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  • “RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE” (Film Review)

    Originally posted on 2010-09-10 15:03:59 by

    It isn’t really giving anything away to say that RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE ends with an explicit setup for a fifth film in the franchise, promising that it will start with a pretty epic action setpiece. But any excitement about that is tempered by the fact that AFTERLIFE’s predecessor, EXTINCTION, also concluded by laying some exciting groundwork for this follow-up—but after paying it off in spectacular fashion, AFTERLIFE spends the next 80 minutes running on fumes.

    The big news about AFTERLIFE, of course, is that it has been filmed in 3-D—“filmed” being the operative word, as opposed to being post-converted. The process thus comes off better here than in the murky likes of CLASH OF THE TITANS, and even than in PIRANHA (where the images didn’t extend past the screen plane). Unlike some filmmakers who’ve employed the gimmick, EVIL overlord Paul W.S. Anderson—once again scripting, and returning to the director’s chair for the first time since the first movie—isn’t too proud to indulge in the in-your-face possibilities, sending all sorts of weapons, splattered brains, etc. comin’ at ya.

    This is especially fun during the lengthy opening sequence, in which the clones of Alice (Milla Jovovich) introduced at the end of EXTINCTION pay a visit to the subterranean Japanese headquarters of the nefarious Umbrella Corp., with much sword-swinging, bullet-blasting and flying glass resulting. Anderson stages this action cleanly and coherently, and here, his use of MATRIX-style slo-mo makes sense, allowing the eye to focus more easily on all the hurtling 3-D elements. Unfortunately, once this mayhem is over and the focus narrows down to the “real” Alice, the technique seems to have been employed to serve the same purpose as in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III three decades ago: to cover up for the complete lack of dimension in the characterizations and storytelling.

    Four years after the Umbrella assault, Alice is seeking a place called Arcadia, from which a transmission has been broadcast promising safety and shelter amidst the zombie-ravaged wasteland the world has become. An encounter with nasty Umbrella head honcho Wesker (Shawn Roberts) leaves her stripped of the superhuman abilities she gained in the previous sequel—though she’s still able to survive a fiery plane crash shortly thereafter. In any case, that’s the end of any development of Alice’s persona, as she makes a stop in Alaska and picks up fellow survivor Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), then moves on to LA, where the duo join a motley band holed up in a prison, trying to figure out a way to get past the flesheating hordes massing outside.

    And that’s pretty much all the plot there is for the central hour, as the paper-thin characters deliver weak dialogue in dank, dimly lit rooms. AFTERLIFE is so completely lacking in human interest, it almost seems intentional: Supporting players get killed off, without a second spent mourning or even acknowledging their deaths; Claire is reunited with her brother Chris (PRISON BREAK’s Wentworth Miller, slumming) after years apart, and neither one shows the slightest interest in what the other has been up to for all this time.

    But hey, it’s not the people you go to a RESIDENT EVIL movie for—it’s the zombies that fans are really concerned with. They’re likely to be disappointed with this installment, as the ghouls are largely standard-issue and don’t get much screen time. There is a new breed introduced—the Majini, which sport big, nasty, face-sucking mouth parts—but I liked these guys better when they were called Reapers in BLADE II, which gave them more to do. For the sake of variety but with absolutely no backgrounding explanation, Anderson throws in another menace, the Axe Man, a hooded giant wielding an enormous blade-cum-sledgehammer. (Originally introduced in the RESIDENT EVIL 5 game, the Axe Man has here been slightly reconceived to resemble a cross between SILENT HILL’s Red Pyramid and the Beast from SWEATSHOP.)

    The battle between our heroes and the Axe Man contains a couple of nifty gags, and there’s a great moment at the end of a rooftop encounter between Alice and a swarm of the undead. But these are needles in a haystack of well-worn zombie/postapocalyptic conventions, given neither the dramatic nor visual spark or variety that a film series on its fourth installment desperately needs. Even when the action eventually switches settings for the final confrontation, AFTERLIFE doesn’t rise above a low boil, and at least one component of the climax feels like a reshoot allowing one of the apparently deceased to survive after all. Hopefully, he and Alice and the rest of the gang will have more interesting things to do when RESIDENT EVIL: REBIRTH or whatever they wind up calling it comes out a few years from now.

