at the Midnight Madness portion of the Toronto International Film Festival last September. While we wait for news on a U.S. distributor and release date, the heavy metal horror film will release soon in Russia, which is where the following trailer hails from. Too bad it’s not in English nor has subtitles. At least you’ll get a taste of the imagery and production value.
Thanks to Fabien M. for the tip.
Kino Lorber has announced their August Blu-ray releases and it’s a good batch. Only a handful of horror titles, but there’s a number of classic westerns. The horror titles are Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? and Chandu the Magician, which are firmly in line with the type of horror films Kino Lorber gives us on a regular basis. August is shaping up to be another solid month of Blu-ray releases. Check out full details below!
THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940)
Blu-ray Street Date: August 2, 2016
Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Basil Rathbone, Gale Sondergaard, Eugene Pallette
Synopsis: The Mark Of Zorro is regarded by most as the finest telling of the Zorro legend – screen icon Tyrone Power (Rawhide) stars as 19th century nobleman Don Diego de Vega, whose father, the mayor of Los Angeles, is removed from office by the sinister Captain Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone, The Black Sleep), and a new corrupt regime. By day, the crooked politicians rob the citizenry at every turn, and at night, Don Diego, wearing a mask, defies their laws and avenges the innocents. As he leaves his trademark – the letter “Z” – wherever he goes, he also leaves an impression on the mayor’s niece (Linda Darnell, Hangover Square), who can’t help but love the hero in disguise. Featuring top-notch direction by the great Rouben Mamoulian (Love Me Tonight, Blood and Sand).
Special Features: Audio Commentary by Film Critic Richard Schickel | Tyrone Power: The Last Idol Documentary
Blu-ray Street Date: August 2, 2016
Director: Henry Hathaway
Starring Tyrone Power, Susan Hayward, Jack Elam, Dean Jagger, Hugh Marlowe, Edgar Buchanan, George Tobias, Jeff Corey
Synopsis:This riveting western filled with gripping action stars screen legends Tyrone Power (The Mark of Zorro) and Susan Hayward (I Want to Live!). With a band of outlaws on the loose, stationmaster Sam Todd (Edgar Buchanan) and his tenderfoot underling Tom Owens (Power), a woman passenger Vinnie Holt (Hayward) and her infant niece hideout in the safety of his station until law can be restored. But when the murderous bunch arrives to take control of the station, it will be up to the mild-mannered Owens to outsmart the outlaws before they can execute their deadly plans. The great Henry Hathaway (23 Paces to Baker Street) directed this suspenseful and thrilling western featuring a stellar cast that includes Hugh Marlowe, Dean Jagger, Jack Elam, George Tobias and Jeff Corey.
Special Features:Susan Hayward: Hollywood’s Straight Shooter Featurette | “Shoot it in the Lone Pine!” Featurette | Restoration Comparison
CANADIAN PACIFIC (1949) Newly restored in HD!
Blu-ray & DVD Street Date: August 9, 2016
Director: Edwin L. Marin
Starring Randolph Scott, Jane Wyatt, J. Carrol Naish, Victor Jory, Nancy Olson
Synopsis: Western legend Randolph Scott (Western Union, The Caribou Trail) is Tom Andrews, a man desperately trying save the railroad with the help of demolitions expert, Dynamite Dawson (J. Carrol Naish, Sahara). Opposing them is a band of trappers headed by Dirk Rourke (Victor Jory, The Miracle Worker) who sabotages the railroad construction and incites the local Indians to rebel against the project. Jane Wyatt (House by the River) and Nancy Olson (Sunset Boulevard) co-star in this action-packed western featuring wonderful direction by Edwin L. Marin (Colt .45) and rousing score from legendary composer Dimitri Tiomkin (Rio Bravo).
Special Features:Restoration Documentary: Recombining and restoring a 66 year-old Cinecolor puzzle of more than 400,000 pieces in HD. Canadian Pacific on 16mm: Excerpts from a very rare original 16mm CineColor print elements (reel 1A+B) (18 min. in HD) Canadian Pacific on 8mm: Rare short feature for home screening of the film on 8mm (B/W print) (8 min. in HD)
THE CARIBOO TRAIL (1950) Newly restored in HD!
