17 December 2007

Coming Soon: The Poughkeepsie Tapes

Release Date: 8 February 2008

If you haven't seen the film yet, the less you know going in the better, so you might want to hold off reading reviews and interviews until afterwards. - Ryan Stewart, Cinematical

I was excited when I first saw the trailer in the theater. Then I saw the mask and that kinda put the damper on my enthusiasm. Sounds like a lot of torture porn, but over at Cinematical, Ryan Stewart has said "it works as a horror-comedy". He also said it has a "third act surprise", so I don't want to hear any more about it before I see it.

Cinematical: Tribeca Review

Note to Poughkeepsie Director: Get a New Marketing Team, Immediately

15 December 2007

Coming Soon: Cloverfield

18 January 2008

Watch the trailer at the official site.

See Cloverfield Clues for news!

14 December 2007

My Review: I Am Legend

"Here come this Negro saving the world again." - Tavis Smiley

Smart and downbeat rarely plays mainstream (just look at the fast disappearance of Frank Darabont’s The Mist), but if you’re up for melancholy and contemplation in an action-thriller; then it just doesn’t get much better than I Am Legend. - CinemaBlend
Well, this will not be so much a review as a random collection of thoughts...

Even for the most anti-social of us (like myself), extreme, extended, complete, involuntary solitude can wear away at your sanity. Solitary confinement is a punishment in prisons. Add to that the fact that you have created the situation yourself, with no likely end, and the all-consuming guilt of having personally decimated 99% of the world population, and even the strongest man is headed for a breakdown.


It was kinda a let-down that the "Dark Seekers" were so CGI that they looked supernatural. They didn't move naturally, and when they yelled, their faces seemed to stretch. Eric D. Snider got it right when he said they looked like they were in a video game. The first glimpse was creepy - what the heck were they doing in that huddle?

FANGORIA has some photos of what the Dark Seekers were originally supposed to look like before they decided to go the CGI route. I think they look super cool.

Roger Ebert: The situation raises questions of logic. If Neville firmly believes he is the last healthy man alive, who is the vaccine for? Only himself, I guess.
Well, ...um, uh.. hmmm.

Roger Ebert: But we have seen every bridge into Manhattan blown up as part of a quarantine of the island, so how did they get there? Boat? Why go to the risk?
Anna said she had come by boat from some evacuation site in Puerto Rico or some-such, didn't she?


Bob Marley - Three Little Birds

I predict Bob Marley will be the #1 download on iTunes!

Watch the first five minutes. Compare to the video clip from Vanilla Sky below.

Elements of Vanilla Sky (a deserted Manhattan and a hot little mamacita), Night of the Comet, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Cast Away, 28 Days/Weeks Later...

13 December 2007

Kindertrauma: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

See Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory at Kindertrauma.

11 December 2007

Hatchet (Unrated Director's Cut)

“This is the best horror movie I have ever been involved with. All I can say is that it’s great. I stake my reputation on it.” – KANE HODDER

This was bad. And not Michael Jackson "Bad". Or perhaps it IS Michael Jackson bad. Like "Captain Neo" bad. Sha-mone! I was not amused after being fish-hooked into seeing this in theaters on the promise of "the best slasher film in twenty years". If you missed the bullshit reviews, seriously, you need to see them to believe them. They claimed "Victor Crowley will be the first film killer in years to join the upper echelon ranks of Michael, Jason, and Freddy. He is the next big thing in horror."

Now, I'm well aware of the "quote whores" who will praise any movie to the high heavens for promotional purposes, but these were quotes from people I thought I could trust. Horror fans. Bloody Disgusting. Even Jason and Freddy themselves. And I can account for differences in opinion, but these were all unequivocal, in no uncertain terms. Now that I've had time to reflect on the experience, I think I might have actually enjoyed this movie if the reviews hadn't totally skewed my expectations.