     

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  • “RESIDENT EVIL”: Conversations from the “AFTERLIFE” Part 11: Paul Jones, makeup FX artist

    Originally posted on 2010-09-09 21:16:21 by Tony Timpone

    Last December, the producers of RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE granted FANGORIA exclusive access to the Toronto set of the fourth chapter in their action/horror franchise, derived from the best-selling Capcom video games. Fangoria.com has been presenting a series of one-on-one interviews with the movie’s cast and crew since July, right up to AFTERLIFE’s release by Screen Gems starting with midnight shows tonight.

    Written and directed by film series originator Paul W.S. Anderson, AFTERLIFE once again stars Milla Jovovich as mysterious heroine Alice, who teams with a small group of postapocalyptic survivors in a world overrun with zombies, monsters and agents of the nefarious Umbrella Corporation. For more on the movie, go here to start tracking back through our previous interviews.

    Today we talk with British-born (now Toronto-based) FX artist Paul Jones, who previously created the showstopping Nemesis character in RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE (as pictured above) and has also contributed FX to GINGER SNAPS, HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH, SILENT HILL and the upcoming SOLOMON KANE.

    FANGORIA: Tell us about your workload on AFTERLIFE.

    PAUL JONES: Well, the workload has been considerable. There have been consistent elements in all the RESIDENT EVIL movies, so obviously there are certain things that were gonna be there regardless. And of course, with Paul Anderson directing again, he’s upped the ante, being the creator of the RESIDENT EVIL movies. He’s put his stamp on everything.

    FANG: This is your return to the series after working on the second film.

    JONES: I was a big fan of the first film, and I heard the second film was coming to town and was just desperate to get on it, even working for somebody else. I was blown away when [series producer] Don Carmody gave me a call and said, “Would you like to come in?” Working on APOCALYPSE was great, because it was like being brought into the family. Being the only designer on AFTERLIFE is great because I have to be responsible for everything. I’m not the type of person who likes to see different paint-brush styles used in the same painting.

    FANG: Can you compare and contrast doing the second and fourth films?

    JONES: On the second one, they actually asked me to bid on the whole movie, but it needed two totally separate sets of effects: 1) zombies, the dogs, the gore element and 2) Nemesis. I said, “Nemesis is really a movie in itself. You need one team solely concentrating on this character, and then another team doing everything else on the movie.” They said, “You don’t want to bid on the whole movie?” and I said, “No, I just want to do Nemesis.” So I was able to focus all my attention on one character, and it turned out very, very, very well. It was based on an existing design; we gave it a slightly new spin, but it was essentially the Nemesis you saw in the game, it was just our practical three-dimensional interpretation of it. But it was a really good experience briefly working with [producers] Jeremy Bolt and Paul for the design portion.

    FANG: So you didn’t do zombies on the second movie, and here you are in zombie heaven with AFTERLIFE.

    JONES: Exactly. The irony is, I’ve never actually done a zombie makeup in Toronto. I didn’t work on DIARY, LAND or DAWN [OF THE DEAD]. Actually, I did work a couple of days on SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, but this movie was really officially my first time doing a zombie makeup in Toronto, and I was given four types to do. For the burrowing zombies, because of their genetic mutation, the T-virus has made them very susceptible to light, so they’ve decided to live somewhere dark, and it also happens that the only way into the prison is underground. So the survivors think they’re safe inside, and that’s not quite the case. The fourth kind is one unique character, which had a minor role in the game, the Axe Man, but Paul really took a liking to the image. He has quite a large, extensive and impressive showdown with Milla and Ali [Larter] in the prison shower.

    FANG: So he’s the Nemesis of this movie?

    JONES: He’s essentially a reinvention of the Nemesis, but being a clear character from the game, we were able to bring him into the movie to also appease the fan base. So to create him three-dimensionally was a lot of fun.

    FANG: And you’re also creating the zombie dogs.

    JONES: Yes, a lot of the staples are back in. The dogs are the one effect I was a little nervous about, because they’d been done three times before to varying degrees of success. And each time the movie happens, the zombies are looking a little bit worse for wear than the dogs. So in this one, Paul wanted us to go to town, just make them look absolutely terrible. Of course, to do that you have to basically create a doggy suit, a complete costume, that dogs climb into and you zip up, just like you would on an actor. And that’s what we did. We sculpted areas of the body that had ripped-off flesh, we had bones exposed and we created a patchwork quilt of prosthetics that attached to an undersuit and then filled in the blanks with rotten fur and stitched that whole thing together, so the dogs suit up like you would a Predator or Alien. They’d get into their costumes in the morning, and we’d slime them down and they’d go on set.