Blu-ray & DVD Street Date: August 9, 2016
Director: Edwin L. Marin
Starring Randolph Scott, George ‘Gabby’ Hayes, Victor Jory, Jim Davis, Dale Robertson, Bill Williams
Synopsis: Western icon Randolph Scott (Western Union, Canadian Pacific) co-stars with Bill Williams (TV’s The Adventures of Kit Carson) as cowboys leading a small herd of cattle from Montana to the Northwest Territories, one looking for rangeland the other for gold. While driving their cattle along The Caribou Trail, the two men encounter a toll bridge run by the local cattle king (Victor Jory, The Miracle Worker) and his henchmen. But when the men refuse to pay the toll, their cattle is stampeded and all hell breaks loose in this action-packed western that has it all. George ‘Gabby’ Hayes (Tall in the Saddle) leads the supporting cast that includes Karin Booth (Tobor the Great), Douglas Kennedy (The Amazing Transparent Man), Jim Davis (TV’s Dallas) and Dale Robertson (TV’s Tales of Wells Fargo). Directed by Hollywood veteran Edwin L. Marin (A Christmas Carol).
Special Features:Restoration Documentary: recombining and restoring two-strip CineColor components The Cariboo Trail on 8mm: rare short feature for home screening of the film on 8mm (B/W print) (8 min; in HD)
WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO? (1971) Newly Re-mastered in HD!
Blu-ray & DVD Street Date: August 16, 2016
Director: Curtis Harrington
Starring Shelly Winters, Mark Lester, Ralph Richardson, Lionel Jeffries, Hugh Griffith
Synopsis: Auntie Roo (Shelley Winters, He Ran All the Way) just loves children… to death. After the mysterious disappearance of her daughter, Auntie Roo has been looking for a ‘dead ringer’ replacement. And this time she found one… from the local orphanage! But what is she to do with the girl’s pesky brother when he discovers Roo’s terrible secret in the attic? Top-notch direction by cult filmmaker Curtis Harrington (Queen of Blood, Night Tide) and featuring great performances by Mark Lester (Oliver, Eyewitness), Chloe Franks (Tales from the Crypt), Lionel Jeffries (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Hugh Griffith (Ben-Hur) and the great Ralph Richardson (The Fallen Idol). Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? was the follow-up to What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? and What’s the Matter with Helen?
Includes optional English subtitles
Special Features:Audio Commentary with Film Historian David Del Valle and Film Scholar Nathaniel Bell
CHANDU THE MAGICIAN (1932)
Blu-ray & DVD Street Date: August 23, 2016
Director: William Cameron Menzies, Marcel Varnel
Starring Bela Lugosi, Edmund Lowe, Irene Ware
Synopsis: Magic, mirth and mystery highlight this tale starring horror legend Bela Lugosi (Dracula, White Zombie) as an evil lunatic set on destroying mankind with a gigantic death-dealing device. Mankind’s only hope is Frank Chandler, a.k.a. Chandu The Magician (Edmund Lowe, Dinner at Eight), who calls upon mystical abilities to fight the megalomaniacal fiend. Adapted from the popular broadcast serial, this creepy classic conjures action and excitement at every turn. Co-starring Irene Ware (The Raven) – Directed by William Cameron Menzies (The Maze, Thing to Come) and Marcel Varnel (Convict 99).
Special Features:Audio Commentary by Bela Lugosi Biographer Gregory William Mank | Masters of Magic: The World of Chandu Featurette | Restoration Comparison
3 BAD MEN (1926)
Blu-ray & DVD Street Date: August 23, 2016
Director: John Ford
Starring George O’Brien, Olive Borden, Lou Tellegen
Synopsis: This classic western directed by the great John Ford (The Hurricane) stars George O’Brien (Sunrise) and a host of other greats from the silent era and beyond. When a trio of bandits discovers a young woman (Olive Borden) whose father was murdered by a ruthless gang, the “Three Bad Men” go from being partners in crime to comrades in chivalry. Willing to put their own lives on the line to protect her from a sinister sheriff (Lou Tellegen) and his deranged posse, the men prove that character isn’t always determined by which side of the law a man sits on. A grand, picturesque western, this epic stands as one of the legendary director’s finest.
