Alex Aja’s (Horns, The Hills Have Eyes, Mirrors, Piranha, High Tension) latest supernatural thriller, The 9th Life of Louis Drax, starring Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey, The Fall), Aaron Paul (Last House On the Left, Breaking Bad, Need for Speed, Triple Nine) and Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold, The Amazing Spider-man 2) is set for release on September 2, 2016 through Summit Entertainment (limited release).
Starring Fifty Shades of Grey‘s Jamie Dornan, Lionsgate has just released the film’s first poster that promises a mystery beyond reality.
“After surviving eight near-death accidents throughout his unlucky life, Louis Drax [Aiden Longworth] plunges off a steep cliff on his ninth birthday. While police investigate the cause of Louis’ near-fatal fall and the whereabouts of his violent father Peter [Aaron Paul], acclaimed neurologist Dr. Allan Pascal [Jamie Dornan] uses unorthodox techniques to try to tap into the boy’s unconscious mind and reveal the truth about the events that led to his condition. But as he’s drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery of Louis’ seeming ability to cheat death, the doctor finds himself falling for Louis’ mother, Natalie [Sarah Gadon]. As new clues emerge in the case, a shocking revelation changes the fates of Louis Drax and everyone around him.”
Joining Dornan, Paul and Gadon in supporting roles are Oliver Platt (X-Men: First Class, Chef, Frost/Nixon) playing Louis Drax’s psychologist, Dr. Perez; Molly Parker (House of Cards, The Road) as Detective Dalton; Barbara Hershey (Black Swan, Falling Down) who will play Violet, Louis’ grandmother; and Aiden Longworth (Hector and the Search for Happiness, A Christmas Story 2) in the title role of Louis Drax.
Movie sequels of any genre are generally difficult to write, but that’s especially the case with horror. In the original film, a group of characters found themselves in some crazy, life-threatening situation, and by the end, one or two were somehow able to make it out alive. They are probably lead to safety by the time the credits roll, and that’s about it. There’s nothing left open, and the scenario was so preposterous that it’s unlikely the survivors would ever encounter it again. Yet by returning to theaters for a sequel, audiences are clearly hoping for more of the same, so how the hell does a filmmaker set that in motion?
Though it verges into science-fiction territory, the original Alien has quite a bit in common with horror, in particular when it comes to the third act. Ripley, our final girl, escapes the terror of the Xenomorph, defeats it, and emerges victorious. She goes into stasis as the ship apparently heads home, and that’s all, folks. We don’t leave feeling we need to have the story continued, and once Ripley makes it back to Earth, we would assume she’d retire to an island somewhere and never set foot in space again.
This presents James Cameron with a tremendous problem as he begins work on a sequel. Audiences obviously want Ripley back, as Sigourney Weaver was a significant reason the first movie was so great, and they clearly want her to kick some more Xenomorph ass. Imagine for a moment that Aliens does not exist and you’re in Cameron’s shoes in the early 1980s trying to figure out a way to extend Ridley Scott’s storyline. What do you do?
The dilemma is quite frequently seen in horror, a genre in which sequels are as common as dirt, but Cameron’s solution demonstrates exactly why he’s a master filmmaker and why Aliens is a perfect sequel, whereas other similar part-twos are relegated to the straight-to-DVD bin. In fact, his movie provides a blueprint for modern horror directors attempting to write sequels to seemingly sequel-proof movies.
Aliens opens with Ripley floating in space just where we left her before she is rescued and taken aboard a Weyland-Yutani Corporation ship. Instantly, Cameron decides to show some of the consequences of Ripley’s victory at the end of Alien, revealing that it wasn’t exactly a riding-off-into-the-sunset type deal. Aboard the ship, Ripley receives a shock when she is told that she has been in hypersleep for quite a bit longer than expected: 57 years. Not only that, but she is suffering from severe PTSD as a result of her experience with the Xenomorph, having a horrifying dream of one of the creatures bursting out of her chest. Right away we see that she may have killed the alien, but that doesn’t mean she got away scot-free.