    FANG: Were they good sports?

    JONES: The dogs were amazing. We built a mockup costume for the animal trainers, so the dogs were trained wearing that. The costume weighed nothing, it was like a pound, and the dogs knew what was going to happen when they came to set. And they were extremely well-trained by their fantastic handlers, and it actually went off without a hitch.

    FANG: That’s amazing that a Doberman pinscher would put up with that.

    JONES: It’s not as bad as it sounds. The suit was extremely flexible. It was like tissue paper in some areas, but had the strength it needed for dogs to move around in. Dogs don’t like two things: They don’t like things on their faces and they don’t like things on their feet, so since there’s a lot of running and jumping and banging around, we kept their feet as clean as possible. We kept the heads clean too, and [visual FX supervisor] Dennis Berardi and his guys are going to take elements of the suit as inspiration and modify the faces and feet; some of it will be bone. One of the dogs will have no lips; they’re gonna digitally take its whole muzzle off.

    FANG: In the previous films, all they did with the dogs was wet them down.

    JONES: Yeah, just put little lumpy bits on them and everything. Paul said, “That worked for those movies, but I want mine to be really, really gory.” Not only have human beings been modified by the virus, the dogs have too.

    FANG: Was it a challenge to bring something fresh to the zombies?
    JONES: It’s always a challenge when you’re trying to come up with something zombified that hasn’t been seen before. I don’t think it’s possible, because you’re still dealing with human beings. So instead of trying to come up with a zombie and apply it to a person, we’d find somebody who’s interesting and make them a zombie character, based on who they are. So there are a lot of very unique people we’ve hired for this and given them certain spins. I was given already a leg up on other zombie movies in that we’re already emulating a popular game’s much-loved images rather than trying to create something new. Even though we’ve ended up doing that as well.

    TO BE CONTINUED

    Stop back Monday for more Q&A time with FX maestro Jones. And check out FANGORIA #296, now on sale, featuring an all-different AFTERLIFE set-visit cover story.

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  • New “WALKING DEAD” teaser

    Originally posted on 2010-09-09 20:49:45 by Samuel Zimmerman

    As if it wasn’t painful enough waiting for the Frank Darabont directed adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s awesome zombie comic, the teasers just keep coming. Hit the jump to check out main character Rick Grimes peek into a home, and get a gnarled family portrait.

    “THE WALKING DEAD tells the story of life following a zombie apocalypse. It follows a group of survivors, led by police officer Rick Grimes, traveling in search of a safe and secure home. Andrew Lincoln (LOVE ACTUALLY) portrays the lead role of Rick Grimes while actor Jon Bernthal (THE PACIFIC) portrays the character Shane, who worked with Rick in the police department before the zombie disaster. Other cast members include Laurie Holden (THE MIST), who plays Andrea, one of two sisters who join the survivors of the zombie plague, Steven Yeun as Glenn, an expert scavenger, and Sarah Wayne Callies (PRISON BREAK), who plays Rick’s wife, Lori.

    THE WALKING DEAD premieres October 31, Halloween Night at 10 p.m. on AMC

     

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  • New poster for UK Hoodie-Horror “F”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-09 19:15:25 by Samuel Zimmerman

    The British school-under-siege film, F, came out of this year’s FrightFest with all sorts of positive buzz (and that’s only helped by its pretty creepy trailer). Now the UK poster has shown up online, and its tagline is cracking me up- hit the jump to check it out!

    Empire premiered the image. Here’s the synopsis for the film from director Johannes Roberts:

    “Welcome to the Class of 2010. The college day ends, the school building becomes a vast complex of dark corridors, eerily quiet classrooms, empty save for a few staff and children. What none of the remaining teachers and pupils realize is tonight is going to be a night they will remember for the rest of their lives. Viciously attacked by a pupil in the past English teacher Robert Anderson was devastated when the governing board refused to back his lawsuit to avoid bad publicity and scandal. Now a burned-out, world-weary alcoholic trying to reconnect with his daughter, Anderson must finally face his most terrifying demons. For the school comes under relentless attack from a faceless threat intent on causing maximum mayhem. Alone Anderson must battle brutal bloodthirsty killers, and his deepest fears, in a desperate battle for the survival of those he holds most dear. Will lessons be learned?”