Special Features:Audio Commentary by Film Historian Joseph McBride, the author of Searching For John Ford
MODESTY BLAISE (1966)
Blu-ray & DVD Street Date: August 23, 2016
Director: Joseph Losey
Starring Monica Vitti, Terence Stamp, Dirk Bogarde, Harry Andrews, Clive Revill, Alexander Knox, Rossella Falk
Synopsis: Her entire appearance changes in a finger snap. She thrashes villains without missing a spiked-heeled step. Welcome to the mad, mod world of sexy, stylish British super agent Modesty Blaise (Monica Vitti, L’Avventura, L’Eclisse). Hired by the government to prevent a diamond heist, Modesty recruits her wily sidekick Willie Garvin (Terence Stamp, The Limey) to help her battle crafty, colorful foes on the secluded island of a suave mastermind thief Gabriel (Dirk Bogarde, Death in Venice) and conniving partner Mrs. Fothergill (Rosella Falk, 8½). Grooving with mile-high hairdos and swinging, psychedelic wall patterns, Modesty Blaise is campy entertainment at its best. The great Joseph Losey (Eva, The Servant) directed this outrageous spy spoof featuring a stellar cast that includes Harry Andrews (Moby Dick), Clive Revill (Fathom) and Alexander Knox (The Vikings).
Special Features:Interview with First Assistant Director Gavrik Losey, Interviews with Screenwriter Evan Jones and assistant art director Norman Dorme, Audio Commentary by Film Historian David Del Valle and Filmmaker Armand Mastroianni
A few years back I wrote about Dear Charlotte, an indie horror game from Method to Madness Studio that was, at the time, still early enough in its development to only be represented by concept art. Still, it left a lasting impression on me, thanks in large part to some creative creature concepts designed by artist Austin Mengler, whose enormous talents I’ve featured here before.
After a lengthy silence, I assumed it had gotten lost in the inky abyss of development limbo, joining too many other promising horror games that are never given the chance to see the light of day. It’s a very good thing that that was not the case with Dear Charlotte, where a little illumination isn’t always a comfort thanks to its candle-headed antagonist.
Dear Charlotte is an episodic PC game now — maybe it always was, it’s been so long — that blends psychological terror with an unnerving mystery for players to unravel. At the core of that mystery is an unnamed protagonist and a gravel-voiced mad scientist type that absolutely cannot be trusted when an outbreak claims most of the living occupants of the Quantic Medical Research Facility.
Capcom may be taking a break from updating the older entries in their popular zombie-themed video game franchise to update the oldest entry in its other, somewhat less popular zombie-themed video game franchise because of course they are. Dead Rising has its tenth anniversary coming up later this year, we already know Capcom is super into re-releases, and it’s cheap advertising for the game’s Christmas-themed reimagining that’s expected this December on PC and Xbox One.
This is almost certainly happening, but here are some achievements for the unannounced port, if you’d like to have a look. Here’s that Dead Rising 4 trailer again, in case you’d like to spend the rest of your day with an endless loop of “Jingle Bell Rock” playing inside your head.
Okay, so this isn’t confirmed yet at all but CAA (Creative Artists Agency) is apparently pushing real hard for James Franco (127 Hours, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) to land the leading role of “Quinn McKenna” in Shane Black’s The Predator, according to PopcornTalk. The podcast stresses that this information is simply rumor at this point and should not be taken as a guarantee.
Personally, I’m having trouble seeing this one. Remember when Adrien Brody was announced as the lead of Predators and a million eyebrows collectively shot up in confusion? Yeah, this is the same thing for me.
Last month, we reported that The Predator was going to begin filming this fall in Vancouver so that it can meet its expected release date of February 9th, 2018.