It seems they said those things to get funding, or distribution. I can't imagine they really meant them. I can imagine they might have enjoyed the movie, but not what they said in those quotes. It must have been done to get an original small-budget horror film in theaters. I'm all for that, especially with the never-ending onslaught of remakes. But now they're all the boys who cried wolf in my eyes. Couldn't it have been done with favorable honest reviews? Are they really helping horror if the picture underperforms? Isn't that just going to make it harder for the next independent filmmaker who's really holding the next classic?

Maybe I'm just a total noob. I'm certainly not too familiar with the inner workings of the horror film industry. But this one really left a bad taste in my mouth. I fell for it hook, line and sinker and was left feeling completely hosed.

However, I'll be renting this when it comes out next week to watch all the extras. I'm really curious about what the tone of the commentary will be. With my expectations completely dashed, there's nowhere to go but up. Knowing what to expect (and what not to expect) the second time around, and having a skip forward button, hopefully I'll enjoy it more for what it is.

If you haven't seen it, folks, expect a B-movie with a lot of comedy. With that mindset, you'll probably like it a lot.

From memory, there was nobody to root for but the killer. He was way too sympathetic, and the victims were all annoying as hell. Then, they don't allow that direction to pay off. I think it was just a poor formula. What it had going for it was the humor and special effects.

I'm willing to wipe the slate clean and give this one another chance. I'll freely admit if my opinion has improved when I rent it in the next week or two. Reviewers are still raving about it in second wave of reviews for the DVD, so maybe I'm just the odd girl out on this one. If you liked it, please feel free to take me to school in the comments and vote in the poll on the side bar.

This deal doesn't appear to be valid for the new releases, but if you were interested in ordering some older Anchor Bay DVDs, try coupon code BOGOANCBAY to get "buy one, get one free"over at deepdiscount.com. The coupon code expires December 19th.

Release Date: 12/11/2007 ----Release Date: 12/18/2007

10 December 2007

First Reviews: I Am Legend

AMC SciFi Scanner: The First Review of 'I Am Legend'

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter: Smith's fascinating 'Legend' spoiled by ending

Seattle Times: What's riskier for Smith: vampires or a one-man show?

Los Angeles Times Scene Stealer: Re-imagining Times Square in 'I Am Legend'

Actor Will Smith, star of 'I Am Legend,' is helped as he places his feet in cement during a hand and footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theater Monday, Dec. 10, 2007, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

Unfortunately circumstances of my own wouldn't allow me to make the early screening of this today here in Chicago today. :(

If you'd like to accompany us to see it opening weekend (December 14-16) please click on over to the Chicago Horror Movies Meetup Group. If you're not in the Chicago area, find a movie meetup group near you at meetup.com.

Meet 'I Am Legend' director Francis Lawrence at SoHo Apple Store

Join 'I Am Legend' director Francis Lawrence at the SoHo Apple Store in New York City at 3pm on December 11th, as he screens scenes from the movie and discusses the making of this film, adapted from the Richard Matheson sci-fi novel and starring two-time Oscar nominee Will Smith. Following the discussion, Lawrence will take questions from the audience. The film’s producer and co-writer, Akiva Goldsman, will moderate the event.

The store is located at 103 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012. Click through for more details.

07 December 2007

Movies Rock: The Blood Brothers

If you subscribe to any Condé Nast magazines, you got a copy of their supplemental Movies Rock magazine last month. (There's a program of the same name on CBS tonight, but it looks entirely lame.) The magazine had a photo feature called Sight & Sound that included two horror portraits. One, titled Blood Brothers, was composed of a homicidal Marilyn Monroe look-alike posing with two of her victims Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. The other, The Fright Club is a portrait of Tim Burton with Johhny Depp as Sweeney Todd.

I scanned & cropped Marilyn as I thought it might make an interesting desktop wallpaper. Supersize it!

The left panel of the photo had Quentin sprawled out on the floor - I'll scan it a bit later, along with the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton photo. Right now, I'm off to see The Golden Compass!