    No word on a U.S. release yet, but hopefully soon.

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  • Casting news for “THE MOTH DIARIES”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-09 18:46:30 by Allan Dart

    Find out who has joined the cast of Mary Harron’s THE MOTH DIARIES, a “gothic horror pic” based on Rachel Klein’s novel.

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, UNDERWORLD’s Scott Speedman, THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS’ Lily Cole, HAPPY TOWN’s Sarah Gadon and THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES’ Sarah Bolger have signed on to THE MOTH DIARIES, which will start shooting in Montreal this October with AMERICAN PSYCHO director Harron at the helm. Bolger will play a young girl in an elite boarding school who befriends two fellow students (Gadon and Cole) while developing a crush on her English professor (Speedman). So how is this horror? Well, there’s a vampire angle to the story…

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  • New “DEVIL” featurette

    Originally posted on 2010-09-09 16:20:47 by Allan Dart

    Universal has debuted a featurette with cast/crew comments and footage from the Dowdle Brothers’ film, which is hitting theaters next Friday.

    The featurette for the M. Night Shyamalan-produced picture can be watched at ITunes Movie Trailers. Chris Messina, Geoffrey Arend, Logan Marshall-Green, Bojana Novakovic, Jenny O’Hara, Bokeem Woodbine and Jacob Vargas star in the supernatural thriller about a group of people trapped in an elevator—and one of them might be the Devil! Check out the DEVIL preview in FANGORIA #297, on sale this month, plus watch for an exclusive interview with Woodbine on this site next week.

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  • Robert Englund to guest star on “CHUCK”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-09 15:16:16 by Allan Dart

    It has already been announced that the NBC series’ fourth season will have appearances by Linda Hamilton, Timothy Dalton, Eric Roberts, Lou Ferrigno, Olivia Munn and Dolph Lundgren. Now, news has hit the web that Freddy himself, Robert Englund, will be in CHUCK’s Halloween episode. Welcome to prime time, bitch!

    The Ausiello Files reports that Englund will be in next month’s Halloween episode, “Chuck Versus Aisle of Terror.” He’ll play Dr. Stanley Wheelwright, an evil scientist who can make your waking life a nightmare. The new season kicks off Monday, September 20 at 9 p.m. ET. In other Englund news, check out the new trailer for his latest film, I WANT TO BE A SOLDIER, which we last told you about here. ROJO SANGRE’s Christian Molina directed and co-wrote the dramatic thriller, which features the former Freddy as a child psychologist administering to a violence-obsessed young boy. 

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  • Three “LET ME IN” clips

    Originally posted on 2010-09-09 14:54:34 by Samuel Zimmerman

    More glimpses of Matt Reeves’ LET ME IN have hit. Hit the jump to see Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) find out the truth about Abby (KICK-ASS’ Chloe Moretz).

    A remake of the Swedish film, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, the film follows young, bullied Owen as he meets and grows close to his new next-door neighbor- who’s actually a creature of the night. Two more clips can be seen at IMDB and EW. LET ME IN releases October 1. 

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  • Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies Registration now open!

    Originally posted on 2010-09-09 14:06:54 by Kier-La Janisse

    The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is an organization that offers a variety of theory and production-based workshops for youth aged 14-29. This year’s curriculum includes courses on Reality Horror, Hammer Films, Giallo Films, Zombie Films, Japanese Horror, Rape-revenge films, Director’s Spotlights on Mario Bava and David Cronenberg and so much more! Registration is now open and classes start October 5! Hit the jump for all the details..

    In Miskatonic courses, you’ll get to see rare scare films with a group of like-minded fans, as well as the chance to connect with horror professionals who can help you on your way to a career in the world of horror films and fiction. If you live in the Montreal area and are between the ages of 14-29, you don’t want to miss out on what Miskatonic has to offer! See the website for full descriptions of all our courses as well as instructor bios.

    CURRICULUM + REGISTRATION

    Miskatonic begins weekly Tuesday night classes in the fall of 2010, with the occasional weekend class by visiting instructors. Classes may require reading or viewing homework. Come join us for a free information session on Tuesday September 28th!

    Students can register for individual classes, or can pre-register for an immersive year-round curriculum (October-May).

    INDIVIDUAL COURSE COSTS

    Prices vary and are listed on the course description pages at the offcial website above. 

