LOGO
  • It’s “THE ROCKY HORROR GLEE SHOW”!

    Originally posted on 2010-09-11 12:42:40 by

    This year marks the 35th anniversary of the ultimate cult film/midnight movie THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, and while Fox Home Entertainment has a celebratory Blu-ray set coming October 19, Fox TV will pay homage in an episode of its hit series GLEE. And two original cast members will be joining in.

    E! Online reports that Barry Bostwick, who starred as Brad, and Meat Loaf, the rocker who played ill-fated delivery boy Eddie (pictured), will appear in the episode as TV station managers who make an “interesting proposal” to ruthless cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, played by Jane Lynch. Susan Sarandon, who portrayed ROCKY HORROR heroine Janet, has expressed interest in taking part as well, but no deal has been signed yet. The show will feature performances by the regular characters of numerous songs from ROCKY HORROR (which GLEE lead actor Matthew Morrison once performed on Broadway), and airs October 26. It’s not the first network series to do the “Time Warp”; CBS built an episode of its crime drama COLD CASE around the movie and its songs in 2005.

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  • “RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE” to set franchise box-office record

    Originally posted on 2010-09-11 12:25:32 by

    The very early box-office estimates for this weekend are in, and based on Friday’s figures, it looks like RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE will very easily claim the number-one spot, and also have the best opening in the franchise’s history.

    Deadline reports an opening-day gross (presumably including Thursday-midnight shows) of $11 million, which should be good for a weekend total of $28 million. (Final estimates will be announced Sunday afternoon.) That bests the three previous films in Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich’s video-game-based zombie series: The original opened in March 2002 to $17.7 million and finished with $40.1 million; APOCALYPSE debuted in September 2004 to $23 million on the way to $51.2 million; and EXTINCTION started off with $23.7 million in September 2007 and wrapped up with $50.6 million. Higher ticket prices for 3-D showings of AFTERLIFE helped, of course; about 2,000 of the movie’s 3,203 screens were 3-D, including 164 in IMAX. Elsewhere on the chart, Fox’s MACHETE looks to take a big drop to about $4.5 million and fifth place in its second weekend for a total of $21.1 million, while THE LAST EXORCISM should do about $3-$3.5 million for sixth place and a cume of $38.2 million.

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  • Terrifyingly Gnarly: Wes Craven, Week 3: “THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-10 21:23:52 by Samuel Zimmerman

    Quite recently, a blog went up on FANGORIA taking a handful of legendary horror directors to task for essentially riding the waves of their legacy and failing to continuously and contemporarily put out excellent work. No doubt, it’s an interesting theory worth debating and investigating. However in my eyes, its author made one fatal mistake (and no, it wasn’t that confrontational opening line—although that was slightly devoid of taste). Nick sought to claim that Wes Craven neither is, nor ever was, great. I’m under the belief that no matter how you feel about many of his films, that’s simply a falsehood. So with four weeks until the filmmaker’s latest, MY SOUL TO TAKE, hits theaters, I’ve decided to look at one of his movies a week (excluding the landmarks like LAST HOUSE, NIGHTMARE and SCREAM) to showcase that even during misfires and his lesser praised works, Craven displays talent, chops and incredible imagination. Check out last week’s right here and read on for week three—my look at 1988’s Haitian Voodoo-zombie flick THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW.

    “Listen to me, there’s a door to the mystical, and you just walked through it,” says Michael Gough to Bill Pullman. “Right now you are very vulnerable. I wouldn’t go back to Haiti. You’d be a grade school boy in a world of Nobel Prize winners.”

    Considering the fine china, parlor room, bow ties and Boston/Cambridge Ivy League setting, and especially considering the American conceit of often thinking of ourselves as the most developed and intelligent (often in relation to third world and struggling nations), it’s an interesting (and ironic since Pullman’s Alan Dennis would presumably be awarded something akin to a Nobel Prize if his mission were successful) choice of words that hold a lot of weight in explaining just what makes well done horror and THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW so effective. It’s that classic fear of the unknown, the different. A good many citizens of superpower nations around the world may study all they want, and the idea here is that Alan—being an anthropologist—has, but will never fully understand or not be unsettled by the clash of values, customs, superstitions and beliefs that often crop up in underdeveloped countries. Nor will they grasp that often their aid and wishes to help will have nary a dent of an effect thanks to corrupt political regimes.