Moments later, we pick up with Ripley sitting on a bench looking out into the forest longingly. As the camera pans, it is revealed that this lush environment was merely part of a computer screen, and immediately Ripley is torn from her dreamlike state and pulled back into the harsh reality from which she has not escaped quite yet. We can feel her eagerness to return home and let her wounds finally heal, which makes the decision to come in a few moments all the more taxing.
Burke arrives and informs Ripley that her daughter, Amanda, who was 11 years old when Ripley left Earth, died at the age of 66 while Ripley was in hypersleep. When Ripley left for her original mission, she had never considered the possibility of not being there for Amanda’s entire life, but now, she holds in her hand a photo of her daughter as an old woman, reflecting on all the time she missed as a direct result of the Xenomorph attack. “I promised her that I would be home for her birthday,” Ripley finally lets out, and in one line, Cameron hits us with the same gut punch Christopher Nolan would later utilize in Interstellar. Ripley was concerned about missing one of Amanda’s birthdays, but now, she has missed them all. (This happens in the extended edition, at least, and it’s quite baffling that this detail was left out of the original cut.)
She is soon told that LV-426, the planet on which the Nostromo first encountered their Xenomorph, is now home to a colony of humans including many kids. Ripley is clearly haunted by the fact that she was not able to be there for Amanda, who she abandoned and let slip away. But now, being the only person who fully understands the threat posed by the Xenomorphs, she has the chance to save other young girls and boys, doing for them what she couldn’t do for her own child. This, in combination with the fact that she is being continuously haunted by the Xenomorphs and feels she must finish what she started, inspires Ripley to reluctantly travel to LV-426.
It obviously is not an easy choice for her to make. When Burke first brings up the idea, she is understandably dismissive, just as audiences may have been dismissive of the idea of producing a sequel to Alien and forcing Ripley to go through even more terror. But in these masterful opening minutes, Cameron gets across the profound loss Ripley has suffered, the pain she continues to experience, and the fact that she now has little left tying her to Earth anyway. He has convinced us that this movie was worth making, something few horror sequels actually bother doing.
Cameron could have easily come up with some phony scenario in which Ripley would have no choice but to fight more Xenomorphs; perhaps her ship crashes onto LV-426 and she must fight her way to freedom. But by rooting the thrust of Aliens in Ripley’s character and giving her a choice of whether to run or to fight, everything that happens in the ensuing hours means so much more, and we truly care about her making it out alive again. If the scenario was not believable, and if Ripley had no new conflict to overcome, we would tune out. Here, the drama is rooted in the main character’s desires, giving her both a physical problem – fighting the Xenomorphs – and a non-physical problem – learning to accept the loss of her daughter.
Later in the movie, Ripley forms a connection with a little girl named Newt, who clearly reminds her of Amanda. In Newt, Ripley sees an opportunity to connect with and save someone in the way she previously failed to do, and so Ripley’s journey in the movie is completely distinct from her journey in the original Alien. She is not merely helping a bunch of random civilians out of the goodness of her heart; she’s also coping with her grief and learning to love again, both to love Newt and to love herself, which makes Aliens a fresh emotional arc for Ripley. Compare this to the vast majority of horror sequels, where the character’s storyline is merely repeated a second time and little new ground is covered.
Take the scene where Ripley and Newt share a conversation and Ripley opens up about the fact that she used to have a daughter. She says to Newt, “I’m not gonna leave you Newt. I mean that. That’s a promise.” We can imagine how hard these words are for Ripley to get out, given her anger at herself for leaving Amanda and not fulfilling her promise to be back for her birthday. From here on out, after Ripley makes her promise to Newt, even more important than Ripley’s own survival is her ability to ensure Newt’s safety.
And that’s why Cameron so brilliantly makes the final setpiece not about the safety of Ripley – which would be a retread of Alien – but about the safety of Newt. When Newt has been snatched away by the Xenomorph, the rest of the crew believes that trying to rescue her is a lost cause, but Ripley can’t live with herself if she abandons another young girl. She has to do this. “She’s alive,” Ripley says. “There’s still time.” Being out of time is exactly what ripped Amanda away from her, but she won’t let that happen again.