    FULL YEAR REGISTRATION costs $699 + applicable taxes and includes all currently scheduled Miskatonic courses in the 2010-2011 curriculum, as well as admission to any one-off masterclasses with visiting instructors that get added as the year goes along.

    REGISTRATION can be done in advance through paypal/credit card or in cash at the door. However, please note space is limited, so advance registration is recommended!

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  • Ron Howard bringing “DARK TOWER” to both theaters and television!

    Originally posted on 2010-09-09 01:53:44 by Samuel Zimmerman

    It’s long been asked for, an adaptation of Stephen King’s most sprawling work; THE DARK TOWER. Now, it seems it’s finally happening with Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman heading the project. It also seems it’s incredibly ambitious as it will be three feature films and a television series. Hit the jump for the details!

    Deadline broke the story that Universal and Howard and Goldsman (who’ve previously collaborated on A BEAUTIFUL MIND) have acquired the rights to King’s epic tale of gunslinger Roland Deschain and his journey to find the Dark Tower.  The two plan to turn it into both a feature film trilogy and network television show. Howard will  direct the first feature with the other two to be determined, Goldsman is writing, and the films and series will be produced by Brian Grazer and Stephen King.

    In discussing the scale, Howard told the site,”What Peter [Jackson] did was a feat, cinematic history. The approach we’re taking also stands on its own, but it’s driven by the material. I love both, and like what’s going on in TV. With this story, if you dedicated to one medium or another, there’s the horrible risk of cheating material. The scope and scale call for a big screen budget. But if you committed only to films, you’d deny the audience the intimacy and nuance of some of these characters and a lot of cool twists and turns that make for jaw-dropping, compelling television. We’ve put some real time and deep thought into this, and a lot of conversations and analysis from a business standpoint, to get people to believe in this and take this leap with us. I hope audiences respond to it in a way that compels us to keep going after the first year or two of work. It’s fresh territory for me, as a filmmaker.”

    As to how the story will be mapped out, Deadline has provided this outline:

    “The plan is to start with the feature film, and then create a bridge to the second feature with a season of TV episodes. That means the feature cast—and the big star who’ll play Deschain—also has to appear in the TV series before returning to the second film. After that sequel is done, the TV series picks up again, this time focusing on Deschain as a young gunslinger. Those storylines will be informed by a prequel comic book series that King was heavily involved in plotting. The third film would pick up the mature Deshain as he completes his journey. They will benefit from being able to use the same sets cast and crew for the movie and TV, which could help contain costs on what will be a financially ambitious undertaking.”

    Let’s hope something of this scale can be pulled off, and pulled off beautifully at that!

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  • Exclusive “GROWTH” photos

    Originally posted on 2010-09-08 22:23:53 by Tony Timpone

    FANGORIA has obtained a couple of exclusive photos from the new horror/sci-fi thriller GROWTH, which debuted on DVD yesterday from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Check them out after the jump.

    Written and directed by BREATHING ROOM’s Gabriel Cowan, GROWTH stars THE BLACK WATERS OF ECHO’S POND’s Mircea Monroe, SLEEPWALKERS’ Brian Krause, HATCHET’s Richard Riehle, CABIN FEVER 2’s Alexi Wasser and RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP’s Christopher Shand. Per the official synopsis, “GROWTH is a frightening excursion into science gone haywire. Years ago, a series of experiments in advanced parasitic research on Kuttyhunk Island went horribly wrong, mysteriously killing off three quarters of the island’s population, with the survivors fleeing for their lives. Two decades later, one of the survivors returns with some family and friends to sell the property, only to uncover horrifying secrets and begin a desperate fight for survival against a new enemy capable of entering the human body anytime, anywhere, any opening…” See all the disc details here.

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  • Air date for “HALLOWEEN: THE INSIDE STORY”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-08 21:02:01 by Samuel Zimmerman

    It’s getting closer and closer to Halloween season, so isn’t it the perfect time to go behind the mask and check out a documentary about The Shape? Yup, it’s another look at John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN and the film franchise that followed.

    Dread Central reports that Phil Nobile’s feature-length documentary, HALLOWEEN: THE INSIDE STORY, will be airing on A&E’s Biography Channel on October 28, 9 p.m. ET. The talking heads include Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis, Irwin Yablans, Dean Cundey, Nick Castle, Nancy Kyes, P.J. Soles, Tommy Lee Wallace, Danielle Harris, Rob Zombie and more.

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