    In SERPENT, Dr. Alan Dennis is approached by a pharmaceutical corporation with the task of learning more about, and obtaining a sample of, a powder used in voodoo ceremonies in Haiti. His past exploits in the Amazon fuel the idea that Alan will be able to handle what comes next. We know he can’t. Once in Haiti, Alan becomes close with Marielle Duchamp, a psychiatrist and branded radical. The two investigate the existence of the powder, what’s happened to supposed zombie Christophe and becomes entangled in both supernatural voodoo rites and political upheaval amidst the Jean-Claude Duvalier regime.

    From its initial concept (based upon a nonfiction account by Wade Davis), what’s very exciting about Craven and screenwriters Richard Maxwell and Adam Rodman’s approach to this zombie film is their interest in looking back farther than Romero’s 1968 landmark to the original zombies, mindless slaves spawned by voodoo in the Caribbean. By 1988, audiences had no doubt grown very accustomed to the modern undead and just what they entailed so bringing it back a step to an unfamiliar landscape no doubt brought a freshness and still does. There aren’t a whole lot of films like THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW, and it’s all the better for it. What’s more is that Craven’s scares are still effective which is in part thanks to the set up and execution of out-and-out supernatural shocks, but also the all around sense of dread and hallucinatory “out of one’s element” atmosphere in the film (in the beginning, a man comments on the remarkableness of Haiti in that at a communal celebration involving needles and fire feats, none of the Haitians seem to bleed or be injured). Craven smartly lets his shots linger steadily and matter-of-factly and often a bit too long on the odd and off-kilter happenings, putting an audience member face-to-face with something alien. The director also takes his time in setting up the environment in things like displaying an entire funeral procession before transitioning into the characters and beginning of the Haitian aspect of the story. The atmosphere begins with Alan in the jungles of the Amazon, clenches tightly to his shoulders throughout his stay in Haiti and even follows him back to the U.S. at the end of the second act for one of the scariest and best scenes in the film (a friend’s wife mimics a Haitian glass eater seen earlier in the movie by chomping on her wine glass at dinner, and with a mouth full of shards viciously, attempts to attack Alan across the table). 

    What makes these scares so deeply unsettling is very akin to Craven’s work in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Many of Alan’s more frightening encounters are dreams or hallucinations that very much skirt the line of reality. There’s a sense that these aren’t nightmares that will wash away with the cold sweat, but have a lasting effect either physically or mentally that’s only confirmed when it’s revealed that Captain Peytraud (a superb and sinister Zakes Mokae), the dictator’s second-in-command and head of the oppressive and violent secret police, is heavily dabbling in voodoo and crafting the walking nightmares Alan sees (who could forget the skeleton bride, spewing the serpent from her mouth?). 

    Even though the film had apparently departed greatly from its source text, something it came under fire for from the original author—likely for being turned into a genre story—under Craven’s guidance and his social and political awareness, the horror becomes a way to express his interest in looking at what an unstable, militant and violent government does to itself and its people. Before zombies became ravenous flesh eaters, the real fear was that you’d be a mindless slave, stripped of soul and forced to wander in limbo and servitude, often to men of dark intentions (which Romero fused beautifully with the modern zombie in his DAWN OF THE DEAD to discuss our blind loyalty to consumer culture). Under Peytraud, who holds many souls hostage, he’s slowly turning the people of Haiti into figurative and literal zombies, unable to speak out, doing as he says and deploying both the aforementioned walking nightmares and very real and very murderous police to make his point. Setting the film during the regime of Duvalier grounds the supernatural occurrences, creating a very clear parallel and showcasing that although Alan is able to kill Peytraud, it’s the people of Haiti who had to rise up and drive Duvalier out.

    While most of the frights in THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW aren’t exactly subtle, they contain a stern eerie sensibility, one that flies out the window when Alan and Peytraud meet in the climax and where some viewers may be taken out as souls begin flying around and Peytraud comes shooting out of walls. I wasn’t necessarily taken aback or put off, but excited by the grandiose-ness of it all and where it ends up, with the captain in his torturing chair, being sucked into hell, no doubt an incredible moment in the film. 

    THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW is an example of Craven at his best, employing excellent filmmaking, tension, scares and what horror should often be used for, exploring the plight of the repressed, both in the sense of people and taboos.

    You can read the blog that incited my seven week response right here, as well as check out my initial idea and drop me suggestions for what Craven films you’d like to see me tackle here.

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  • International trailer for “LET ME IN”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-10 18:18:19 by Allan Dart

    With all of the clips, images and video being released as of late, Overture Films’ vampire drama LET ME IN is certainly getting a strong promotional push. Check out a new international preview after the jump.

    Click here to watch three other clips from LET ME IN, which opens October 1. Writer/director Matt Reeves talks up the film in Fango #297, on sale this month.

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  • Special “SKYLINE” preview at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights

    Originally posted on 2010-09-10 17:43:43 by Allan Dart

    This year’s Halloween Horror Nights at LA’s Universal Studios has another attraction to entice visitors: a sneak peek at the Strause Brothers’ alien invasion film SKYLINE.

    Shock Till You Drop reports that the trailer will be a part of the Terror Tram tour. Directed by AVP:R’s Greg & Colin Strause, SKYLINE opens November 12 and stars TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE’s Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, Donald Faison, DEXTER’s David Zayas and Crystal Reed.

    Click here for links to SKYLINE’s poster and trailer. And you can go to Halloween Horror Nights’ official site for more info on the event.

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  • Fango Flashback: “THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-10 17:03:58 by Tony Timpone

    Just a year after being impaled in the heart and turning to dust, the undead Romanian vampire came back in American International Pictures’ THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA, a largely superior sequel to 1970’s COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (see Fango Flashback here). Strangely, no effort is made by the filmmakers (including returning director Bob Kelljan, who co-wrote the follow-up with actress Yvonne Wilder) to explain just how Yorga (Robert Quarry again in his most famous role) actually returns to life; ditto, his ugly valet Brudah (Edward Walsh), who we last saw being stabbed to death in his master’s mansion. In RETURN, they just show up for this second go-round of cultured vampire shenanigans.

    The previous film’s Van Helsing stand-in, actor Roger Perry—who we previously witnessed getting drained by Yorga’s hungry brides—also turns up again, but at least as a different character (a psychiatrist, as opposed to the first film’s doctor, and now sporting a goatee), though he serves the same function as before—a desperate vampire slayer wannabe. (It would have made more sense to make this a prequel, but I suppose U.S. studios didn’t think that way in those days. The Hammer Draculas, by contrast, made a point of showing how the Count could be reanimated after his memorable demises in preceding films.)

    So Yorga’s back and now ensconced in an antique-laden mansion situated next door to a large orphanage. After he attacks a young boy and his chick posse dig themselves out of their graves NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD-style, Yorga crashes a costume party at the orphanage. He takes an immediate shine to Cynthia (Mariette Hartley, former Spock squeeze and TV pitchwoman), who’s engaged to Dr. Baldwin (Perry). In a scene that echoes the then-timely Manson murders in its viciousness, the vampiresses slaughter Cynthia’s family during a home invasion and kidnap her for their lovesick master. In his abode, Yorga puts Cynthia under a hypnotic spell, while the slayings at the neighbors’ place have been conveniently covered up. The shrink suspects something fishy, however, and brings in a couple of incredulous detectives (Rudy De Luca and POLTERGEIST/COACH star Craig T. Nelson in his movie debut), and before long, the humans penetrate the fiend’s lair for a staking jamboree—just like in the first YORGA film, only bigger.

    Mirroring today’s overproduced tentpole franchises, everything about this better-produced YORGA sequel is bigger: a bigger cast, more locations, more action and more bloodletting. Kelljan keeps the story bouncing along to a livelier beat than the previous film, while DP Bill Butler (of JAWS fame) lenses several atmospheric death scenes and off-kilter point-of-view shots (one looking up from the ocean floor as Yorga goes in for the kill on a dock). I also love the eerie scenes with Yorga racing down hallways in slow motion, cape flowing, arms outstretched and teeth bared.