Compare all of this complexity to other sequels involving a character who previously escaped a deadly environment returning for more. In Jurassic Park III, which is essentially a slasher film with dinosaurs, the screenwriters must figure out a way that Alan Grant would go back to Isla Nublar, even though it was pretty clear by the end of Jurassic Park that there is no way in hell he would ever do so. If Joe Johnston were to take a similar approach as James Cameron did with Aliens, he would give Alan Grant some sort of unfinished business and a desire that is tied up with the adventure so that traveling back to Jurassic Park is necessary in completing his character’s journey.
Is that what happens? Nope. The way that Johnston sets the pieces back in play is hilariously lazy. Alan Grant is approached about returning to Isla Nublar, and he says no. But then he’s offered a lot of money, so he says yes. That’s basically it. He is assured the plane he’s on will only fly above the island, but then in an unexpected turn of events that Grant should have totally expected, he wakes up on Isla Sorna like the dudes in The Hangover II, going through the exact same adventure again for some stupid reason.
It’s so clear how unneeded the whole story is. Alan Grant’s arc was complete in Jurassic Park, and this follow-up does nothing to convince us he has more work to do. Johnston simply throws Grant back on the island, and when Grant flies away in a helicopter for the second time at the conclusion of the movie, we don’t feel as if he’s a substantially different person than when we left him in Jurassic Park. All of this happened because Universal wanted to make some money off a sequel.
The same is true of The Descent Part II. Sarah has escaped the cave, but Jon Harris needs to get her back in for this sequel, and so the characters essentially drag her back in kicking in screaming. The journey does not involve her making any sort of decision, and there’s no unfinished business or justification for why we’re doing all of this again. It’s the problem so many horror films run into unless they focus on an entirely new set of characters. It’s not merely about finding a way to literally continue the plot; it’s about getting around the fact that the character’s arc was already resolved, and so now they must be given another one that is totally distinct. James Cameron does this with Aliens, but with horror sequels, barely anyone else bothers.
Much attention is paid to the fact that Aliens shifts genres a bit, going in the direction of action-adventure while the first film was focused on horror. That’s true, but it’s not the real brilliance of the picture. The reason it’s so great is that James Cameron takes a movie that clearly did not need a sequel and, by the end, makes us feel that a sequel was in fact incredibly necessary.
As the film closes, Ripley flies away from LV-426 with a much greater sense of accomplishment. While last time around she simply escaped an alien attack but felt a lingering sense of unfinished business, this time, she went back in on her own volition, stood up to these creatures that have been plaguing her nightmares, and declared that she is not afraid. She holds Newt in her arms, learning to trust herself with another life again, and Newt tells Ripley, “I knew you’d come back.” After the tremendous guilt of having gone off to space and having left her child, Newt has filled a void in Ripley’s life that she thought would forever remain vacant.
In short, Aliens works because Cameron understands that audiences will roll their eyes if a sequel is based on some phony plot where the lead character is to thrust back into the identical situation for no discernible reason. The film must give its protagonist the decision of whether to run back into danger, and it should present them with a brand new problem that has arisen as a direct result of the previous movie’s climax. Aliens solves the classic dilemma of figuring out how to return a main character to deadly circumstances while keeping the audience on board, and for that reason, it may be the perfect horror sequel.
“This movie makes no sense,” said director/co-writer Jeff Maher about his new film Bed of the Dead. But as star Alysa King elaborated during the cast/crew Q&A, if you can accept a bed that judges people’s sins and dishes out harsh punishment, then you can accept anything. It’s true. You can’t nitpick with a movie like Bed of the Dead, man, it saps all the fun out of it. And Bed of the Dead is one helluva good time.
The film had its world premiere at the Fantasia Festival last night and boy howdy was it the perfect choice for a midnight movie. It’s loaded with dreamlike horror, buckets of blood, and a twisting plot that jumps back and forth through time with glee. It also happens to feature one of the gnarliest monsters I’ve seen in some time.
Ren (Dennis Andres) has a special request for his birthday. He wants to have a foursome with his girlfriend Sandy (King) and their friends Nancy (Gwenlyn Cumyn) and Fred (George Krissa). Sandy begrudgingly agrees and the group goes to a dodgy sex club to make Ren’s orgy dream come true. The rooms are all booked up, so the couples bribe their way into a room currently being “renovated.” This room is home to the “emperor size” titular bed, which was carved from a cursed tree a lot of men hung from centuries before.