Over the past few months there as been a lot of news regarding the film, from rumors and possible castings to words direct from Black’s mouth regarding his approach. All of our coverage can be found right here.
This past Friday, I got to see John Carpenter live at the Masonic Temple in Detroit. The event was absolutely incredible and a full write-up will be posted in coming days. But seeing Carpenter perform the themes to many of his films reminded me of how lucky we are to have such a robust library to pull from, thanks to his directorial efforts throughout the years.
As I watched clips from his various films, I found myself reminiscing on my thoughts and feelings of each title. From moments of sheer terror to immersive worlds and fantastic music, Carpenter truly is deserving of his nickname “The Horror Master”.
So, to honor him I thought it would be fun to do a ranked list of what you, the readers, feel to be your favorite film of his.
To make this happen, I’ve created the below list where you can both upvote and downvote films based on your own opinion. As the numbers climb, we’ll see which movies rise in the ranks and which ones are left behind.
Alright folk, get down there and get to voting!
Love is a journey and for widowed witch Elaine Parks, that journey frequently ends with a corpse. Armed with spells and love magic, Elaine gets whatever man she wants to fall head over heels with her. The problem is, none of these men turn out to be the white knight she so desperately craves.
The Love Witch is a spellbinding and hilarious homage to the erotic exploitation films of the ‘60s and ‘70s, with faux Technicolor hues and period décor and costumes to spare. Lurking beneath the gorgeous images is a rather clever exploration of female desires. Director Anna Biller – who also writes, edits, scores, and handles production design of the film – subverts the traditionally macho melodrama to deliver something incredibly shrewd that’s as funny as it is smart. It was a perfect film for the Fantasia Festival crowd.
Star Samantha Robinson melts every frame she appears in with her hypnotically seductive performance as Elaine. After her abusive husband dies of a drug overdose, Elaine is haunted by his memory. To escape, she moves to a small town and takes up residence in a beautiful gothic apartment. There she mixes her potions and paints prophetic works of art that express her desire to be loved.
Her string of failed loves (and dead bodies) drives Elaine into depression. That is until the detective investigating the dead suitors walks through her door. Elaine instantly falls for Detective Griff, played by the obscenely handsome Gian Keys. Theirs is a whirlwind love affair, but as the clues continue to pile up and point to Elaine, Griff has to choose between love and justice.
It’s really not a tough decision for him, as Griff doesn’t even believe in love. His inner dialogue is hysterical and the complete opposite of Elaine’s faith in love. While she exudes true love, he’s just interested in having an heir. In one of The Love Witch’s most gloriously ridiculous scene, Elaine and Griff stumble upon a summer solstice Renaissance faire in the woods, complete with minstrels, jesters, and period costumes galore. They revelers stage a mock wedding for Elaine and Griff, complete with a bard singing about love and its many trappings. It’s such a silly scene that fits right in to the weird, stylish pastiche Biller has created.
Shot in rich 35mm, The Love Witch looks absolutely stunning at times, particularly when the lush colors are highlighting Biller’s costumes and mise-en-scène. She uses all of this to not only create a sexy ode to the campy films of the past, but to subvert and present something that feels completely new – despite all the nods.
Alongside Robinson’s sultry performance, The Love Witch boasts of solid cast that nails the campy overacting perfectly. No one goes overboard with it, even soap opera veteran Jeffrey Vincent Parise, who plays Wayne, an English professor who falls under Elaine’s spell. He delivers some of the film’s funniest moments early on, in particular one psychedelic bit involving hallucinogenic drugs and the rainbow lining of Elaine’s coat.
Sexy, subversive, and wholly original, The Love Witch is a wonderfully comedic ode to Technicolor camp. As it sends up those films, it delves into the sexual dynamic between men and women. Or, at least, men and one seriously love hungry witch.
The film screened at the ongoing Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal.
Guillermo Del Toro received the prestigious Cheval Noir Award at Fantasia Film Festival this year and in celebration the fest held a press conference with the filmmaker (unfortunately he’s under the weather so the one-on-one interviews were cancelled, bummer). Over the course of 60 minutes, he discussed everything from his frustration over At the Mountains of Madness to one of his many works in progress, an animated Pinocchio. He covered a lot of ground he’s previously discussed at length, but it was still a joy to sit back and listen to this multifaceted, passionate artist talk.