    RETURN boasts some welcome humor (at the costume bash, a nosy lady asks Yorga where he keeps his fangs, and a Dracula getup wins first place). I’ll bet De Luca ad-libbed some of his funny lines; the actor later graduated to Emmy-winning comedy writing for the likes of Carol Burnett and Mel Brooks (he also co-wrote Brooks’ HIGH ANXIETY—in which he played the strangler with braces—SILENT MOVIE and DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT, and scripted and directed the sorry spoof TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000). Michael Pataki, who played the daddy bloodsucker in 1974’s GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE (scripted by THE SOPRANOS’ David Chase!), falls prey to Yorga here. And George Macready, who provided the ripe narration in the first movie, earns a cameo for producer son Michael on the sequel, portraying an addled professor who confuses Yorga with yoga! And just like the first movie, RETURN OF COUNT YORGA throws in the requisite California travelogue footage (another exhausting walk by talkative strollers), with San Francisco (cable cars and all) delighting the local tourist board.

    To THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA’S detriment, the movie hews just a little too closely to the 1970 film in its final act, with one of our intrepid heroes trying to distract the suspicious vampire while the others go snooping around his dusty digs. The surprise ending also echoes the first film’s to a T. Still, this is a fun vampfest, and fang fans will find lots to enjoy in both Yorga films. Too bad they didn’t make more of these. Some consider Ray Danton’s 1972 hippie vampire movie DEATHMASTER—in which Quarry played a bloodsucking guru (what other kind?) named Khorda—as an unofficial Yorga movie. AIP reportedly considered pitting Yorga against Vincent Price’s maniac medico in DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN (what a film that would have been!), but instead cast Quarry in the campy 1972 film as the eternal-life seeking Dr. Bierderbeck. After a few further lackluster horror stints (SUGAR HILL, MADHOUSE), Quarry’s career stalled in the late ’70s. Eventually, exploitation filmmaker and Quarry buff Fred Olen Ray kept the actor busy in his direct-to-video mill in the ’80s and ’90s (CYCLONE, HAUNTING FEAR, INNER SANCTUM 2, etc.), and the two even fooled around with the idea of doing a third YORGA film. The project never materialized, sadly, and Quarry died in February 2009 at age 83.

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  • The truth is no longer “HIDDEN”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-10 16:29:00 by

    HIDDEN 3D, the first dimensional feature from Italy, has undergone a shakeup since it was first announced earlier this year. Among other things, DARK WATERS’ Mariano Baino, who wrote the original script with actress Coralina Cataldi Tassoni, was replaced as director by Antoine Thomas, and he has sent out a statement explaining the situation.

    “Both Coralina and I [pictured below] would like to clarify a couple of things regarding our involvement with HIDDEN 3D,” Baino says. “I co-wrote the original screenplay with the amazingly talented Coralina Cataldi Tassoni. Most people know her as a wonderfully gifted actress and painter, but she is also a very talented writer. We came up with a truly unique concept and wanted to make a genuinely disturbing, multilayered movie. Unfortunately, the producers decided to go in a completely different direction and we decided to leave the project. No hard feelings. Stuff happens. Lesson learned. It was a labor of love for us, a project we spent years writing and developing. As artists, both of us care deeply about everything we get involved with, and we couldn’t bear the thought of making the movie the producers wanted to make.

    “We have kept our ‘story by’ credit on HIDDEN 3D,” he continues, “because the movie is still based on our original story, but signed the screenplay with a couple of very obvious pseudonyms [Alan Smithy and Alana Smithy], because very little, if any, of our screenplay or our original intention and vision was left in the movie they are making, but that’s the extent of our association with the movie now. Anyway, the whole HIDDEN 3D experience is behind us, and Coralina and I are already on to our next, bigger and better project.”

    HIDDEN 3D is about horrible goings-on in an abandoned experimental medical center, and stars Sean Clement, Simonetta Solder, Jordan Hayes, Jason Blicker, Bjanka Murgel and Devon Bostick (from LAND and SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD). We’ll keep you posted on further developments.

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  • Filmmaker talks “TERROR” documentary “CREEP!”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-10 15:56:26 by Mark McLaughlin

    Usually, the most terrifying aspect of any horror movie is its creature. But as Pete Schuermann (pictured), writer/director of the forthcoming documentary CREEP!, reveals, the most frightening facet of the 1964 camp classic THE CREEPING TERROR wasn’t its human-gobbling alien visitors. It was in fact the director, 29-year-old con artist Art (A.J.) Nelson, a.k.a. Vic Savage, a.k.a. Arthur White.