The orgy is a bust and the couples soon realize there’s something very wrong with the bed. The big clue is that one of them is sucked beneath it and eviscerated. That’s always a dead giveaway right there. The bed begins to prey upon the group’s darkest secrets and fears – spawning nightmarish hallucinations and gruesome kills. The monster I mentioned earlier is a simple looking effect on the surface, but the result is wicked. The easiest way to explain it is that it’s a bed sheet monster, made up of blood, linen, and pure nightmare fuel. It had my jaw on the floor.
Sandy and her friends figure out that they can’t leave the bed. If they do, they die a horrible, custom-made death. But they can’t stay on it either, just ask the disemboweled corpse on the ceiling that rained blood down on the girls. As they try to figure out how to beat the bed’s curse, disturbed cop Virgil (Colin Price) is investigating the group’s death a couple hours in the future. That’s where Bed of the Dead plays with its own timeline. If Sandy and the group are all dead, how is he talking with Sandy on the phone? How is he able to communicate with this very, very dead girl?
Maher (cinematographer of Bite and Antisocial) and writer Cody Calahan (Antisocial, The Drownsman) throw a lot of solid little twists in their screenplay. I went in completely blind so I wasn’t expecting this, making every curveball a nice surprise. There’s also a sturdy police procedural element to the film that may not be as engaging as the bedridden carnage, but still adds a nice dimension to what could’ve just been a straightforward kill count movie. Virgil’s backstory gradually weaves into the story of Sandy in a way that doesn’t feel forced or tossed in for the hell of it. This all leads up to a finale that’s pretty damn shocking.
The monster under the bed will always be scary and here it’s the entire bed that’s the monster. What a simple, but oh so rad concept. My first knee-jerk reaction was that it would be a rip off the 1977 underground classic Death Bed: The Bed That Eats, but as Maher explained, their bed is a much different monster and he actually got the blessing of Death Bed’s director George Barry.
The crew announced during the Q&A last night that Bed of the Dead has found distribution in its home turf of Canada, so USA distribution probably isn’t far behind. Sweet dreams!
The film screened at the ongoing Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal.
In honor of its 30th anniversary, Mondo has announced that they will be selling a limited edition 10″ vinyl of the Castlevania soundtrack, which was composed by Konami Kukeiha Club.
The grey/red half-half split heavy-weight vinyl is limited to 1,000 copies and features original artwork by Becky Cloonan, which can be seen below.
This is the first soundtrack to come from the Mondo/Konami partnership, which was announced earlier this year. There will also eventually be vinyl releases for the Contra and Silent Hill franchises, although no confirmed date for that has been set.
Sony/Columbia Pictures’ Ghostbusters reboot is incredibly interesting to me on so many levels.
The saying “all press is good press” was truly put to the test with Paul Feig’s remake, which has been under attack by (mostly) misogynistic superfans since the first trailer dropped (it’s been reported as among the most disliked of all time). Sony movie studio chief Tom Rothman told THR that the controversy is “the greatest thing that ever happened,” adding, “Are you kidding me? We’re in the national debate, thank you. Can we please get some more haters to say stupid things?”
Yes, Ghostbusters chatter has been everywhere, but did it translate into box office gold? It depends on how you look at it, although it’s being reported that Ghostbusters lost out to The Secret Life of Pets and pulled in an estimated $46 million. This isn’t surprising at all, though, as early projections placed it within that range. In fact, I reported that the franchise was in serious trouble weeks before release, which has now been substantiated in a report on Variety that goes through a similar mathematical breakdown as I did.
The film carries a massive $144 million price tag, plus at least $100 million more in marketing costs. Insiders estimate that it will have to do at least $300 million globally to break even and substantially more than that to justify a sequel.