Del Toro was also at the fest to help promote Creature Designers (read our review), the movie monster make doc he’s featured in. Like he does in the doc, Del Toro discussed at length his emotional connection to monsters, particularly Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s monster. He talked about first seeing Karloff’s monster as a life-changing moment. From Frankenstein to Godzilla, he explained that he’s attracted to stories where the monsters are the ones we connect with emotionally and the humans are the real monsters. “I don’t care about the villagers,” he stated about the Godzilla films. Other monsters he listed off as his favorites included Nosferatu, the Alien Xenomorph, and the Gillman.
He became very impassioned when talking about his fight to bring At the Mountains of Madness to the screen. He stated that if we were to see the concept art and effects tests, we would understand why he’s so brokenhearted over the project, which has been in perpetual limbo for years. Getting James Cameron on as a producer was a big win for Del Toro, but disagreements with Universal (especially about their insistence on a PG-13 rating) has stunted the project every step of the way. A $150 million R-rated horror film was just something the studio didn’t have the stones to get behind, but judging from the passion in his voice, Del Toro is not going to abandon his dream project any time soon.
In the meantime, the prolific write-director-producer has plenty on his plate to keep him busy. It seems like every other week a new film is added to his IMDB page. One of those that came up at the press conference really got my interest: Pinocchio. Del Toro confirmed that he’s co-directing/writing the animated film, which he said will follow the original novel much more closely than the Disney version. Pinocchio will be set in Italy between WWI and WWII, a period Del Toro stated is a “good time for a puppet to exist.” He compared his version of the wooden puppet to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a creation brought into the world and at the mercy of mankind’s viciousness. Del Toro is currently working on a new draft of the script.
He spoke frankly about The Strain, which begins its third season in August, saying that he wasn’t of fan of the lighting in The Master reveal scene and made sure that it was fixed for his next appearance. Even though he’s not the show runner, Del Toro’s sway on the production is evident as he has complete control over all the special effects and color correcting. He talked about the differences working on TV rather than film, stating the “dynamics are very different” and he had to “learn that very fast.”
He touched briefly upon his upcoming film The Shape of Water. There was really no new ground covered on that topic – it’s in English and a very small, personal film, stuff we already knew. Pacific Rim 2 was also brought up, with Del Toro stating he’s wanted to make The Shape of Water for years, so he took a pass on the mech sequel.
One of the more poignant moments of the conference came when Del Toro talked about the birth of his first child. “I saw the baby and I thought, I need to fight for this baby. I’m a very nice guy but if I need to defend this baby’s life, I will. And that’s the way I feel about my movies.” He elaborated more, saying that he learned a very important word in 1997 while film Mimic. That word is “no,” which he said is a powerful tool for a director. “You learn to be a motherfucker.”
It was great to hear Del Toro talk so candidly with the audience about his battles with the studio, love of monsters, and philosophy of film. “I’m not a collector, I’m a religious man,” he earnestly said. That pretty much sums up the man’s obsession with cinema right there.”
Last night kicked off the 20th anniversary of the almighty Fantasia Festival in Montreal. I’ve been lucky enough to go for the past three years and every year it gets wicked tough to decide which week to go. Not many fests have “weeks” you can pick from, but Fantasia does. It’s the third oldest genre festival in the world and day-by-day the LONGEST film festival in the world. Covering the whole thing seems impossible and I wound up picking the first week again since I’m moving at the end of the month. 20 years down the line, it’s bigger and badder than ever.
For their big 20th birthday kickoff, Fantasia opened with King Dave, a French thriller shot in one take. I really wanted to see it, but was tipped off it was playing without subtitles, so I wound up sitting that one out. It looks awesome, but my college French has faded over the past decade. Fortunately, the next movie more than made up for it: the world premiere of Kickboxer: Vengeance. For a ’90s kid, getting to see a Kickboxer film in a theater with 500 or so rowdy people was the perfect way to kick off the fest.