As I received several copies of the magazine, I might do a giveaway or two if there's any interest. You know, after I start getting a little traffic through here and someone reads this one day. Leave a comment!

05 December 2007

First Reviews Call 'Sweeney Todd' Best Film of 2007

Cinematical: First Reviews Call 'Sweeney Todd' Best Film of 2007

Movie City News: Early Review

If you'd like to accompany us to see it opening weekend (December 21-23) please click on over to the Chicago Horror Movies Meetup Group. If you're not in the Chicago area, find a movie meetup group near you at meetup.com.

04 December 2007

Doh! Will Smith gives away ending of "I Am Legend" (but reporters don't)

TOKYO - Will Smith, director Francis Lawrence, and producer Akiva Goldsman were in Tokyo Tuesday, promoting their new movie I Am Legend. Smith, 39, had a busy day, visiting the U.S. base at Yokota in the morning, before being flown back to Roppongi in a Black Hawk helicopter. He will attend the Japan premiere of "I Am Legend" on Wednesday night before heading to South Korea. - from Japan Today

TOKYO - Will Smith had the producer of his latest film holding his head in anguish on Tuesday after the actor gave away the ending of I Am Legend.

Speaking at a Tokyo news conference, Smith inadvertently revealed the plot, prompting co-producer and co-screenwriter Akiva Goldsman to shout: "Don't give away the ending!"

Press handlers asked all present to keep the ending a secret, so as not to spoil it for viewers.

The movie premieres simultaneously in the United States and Japan on December 14.

Reporting by Toshi Maeda, writing by George Nishiyama,
Photos by Koji Sasahara & Kim Kyung-Hoon

03 December 2007

Oliver Stone's The Hand

Continuing with the "newly-lost limb" theme of last week's I Know Who Killed Me, the Final Girl Film Club now presents Oliver Stone's The Hand.

This is the second selection from the recently released Warner Bros. Twisted Terror Collection, last month's pick having been Eyes of a Stranger. Eyes of a Stranger is a new favorite of mine, but I still haven't yet managed to complete my review - it's currently in progress!

The Hand is really not the sort of thing expected from Oliver Stone. For those that might not know his work by name, he is largely known for films about political controversies & conspiracies (Platoon, Born On the Fourth of July, JFK, Nixon) as well as writing screenplays such as Scarface and Conan the Barbarian. This movie led me to discover he previously wrote another horror screenplay based on a nightmare he had, which was made into the movie Seizure! that I'll be watching and reviewing next.

Expect more of a psychological horror thriller than a creature special effects film. Michael Caine stars as a comic-strip artist (Jon Lansdale) at the point of a mid-life crisis, whose drawing hand is severed in an automobile accident. As his life begins to unravel, he's thrown into fits of jealousy and rage, prone to drinking binges and blackouts. He comes to believe his severed hand, which was never recovered, is attacking the objects of his anger. Or is it just a delusion?

Oliver Stone adapted his screenplay for "The Hand" from a book titled "The Lizard's Tail" by Marc Brandel. In addition to the idea of a severed lizard tail having a life of its own, the movie contains many psychological themes regarding the idea of the reptilian brain. The reptilian brain is the center of our most primitive instincts, such as murderous rage and territoriality. (For more on the topic in layman's terms, try The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence by Carl Sagan).

Jon jokes early in the film, when his wife suggests the possibility of his seeing a psychiatrist:
"After a thousand dollars he'll probably tell me I have a penis complex because I lost my hand!" This seemed to be the central theme of the film. Jon is reasonably successful and attractive, but aging. He's been married to Anne (Andrea Marcovicci), his younger, beautiful wife, long enough to have fathered their daughter, but his wife already has a plan in effect to ditch the marriage in Vermont and move to Manhattan and start an upscale new-age macro-biotic life with her certifiably-icky yoga instructor.

"And tuck this!"