I’m always surprised when I read site’s report on box office with zero understanding of the basic cost breakdown. First, a portion of the box office GROSS goes to the theaters, as much as 50% (I am unclear of the exact breakdown). This mean that, if Ghostbusters makes $150 million here in the States, Sony probably only netted $75 million. As reported above, the cost to shoot and market exceeds $250 million. $75 million makes Ghostbusters a HUGE bust. International needs to be killer, like with Terminator: Genysis, in order for Sony to positively move forward with a sequel.
But here’s why Ghostbusters is such an interesting experiment. Outside of the executives at Sony, and maybe even Paul Feig, nobody knows what the long game is. If you look at Disney’s acquisitions of Star Wars and Marvel properties, it not about making movies, it’s about making movies to sell merchandise. (It’s similar to how Disney started making movies based on their theme park attractions to get people to go back to the parks.) Ghostbusters represents a merchandising goldmine…unless of course the consumer doesn’t want anything. Early reports indicated that many major retailers – from Target to Walmart – began discounting the Ghostbusters products weeks before the film’s release. Ecto Cooler, on the other hand, is still incredibly hard to find. I’ve been keeping tabs on the merch (on Amazon and Ebay, and through visits to retailers), and after the film’s release this past Friday, product is becoming scarce. This could mean renewed popularity, which could slowly help Ghostbusters climb out of a hole.
Still, only executives at Sony know the long game. And they continue to boast exuberance and extreme confidence in their franchise:
“The ‘Ghostbusters’ world is alive and well,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution at the studio. “I expect ‘Ghostbusters’ to become an important brand and franchise,” he told TheWrap on Sunday.
“While nothing has been officially announced yet, there’s no doubt in my mind it will happen,” he added.
As one of my colleague’s pointed out, Sony responded the same way when The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo failed to light the box office on fire, although that franchise is nowhere near that of Ghostbusters. With that said, the statement feels like nothing more than reassuring stockholders that their investments are safe.
No matter, it’s hard to stand on our side of the conversation and know exactly what Sony’s plans are. I mean, we don’t even know how the reboot impacted the first two films’ home video numbers, nor do we know how the merchandising deals were set up and how they impact Sony’s numbers. If there were one franchise that could survive a lukewarm opening, it’s that of Ghostbusters.
Feig‘s female-led reboot starring Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon wasn’t a critic smash by any means, but it’s receiving a tremendous amount of support and there are those who loved it (I thought it was absolutely hysterical and preserved the spirit of the original). Could strong word of mouth and positive buzz change the course of the film and prevent it from a massive drop next weekend?
There’s a lot at stake here, and I’m really curious to see how things unfold in the coming weeks. But mostly I want to know what you guys thought of the film? What would you like to see if Sony were to continue forth with the franchise?
Season one of SyFy’s hit show “The Magicians” will be hitting Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD tomorrow, July 19th, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. In order to celebrate that release Universal has provided Bloody Disgusting with an exclusive look at the behind-the-scenes feature included on the home video releases. In this 90-second clip series creators Sera Gamble and Josh McNamara discuss where the magic within the characters of The Magicians comes from. It’s a short clip, but provides a very interesting look at where the show is coming from and what the purpose of the magic within the show is.
BLU-RAY and DVD BONUS FEATURES:
-The World of “The Magicians”
The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes a Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD with UltraViolet
•Blu-ray unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6x the picture resolution of DVD, exclusive extras and theater-quality surround sound.
•DVD offers the flexibility and convenience of playing movies in more places, both at home and away.
•DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet lets you watch movies anywhere, on any device. Users can instantly stream or download movies to watch on iPad, iPhone, Android™, smart TVs, connected Blu-ray players, game consoles and more.
The dynamic between cops and the criminals they hunt has been explored to death in cinema. They’re always brooding over how one half completes the other and how cops have to become monsters themselves to catch a killer. You know the drill. But it’s been a while since I’ve seen the drill as dark and hostile as Anurag Kashyap’s Psycho Raman, which had its Quebec premiere at the 2016 Fantasia Festival.
Set in the darkest alleys of modern day Mumbai, Psycho Raman is a blitzkrieg assault on the senses. Pulsing music, sharp photography, line upon line of cocaine, and a powerfully evil performance from star Nawazuddin Siddiqui make this a uniquely ferocious serial killer thriller.