Van Damme returns, but not as Kurt Sloane. He plays Master Durand, a muy thai instructor who goes full Miyagi on Canadian Alain Moussi (a seasoned stuntman). Moussia stars as Eric Sloane, a top kickboxer who’s invited to fight the vicious, undefeated Tong Po, played by mixed martial artist turned actor Dave Bautista. The dude is a monster in this role and at times reminded me of Mortal Kombat’s Goro, the way he stomps around the ring. Kurt’s brother Eric takes Po on first and is killed in the process, so now Kurt’s fight turns into a path for revenge.
To prepare, he tracks down his brother’s old trainer, Master Durand. Donning a fedora and shades, JCVD hams it up to high hell from the get go. His training methods are “unconventional” (hence the Miyagi connection) and leads to a bunch of comedic moments. Much like the original film, the comedy and action isn’t always balanced well – at times Kickboxer: Vengeance seems like a straight up comedy. Despite this, the fights are truly visceral and slickly shot. Director John Stockwell (Turistas) does an excellent job modernizing the series and for fans of JCVD’s infamous dance sequence, prepare to revisit that glory.
The film played really well to the crowd and cameos by Montreal hometown fighter Georges St.-Pierre had everyone cheering. There’s much more coming from Fantasia, including a slew of horror films I’ll be checking out. Check back for more coverage out of Montreal!
If you could build a Mount Rushmore of movie monsters, what mugs would you carve into those giant stones? Would you go the classic route, heavy on the Universal icons? Or mix it up with some eighties emblems like Freddie, Mohawk the Gremlin, and the Xenomorph? If you paused and gave these hypothetical questions serious thought, high five. Also, you’re going to flip for Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex, a broad, wickedly insightful documentary that highlights the madmen behind the monsters.
From primitive stop-motion to CGI, Gilles Penso and Alexandre Poncet’s doc tracks the history of the art form – with a heavy, heavy focus on flicks from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Which is great, because that’s when the whole glorious concept of “special makeup effects” really took the off. This was the era when guys like Rick Baker, Phil Tippett, Tom Savini, Stan Winston, and Rob Bottin were, as Steve Johnson (The Abyss) puts it, ROCK STARS.
And that’s how Creature Designers treats these guys. All of them – including Johnson, Phil Tippett, Rick Bakers, Alec Gillis, and Matt Winston, who carries on his father’s legacy – get to deliver their well-spoken two cents about the art. As you can imagine, some of them take issue with the CGI revolution that started with the digital dinosaurs that overshadowed Winston’s practical ones in Jurassic Park. It’s a debate that can go on forever, so it’s great to see old school revolutionaries like Rick Baker admit that, hell, practical effects can’t do everything and combining CGI with practical effects often leads to great results. Johnson, whose ground-breaking beautiful effects in The Abyss lost an Oscar to the film’s digital effects, takes great offense of the digital revolution. “Everyone got an Oscar but me,” he explains.
One interesting topic brought up in the film is that of artist Rob Bottin, whose effects in The Thing are unmatched to this day . After the unstoppable tidal wave of CGI hit Hollywood, Bottin went into exile. He was incredibly prolific in the 80s – The Fog, RoboCop, The Howling, Legend, it goes on and on – but since then, he’s worked only sporadically and refused to be in the documentary. The participants talk about Bottin like a god and lament his exile.
Filmmakers including Del Toro and the Chiodo Brothers express their deeply rooted love of the art form and for monsters themselves. Del Toro’s emotional connection to monsters is well known, and here he expresses that love on a deep level. That commitment that borders on obsession drives the beauty and dark compulsion of Creature Designers. This doc could’ve been three hours instead of 100 minutes and it would still be engaging throughout. Hearing these masters talk about what they love is truly an amazing experience
For genre fans, there’s going to be no revelation watching the film. There’s a lot we’ve heard before and seen in countless BTS special features. But I solidly think every genre fan is going to be in Heaven, watching folks like Joe Dante, Guillermo Del Toro, Greg Nicotero, and John Landis wax poetic about the monsters they made. If there’s one thing to take away from this doc, it’s that the art of monster design is not going anywhere. Computers be damned.
