Friday, December 30, 2005

The Reaping

This one sounds promising. Any film that includes "biblical plagues" is okay in my book:
"Two brand new official pics from Warner Bros. upcoming horror film The Reaping, which stars Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Idris Elba, Annasophia Robb and William Ragsdale. In ‘The Reaping’, Hilary Swank plays a former Christian missionary who lost her faith after her family was tragically killed, and has since become a world-renowned expert in disproving religious phenomena. But when she investigates a small Louisiana town that is suffering from what appear to be the Biblical plagues, she realizes that science cannot explain what is happening and she must regain her faith to combat dark forces threatening the community..."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

First Wicker Man set photos!

This little blurb comes from Moviesonline:

"Director Neil LaBute's "The Wicker Man", is a remake of Robin Hardy's 1973 thriller. LaBute directs the movie for which he also has written the adaptation for. The story follows a sheriff investigating the disappearance of a young girl on a remote island off the coast of Maine. His hopes of unraveling the girl's disappearance become increasingly uncertain when he discovers evidence of pagan rituals."

"Resident Evil: Afterlife"

I still haven't seen the second one but I recall Octopunk hating it. Looks like a third is on deck:

"Bloody Disgusting recently reiterated expected news that Sienna Guillory is set to reprise her role as Jill Valentine and leading lady Milla Jovovich will once again play Alice in Sony Screen Gems' "Resident Evil: Afterlife". The pair join Mike Epps who confirmed a few weeks back that he would return during an interview.

What's new in the story is that Leon Kennedy and Wekser (characters from the game) look to be appearing in the film and that shocking enough - Paul W.S. Anderson is tapped to direct once again, off a script he is currently writing. The rumour comes as a surprise considering Anderson is already linked with three other projects right now including the vidgame adaptation "Castlevania", the remake "Deathrace 3000" and the nuclear action thriller "Man with the Football".

In any case, 'Afterlife' is now aiming at a 2007 release."

Friday, December 16, 2005

King Kong

Before Star Wars came out, I was given a book of cover illustrations for early 20th century sci-fi pulps, Amazing Stories and the like. This book fascinated me beyond anything I had at that point, these 50-year-old paintings of impossible skyscrapers, weird machines and life on Neptune. Here’s a gallery of Frank R. Paul, the most famous of those artists, to let you know what I mean. When I think back to my own nascent imagination at that time, I figure it was mostly about that book, plus my knowledge that there were dinosaurs once.

I still have an affinity for that early 20th century sci-fi fantasy vibe, so magnificently fleshed out by The Fifth Element and the Coruscant scenes from Star Wars. And now King Kong. Jack Black calls Skull Island “the last place off the maps,” and that’s just the kind of energy this old stuff has. I imagine the readers in the 30’s thought of these places as somewhere you could really go, if you had the right spirit. I imagine that, for them, the spires of New York were those impossible skyscrapers.

Picture this thing that we’re all chasing, us nerds. These stories of outer space, the supernatural, monsters and robots. These movies, toys, comic books, cartoons, beloved TV shows – all this stuff that forms the dragon tail we’re clinging to, trying to recapture the thrill of new toys on Christmas morning or the delight of settling down on the floor with a big pad and a fistful of magic markers. That. That thing. The place where your mind goes when it wanders. Peter Jackson gives you that place with this movie. He busts through the thick ice of time, reality and half-assed attempts and draws out the pure, glowing elixir of everything you want.

The Skull Island that Jackson gives us is a place of dreams. Dreams that eat you. Compared to Skull Island, the jungles of Jurassic Park are drab, technical and real. Here, every shot is lush and dramatic. The sense of the place as Wild is palpable like a panic attack. The danger is relentless and everywhere (one of my favorite scenes is of a pursuing dinosaur that is still chewing on its last kill as it runs). There are overgrown structures all over the place, speaking of unfathomable history, but now its human denizens cling to the outside of the ancient wall like scuttling crabs, quite literally stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. Skull Island was handed over to the inmates a long, long time ago. You just gotta see it.

Of course, none of this would work if the story and characters didn’t work, but we’re in luck. In my excitement about this movie’s release, I somehow forgot to think about Kong as a character, as a personality. That’s why he’s the world’s favorite monster (screw you, Godzilla) –- people love him. The best way I can sum up their success in making that work is: he's the main character of this movie. And amazingly, this movie is a love story, and one of the purest I’ve seen. By the time they’re in New York, all Kong and Ann want is to be with each other, even though they never have anything to look forward to, or any idea about what to do. Ann becomes as lost as Kong, and Naomi Watts sells the two of them so well I never questioned it at all. I loved him, too.

There’s a ton of other stuff I could say, with a movie this dense. Other characters and themes and things to see. But that's what hit me, and hit me hard. I'll wrap with a few bullet points:

The lamest part of any story with a weird, monster-filled island is when the natives show up. Here you’ve got monsters to see and now we’re supposed to get interested in spears and such. Not so in this movie. For one thing, you see the natives before you see the monsters. For another, the natives are fucking creepy. Brrr.

Thankfully, there isn’t one second of screen time about going back to NYC.

Last one’s a teeny spoiler.

This one.

Coming up.

There isn’t a hint of this in any trailer I’ve seen, but Kong doesn’t fight just one T-rex. He fights three. Yeah.

A disappointing start for King Kong is reporting the following,
"Whilst it shattered industry records in many foreign territories for its opening day, Universal Pictures' "King Kong" took in just $9.8 million in its debut on the domestic front despite strong critical praise and very heavy promotion.