When a marital argument in the car leads to the loss of his livelihood, Jon becomes increasingly controlling and possessive. He feels threatened by the young up-and-coming artist (Charles Fleischer) that now has designs on taking over the comic strip that's been his life's work. Jon accuses him of "cutting the balls off" his main character, "Mandro".

*Someone* has scribbled all over David's work,
and drawn a little caricature of him, too!
Landing on his feet as men quite often do after a mid-life shake-up, he lands a cake-walk "teaching" job and rent-free house across the country in Big Bear Lake, California. Stella, a lovely young thing he's hardly taken notice of in class, delivers herself up on his doorstep.

In spite of this, he needlessly gets caught up in a swordfight with a crude fellow teacher (Bruce McGill) who styles himself to have a claim on Stella, even though she's made it abundantly clear she prefers Jon. Yep, pretty much sounds like a penis complex to me.

"Fuck Christmas!"

Oliver Stone originally had Jon Voight in mind for the lead role, but he turned it down. Dustin Hoffman and Christopher Walken also passed. Michael Caine accepted, despite not having a history in horror at the time, although he's known for his roles in several today. Besides starring an Academy Award winning actor in the lead role, I found the entire cast to be really outstanding.

Jon's little daughter Lizzie is played by Mara Hobel, who was nominated for a Razzie this same year for her role as the younger Christina Crawford in the cult classic Mommie Dearest. (Surely her nominations for both WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS and WORST NEW STAR were due to the fab-atrociousness of the film itself, rather than due to any fault of her own.)

Mara Hobel as Christina

The highlight of the film for me was being introduced to Annie McEnroe (Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf Bitch), who plays Stella, the career community college student. I've been completely charmed. Her sketchbook is hysterical!

"I'll take it in the can!"

The students in Jon's community college class were a extra-special treat. Extra-special. Just like the local law enforcement.

Do you have a favorite comic strip, Billy?

How about you, dear?

Is this shirt supposed to look like watermelon seeds? It's cute!

Just in time for the holiday season, this movie even has scary Re-Gifting!

Music: There's a pretty boss Blondie song in the movie: Union City Blue. And in tribute to Stella, I hereby declare David Naughton's Makin' It an honorary soundtrack cut.

"I'm kinda old-fashioned, I like to make it in bed, okay?"

*Someone* been doodling in the kitchen
while someone's been diddling in the bedroom...

Special Effects:

The DVD includes a very easy-going, candid and enjoyable commentary by Oliver Stone.

I thought the car accident was corny, but he seems pretty pleased with it. Why didn't Jon just pull his hand in?

One of the things he discusses is being pressured by the studio to include bigger creature effects (à la Jaws) instead of the "less is more" approach. The hand effects were done by Carlo Rambaldi (King Kong, Alien, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Dune).

I was enamored with his lobster!

Stone says Stan Winston and Tom Burman joined the production late as consultants and helped save the day in the hand make-up department.


Three years later, Charles Fleischer (the replacement cartoonist) played the role of Dr. King in A Nightmare on Elm Street. John Stinton (the icky yoga instructor) later had a role in Freddy's Nightmares.

Word is SCTV did a sketch titled "My Bloody Hand" spoofing "The Hand" while the movie was in theaters in 1981. It's part of show #89 included in the Volume 2 DVD set. This is the kind of thing I'd love to see included as an extra on DVD releases, although surely red tape must often make it next to impossible. It's up next in my queue!

Other disembodied-hand movie selections for your perusal:

Idle Hands (1999)
Devon Sawa (pictured below) starred in this horror comedy the year before he appeared in Final Destination. After seeing Devon's performance in Final Destination, Dr. Dre cast him in the title role in Eminem's "Stan" video. Five years earlier, Devon starred in Casper with Christina Ricci. More recognizable names in Idle Hands are Fred Willard, Vivica A. Fox, Seth Green, and Jessica Alba. Jessica Alba is appearing in theaters this week in the medical horror movie "Awake" with Hayden Christiansen.