One night early in his serial killing career, Raman (Siddiqui) is interrupted by a corrupt cop who’s come looking for some blow. Hiding in the shadows, Raman is pleasantly surprised to see the cop, Raghav (Vicky Kaushal), coldly finish the job he started. In Raghav, Raman sees not just a cold-blooded kindred spirit, but his actual soul mate. And he feels very strongly about it.
While Raghav investigates Raman’s trail of bodies, Raman is in turn watching him – stalking Raghav and his beautiful girlfriend Simmy (Sobhita Dhulipala). Raman acts as “God’s CCTV” – looking into windows, lurking on rooftops, lingering outside the police station with his trusty iron rod in tow.
The story behind what shaped Raman into a monster is hinted at during the film’s first “chapter” (there are seven in all). Raman travels to his sister’s apartment, where he brutalizes her family and makes allusions to the abuse he inflicted on his family as a youth, growing up poor with little opportunities. We also get a glimpse into Raghav’s upbringing, which had the shine of the privileged upper class. He even refers to his overbearing father as “his holiness.”
These social dynamics and the adults they produce are examined in the film without being heavy handed. Raman can see that despite his privileged upbringing, deep down inside Raghav is more of a monster than he is, and Raman does his worst to get the dirty cop to reveal his dark side.
It’s pretty awesome watching Raman lurk about the streets, alleys, and rooftops (and in one wicked scene, the sewers) of Mumbai in almost an invincible manner. He has a distinctive scar on his face and carries a giant iron rod – so he shouldn’t be the most difficult man to catch, but Raghav is too tied up with his own corrupt world to do much apprehending.
The scenes they share together are wildly tense. Coked up Raghav is a powder keg and Raman is the cool, wide-eyed psycho thing going on that’s uncomfortably funny at times. I wouldn’t say Raman is more empathetic than Raghav – both men are horrendous monsters. But there seems to be more of a method to Raman’s madness, while Raghav is just an unhinged wild card.
Along with the anxious murder scenes, Kashyap has a few chase scenes that utilize the labyrinthine layout of Mumbai’s slums. The camera follows the action through narrow alleys, up ladders, down passages, and into homes, creating a palpable portrait of poverty. One standout scene involves Raghav racing up through a building to find a drug connect on the top floor. He zips through tight spaces, sweat shops, and stairwells – all shot with a kinetic energy that leaves your head spinning.
For all of the quick cuts and propulsive drive in the film, it could’ve used some sharpening up in that first chapter I mentioned. It drags on forever, leading up to an inhuman act of violence we see coming a long time before it actually happens.
That’s a small grumble though for Psycho Raman’s 2 hours and 10 minutes run time. If you only think of Bollywood when you think of Indian film, Psycho Raman will knock some sense into you, as it stands up with the grittiest American serial killer thrillers.
The film screened at the ongoing Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal.
Many of you know that I’m a huge fan of progressive rock/metal band Opeth, a group I’ve been listening to for nearly 15 years. So, you can imagine my excitement when the announcement came earlier this summer that the band would be releasing their 12th studio album Sorceress this fall.
Today, the band has released the cover art for their upcoming release and it’s pretty fucking incredible. Once again, their work was created by Travis Smith, the man behind such groups as Katatonia, Anathema, Bloodbath, Devin Townsend, Nevermore, and a slew of others. You can see the art below.
Sorceress will be released on September 30th.
Frontman Mikael Akerfeldt explains:
The new album ”Sorceress” is our 12th studio album since our beginnings in 1990. I find it difficult to understand that we’ve been going on for 26 years, let alone that we’ve made 12 records now, all of which I am very proud of. ”Sorceress” is no exception. I love this album, as does the whole band. I wrote the music during 5-6 months and we spent only 12 days recording it at Rockfield studios in Wales. I find that once again we’ve taken a step forward. Or sideways, Or backwards. Somewhere!? It’s different! It’s extremely diverse. And if I may say so myself, extremely good. I feel the right to say that since I like to think I know this band better than anyone on the planet. Also, I always manage to detach myself from the record and listen as a fan. It’s a fine little record. My favorite in our discography right now. Of course. That’s how it should be, right? It’s both fresh and old, both progressive and rehashed. Heavy and calm. Just the way we like it. Hopefully there’ll be others around the globe sharing this opinion. It was a joy to make it. A fucking joy to record it, and a sheer joy listening to it. So there you have it!