The Peter Jackson directed epic was not surprisingly ranked No. 1 in every market it opened in, whilst $9.8 million is nothing to be shy about. Nevertheless among Wednesday openers that places it a disappointing 21st on the list. It has raised a few eyebrows when compared to other titles like the less enthusiastically received "War of the Worlds" with which took $21.3 million or the less promoted "Batman Begins" which scored $15.1 million on their opening Wednesdays this year. The first of Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" films, the weakest opener in the series, still managed twice that amount on its opening Wednesday.

Just as curious, but in a different way is the tone of reviews. The film has scored amongst the best reviews of the year, yet reaction is surprisingly sharply divided upon closer examination. Some of the older more stalwart critics who've been doing the job for years in major print publications have emphatically embraced the picture, a surprise considering they're usually the first who don't normally click to mainstream blockbuster fantasies. On the filpside a lot of major online critics, people who sometimes get dismissed for being far too kind to films of this type, have been quite mixed or only mildly positive. Complaints also run along the same lines, the most common citing the film's bloated length with sequences far too drawn out and/or pandering to "Jackson's self indulgence".

How the film will fare this weekend remains to be seen, though the soft Wednesday does ensure this beast won't be smashing much in the way of records or "saving the box-office" as pundits were hoping. Nevertheless good word of mouth should ensure healthy business through the holiday season."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Kong Likes Blondes

Oh. My. God. I just got back from seeing King Kong and I'm so completely blown away I don't even know what to write. There's sooooo so so much that isn't even hinted at in the trailers. Astounding. Go see it. It's like the most satisfying slice of adventure cake you ever had. With ice cream.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Trailer for House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim

Nudity and gore galore - go here to see the new trailer.

Here's a blurb about if from November 2004, "Director Mike Hurst will helm and write a sequel to House of the Dead by Uwe Boll. The original, which was based on the best-selling video game from Sega, tells the story of a group of college students who go to a rave on a mysterious island and get more than they bargained for when they find themselves stalked by killer zombies and terrifying creatures intent on feasting on the flesh of the living. With only a few weapons and time running out, they take shelter in an ancient house, inside which they will uncover the secrets of the "House of the Dead"."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Watch the first 8 minutes of Marebito!

I posted a review of this new film from director Takashi Shimizu (JUON) below. Now you can check out the first 8 minutes of Marebito ("A Stranger From Afar"), creepy! Go here.

Is Marebito the next JUON?

I keep hearing about Marebito and hope a DVD copy finds its way on to the shelves here in the States. Here's a review from "Bloody Disgusting".

Sarah Michelle Gellar signs on to Grudge 2

Sarah Michelle Gellar has now officially signed on to reprise her role -- albeit briefly -- in the horror sequel The Grudge 2 for Columbia Pictures and Ghost House Pictures, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Gellar will return to pass the supernatural curse -- introduced in the first installation -- on to the franchise's next lead victim, an actor to be cast soon. Director Takashi Shimizu, scribe Stephen Susco and producers Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert and Taka Ichise also are on board for the sequel. "The union of Sarah's innocent girl-next-door persona and Shimizu's twisted Eastern perspective should spawn another original and terrifying tale for the audience," Raimi said. The Grudge 2 hits theaters October 20th, 2006.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

King Kong doubters -- what the Hell?

From a BBC article about the enduring appeal of King Kong:

"Both Mr Freer and Mr Setchfield dismiss critics who say the film is merely an indulgence by its director.

"Jackson wanted to remake Kong because it's a real labour of love," says Mr Freer.

"I don't think it is a vanity project," adds Mr Setchfield.

Who the heck are these critics? What's wrong with an indulgent vanity project when it's Peter Jackson? Did they even see Lord of the Rings?

The "labour of love" scenario is the best thing movie audiences could hope for, and it's the opposite of the way most movies are made today. Some day I would love to helm a beautiful, expensive stop-motion movie that my peers loved and that made no money, becoming a cult movie that doesn't recoup it's costs until a decade of dvd sales. I'd rather make something successful, natch, but sometimes I think I'd be more likely to pull that gag, and just get suckers to bankroll me once.

With its five-day opening weekend, I'll be very surprised if Kong doesn't make back its production costs by the 18th.

Is PG-13 really all that bad?

I agree with a lot of this guy's points.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Creepy Hostel Poster

I don't know much about this film, but the ad campaign's looking good!

Grudge 2 Update

I was disappointed in the American remake of JUON but I'm all for keeping the franchise going.

Update here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dark Night of the Scarecrow


Erroneously believing that “Bubba”, a mentally challenged adult, has murdered a young girl, 4 men take it upon themselves to rid their tiny town of this perceived menace. After violently assassinating Bubba, the four men go to court but are acquitted due to a lack of evidence. Soon after, the men begin seeing a freaky-looking scarecrow appearing in their pastures and then things begin to get weird. As Bubba’s mother says, “there are other forms of justice on this earth”.

Back in the 70s and early 80s when there were only 3 television channels (4 if you counted PBS [boo!] or a half dozen if you counted UHF [better!]), you didn’t have a lot of viewing options. For me, one salient aspect of this pre-cable television era, or as I call it, “the Medieval times”, is that the “Movie of the Week” often consisted of dark, twisted horror tales that scared the crap out of my young, still-developing psyche. Although more often than not my mother forced me to go to bed (e.g., Star Wars Holiday Special!!!) effectively preventing me from ever seeing the endings of these little creepfests, I somehow managed to catch all of Dark Night of the Scarecrow and it’s always stayed with me. Yes the tale is simple and by today’s standards it follows a very predictable paint-by-numbers revenge formula, but damnit, DKOTS still works! With its sinister music, Halloween-ish camera work, and a “less-is-more” mentality, DKOTS remains a prime example of how to make an effective “horror” movie. You just don’t see movies like DKOTS on commercial television anymore.

Go here for a list of all the made-for-tv horror films of the 70s and early 80s.