The film screened at the ongoing Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal.
I can’t imagine that a being as incomprehensibly divine as SHODAN, the megalomaniacal artificial intelligence first introduced to us in the original System Shock, would approve of this impudent insect’s blasphemous attempt to honor such digital perfection, nor its strategic use of pipe cleaners. Unless SHODAN used her lengthy hiatus from video games to rethink her opinion that our very “flesh is an insult to the perfection of the digital,” then this talented cosplayer just doomed us all.
Thanks a lot, cosplayers. We waited over two decades for the opportunity to give an ambitious developer like Night Dive Studios more than $1.03M to remake System Shock, and now I’d be surprised if we get a half-assed thank you before SHODAN returns to force our extinction.
Go ahead and enjoy this cosplay by Carolina Trifoni, for it will very likely be our last chance to feel a spark of SHODAN’s infinite glory.
The last time we saw Dane Cook in a horror project was 2011’s Detention, but he’s just landed a role in a pretty big one: Starz’s upcoming “American Gods.”
Cook will portray Robbie, the best friend of main character Shadow Moon, played by Ricky Whittle. According to Deadline‘s description of him, Robbie promises to hold Shadow’s job for him while he’s in prison. Additionally, Robbie is married to Audrey, best friend to Shadow’s wife, Laura (Emily Browning), and he provides another shoulder for Laura to cry on while Shadow is away.
He joins previously announced stars Whittle (Shadow Moon), Browning (Laura Moon), Ian McShane (Mr. Wednesday), Pablo Schreiber (Mad Sweeney), Orlando Jones (Mr. Nancy), Yetide Badaki (Bilquis), Bruce Langley (Technical Boy), Crispin Glover (Mr. World), Demore Barnes (Mr. Ibis), Jonathan Tucker (Low Key Lyesmith), Gillian Anderson (Media), Peter Stormare (Czernobog), and Cloris Leachman (Zorya Vechernyaya).
“American Gods” is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed contemporary fantasy novel of the same name, which has been translated into over 30 languages and earned numerous accolades including Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker Awards for Best Novel. The plot posits a war brewing between old and new gods: the traditional gods of mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity, and drugs. Its protagonist, Shadow Moon, is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.
“American Gods” is produced by FremantleMedia North America. Bryan Fuller (“Hannibal,” “Pushing Daisies,” “Heroes”) and Michael Green (“The River,” “Kings,” “Heroes”) are writers and showrunners. David Slade (“Hannibal,” The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) is directing the pilot and additional episodes. FMNA’s Craig Cegielski and Stefanie Berk are executive producing the series along with Fuller, Green, Slade, and Neil Gaiman. Senior Vice Presidents of Original Programming Marta Fernandez and Ken Segna are the Starz executives in charge of “American Gods.” Starz retains all network pay TV and SVOD rights to the project. FremantleMedia is distributing the series worldwide.
Another Joe Dante Presents film is on its way as Terror Time is reporting that director Andy Palmer (The Funhouse Massacre) will be at the helm of the new flick, Camp Cold Brook.
“I could not be more excited to be taking on Camp Cold Brook,” says Palmer. “In addition to Alex Carl’s script being one of the scariest I’ve ever read, with great characters and frightening imagery, being able to partner with Renfield Productions and Joe Dante is a dream come true. He’s directed and produced some of my favorite films, and I look forward to not only working with him, but learning so much from him as well.”
Petri Entertainment, Busted Buggy Entertainment, and Joe Dante’s Renfield Productions will produce.
Camp Cold Brook centers around a horrific incident in 1993 when dozens of young campers, without warning, stand at attention, seemingly in a hypnotic trance, and proceed to attack not only each other but the staff as well with deadly intent. The survivors then bind their feet with rope tethered to large rocks and drag themselves into the nearby lake.