Sorceress track list:
3. The Wilde Flowers
4. Will O The Wisp
6. Sorceress 2
7. The Seventh Sojourn
8. Strange Brew
9. A Fleeting Glance
11. Persephone (Slight Return)
Sep 24 – San Bernardino, CA – Ozzfest/Knotfest @ San Manual Amphitheater
Sep 29 – Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
Sep 30 – Silver Spring, MD – Fillmore
Oct 1 – New York, NY – Radio City Music Hall
Oct 2 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
Oct 4 – Montreal, QC – Metropolis
Oct 5 – Toronto, ON – Massey Hall
Oct 7 – Detroit, MI – Fillmore
Oct 8 – Akron, OH – Good Year Theater at East End
Oct 9 – Chicago, IL – Riviera Theater
Oct 10 – Minneapolis, MN – First Ave
Oct 12 – Oklahoma City, OK – Diamond Ballroom
Oct 13 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
Oct 14 – Austin, TX – Emo’s
Oct 15 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Live
Oct 18 – Las Vegas, NV – Brooklyn Bowl
Oct 19 – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theater
Oct 21 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
Oct 22 – San Francisco, CA – Warfield
Oct 24 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
Oct 25 – Seattle, WA – Moore Theater
Oct 26 – Vancouver, BC – Orpheum
Last week, Spike released a massive casting announcement for their upcoming novel-to-TV adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Mist“, revealing eight of the actors that would appear on the show. This came after it was announced that Alyssa Sutherland (“Vikings”) would also be a part of the series. Today comes the news that Morgan Spector (“Boardwalk Empire”) has landed the role of “Kevin Copeland”, the protagonist of the series.
Per the official press release, “Kevin is the epitome of the modern, liberal and civilized man; devoted to his wife and teenaged daughter. He lives his life by high moral values and throughout his life he has refused to give into the anger and prejudice he sees in other people. However, with the arrival of the mist, his moral compass will be put to the test for his and his family’s survival.”
The show, “…tells the story of a foreboding mist that arrives in one small town ushering in a terrifying new reality for its residents, putting their humanity to the test. What will people do to survive when blinded by fear?”
Spike will be creating 10 one-hour episodes with plans to go into production later this summer. The show is scheduled to premiere in 2017.
HA! “Sighting”, “Hunted”, and “Underground” are the names of the promos! I’m clever!!!
Okay, now that we’re all done laughing at me, let’s get to the point of this post. A new trio of promo clips for FX’s “The Strain” have been released and although they’re each only 10 seconds long (with the last 5 seconds reserved for the title and premiere date), they still manage to show off some exciting footage.
Keep your eyes peeled to FX as the third season returns to FX on August 28th.
The transformation has begun.
It can no longer be denied — New York City is rapidly falling to an evil epidemic, and no one is coming to its rescue. Its citizens must fight or die.
Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his unlikely allies tried to take down the embodiment of this evil — the Master — and failed. Now Eph and Dr. Nora Martinez concentrate on creating a biological weapon to wipe out the creatures, while Abraham Setrakian searches for an ancient book he hopes will reveal the strigoi’s entire history…and possibly a way to kill them. Meanwhile, the Master is out for revenge, unleashing new and even more terrifying breeds of bloodthirsty creatures. They need to find a way to defeat him before the infection spreads too far and becomes irreparable…before they become monsters themselves.
The ensemble cast stars Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Kevin Durand, Jonathan Hyde, Richard Sammel, Natalie Brown, Miguel Gomez, Max Charles, Ruta Gedmintas, Rupert Penry-Jones, Samantha Mathis and Joaquín Cosío.
“The Strain” hails from Showrunner/Executive Producer/Director/Writer Carlton Cuse along with Co-Creators/Executive Producers/Writers Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Gary Ungar, J. Miles Dale, Bradley Thompson, David Weddle and Regina Corrado also serve as Executive Producers. The Strain is produced by FX Productions.
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.”