Twenty-five years later, reality TV ghost hunter Jack Wilson finds himself in a tough spot. His show, “Haunted Places,” is on the brink of being cancelled. In a last ditch effort to spark ratings to land a final season, he and his producers, as well as their trusted cameraman, choose the legend of Camp Cold Brook to try to save their show.
Their arrival begins like any other episode. Cameras are placed, and the team sets up shop in the dilapidated lodge and waits. But this is not going to be a regular episode. The terror here was real, and the 30 are about to rise.
The post Andy Palmer Heads to Camp Cold Brook for Joe Dante appeared first on Dread Central.
Director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II–IV, Repo: The Genetic Opera, Mother’s Day) is telling a highly unique horror story with his latest film Abattoir, which centers on a house that has literally been built out of rooms where horrifying tragedies have occurred. On tap right now we have a shiny new poster for you cats!
Abattoir (review) stars Jessica Lowndes, Dayton Callie, J. LaRose, Joe Anderson, and Lin Shaye. Bousman directed from a script by David Schow, Teddy Tenenbaum, and Christopher Monfette.
A real estate reporter named Julia Talben unearths an urban legend about a house being built from rooms where horrific tragedies have occurred. The investigation ultimately leads Talben and a detective to the enigmatic Jebediah Crone and the answer to the question: How do you construct a haunted house?
The post Expecting a New Abattoir Poster? Now You Have One! appeared first on Dread Central.
One of the films that made some noise at this year’s Sundance was Richard Bates, Jr.’s Trash Fire, which stars Adrian Grenier; and it was hot enough to land some distro via Vertical Entertainment, which acquired worldwide rights to the flick.
Today we finally have a poster for you!
Angela Trimbur, Fionnula Flanagan, AnnaLynne McCord, Sally Kirkland, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Ray Santiago round out the key cast. David Clark Lawson, Jr., produced with Lawrence Mattis and Matt Smith, while Makan Delrahim served as executive producer.
Bates, Jr., directed Sundance 2012 entry Excision as well as Suburban Gothic.
When Owen is forced to confront the past he’s been running from his whole adult life, he and his girlfriend, Isabel, become entangled in a horrifying web of lies, deceit, and murder. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll be scarred for life.
The Sundance horror film Trash Fire, which we stated in our review, “…will leave you shaken,” is releasing this year through Vertical Entertainment.
Trash Fire follows a man who confronts his past and becomes entangled with his wife in a web of lies, deceit and murder.”
The film was directed by Richard Bates Jr. and stars Adrien Grenier, Angela Trimbur, Fionnula Flanagan, AnnaLynne McCord, Sally Kirkland, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Ray Santiago.
“When Owen is forced to confront the past he’s been running from his whole adult life, he and his girlfriend, Isabel, become entangled in a horrifying web of lies, deceit, and murder. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll be scarred for life.”
It’s Friday and this week has been hellaciously hot. Since my A/C is broken, my place has been, on average, 85-87 degrees fahrenheit, leaving me to slowly cook from the inside out. And since I’m sitting here suffering in this unbearable heat, I want to give you a little taste of that using this edition of Twisted Music Video of the Week.
Enter Firespawn and their video for “All Hail”, which plays out almost like The Book of Eli meets Fallout 3 with a dash of cult worshippers. It’s all set in a post-apocalyptic world that looks like it’s been scorched by countless waves of flames (basically what my place currently feels like).
Check it out below and have yourself a great weekend!
We haven’t heard ANYTHING about the proposed “Friday the 13th” TV show to air on The CW for a while now. In fact, it’s been ages! The good citizens of Crystal Lake over at the Friday the 13th Franchise website, however, have dug up this little tidbit from “a source“:
“The show has been shelved with a revisit planned for some time close to April 2017. At that point it will be determined by CW if they can find a story to warrant a series order. If they opt to not go with Friday The 13th at all then the show is open for a different avenue of release. Netflix has long been requested by fans as a destination that would hopefully limit the amount of studio interference.”
Stay tuned. In the interim check out these 25 Possible Friday the 13th TV Series Scenarios!