    “A.J. Nelson was a chameleon of cosmic proportions—in many ways the true monster behind the original film,” Schuermann, owner of Monster Zero Animation and FX, tells Fango. Together with producer Nancy Theken and editor Dave Wruck, he explores the origins of TERROR and the cinematic malpractice of its creator in CREEP! While making TERROR, Nelson roped many trusting people into his web of weirdness, and Schuermann says the goal of his movie is to connect the dots between a horrible movie and its apparently psychotic maker.

    “What emerged is a story about a man who saw the human desire for creative collaboration as a very potent kind of catnip,” Schuermann says. “And he dangled that catnip masterfully to achieve his own ends—which was making money any way he could.”

    THE CREEPING TERROR tells the tale of a spaceship that lands on Earth with alien passengers—creatures reminiscent of Chinese New Year dragons, in that they’re composed of tarps with performers underneath, topped with artificial heads. But while the Chinese monster visages are artfully sculpted, the heads of TERROR’s aliens are shapeless masses adorned with Slinky-like whiskers. Schuermann first saw the film in 1980 when he was a teenager living in Montrose, Colorado. “My brother and I, after months of intense frustration with the limited entertainment choices afforded through local TV, had finally found a program that featured genre films: SCREAM THEATER, which aired Saturday nights.” He fondly remembers the night when TERROR was featured: “We were in absolute hysterics. In reflection, a definite sense of unreality pervaded the entire experience; we had never heard of it, much less been witness to a movie that was entirely narrated.”

    Years later, Schuermann learned of the film’s incredible history. “Harry Medved, co-author of THE GOLDEN TURKEY AWARDS, was also a huge fan of THE CREEPING TERROR,” he says. “Thanks to the Medved brothers’ follow-up book, SON OF GOLDEN TURKEY AWARDS, I was able to learn TERROR’s backstory. They had an entire chapter dedicated to the movie, which described in detail Art Nelson’s efforts to make it and hustle people.”

    That book inspired Schuermann to make CREEP! To gather information for the documentary, Schuermann and Theken decided that TERROR star and key investor Bill Thourlby (pictured left) would be the logical place to start, and Schuermann contacted Paul Parla, author of a past interview with Thourlby. “Paul was kind and supportive and offered some routes to try and connect with Bill,” Schuermann recalls. “He also provided us with further background on the production and gave us many more connections to people involved. Basically, we owe much to Paul and his researcher Eric Huffstutler, as they had already gathered up a wealth of information.”

    In time, the CREEP! team tracked down Thourlby. “We met this witty, still handsome elder statesman at the New York Athletic Club,” Schuermann says. “His interview was golden, just as we had hoped.” From that point on, getting people involved was a surprisingly easy process. “We would send an e-mail or make a phone call and see if those people we had found would agree to go on camera. In almost every case, the answer was yes.”

    To date, the CREEP! team has also interviewed screenwriter Allan Silliphant, actor Byrd Holland, Nelson’s ex-wife Lois Wiseman, FX guru Richard Edlund (creator of TERROR’s title sequence!), Harry and Michael Medved, Ain’t It Cool News “Head Geek” Harry Knowles, Parla, Huffstutler and Bonnie Callahan, friend to monster designer Jon Lackey. Originally slated for completion in late 2011, CREEP! may come in ahead of schedule much earlier in the year, owing to the enormous enthusiasm the project has received. You can watch the trailer below, and visit the film’s website here.

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  • Big trailer premiere day!

    Originally posted on 2010-09-10 15:49:00 by Allan Dart

    Previews for SAW 3D (pictured), JULIA’S EYES and PRIEST have all hit the web this morning, and you can watch ’em all after the jump.

    Yahoo Movies premiered the SAW 3D trailer. The seventh film in the Lionsgate series stars Tobin Bell, Cary Elwes, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell and Sean Patrick Flanery (who discussed the sequel with us here). Directed by SAW VI’s Kevin Greutert, SAW 3D hits theaters October 29; see Fango #297, on sale this month, for an exclusive Greutert interview.

     

     

    Collider nabbed the official trailer for Guillem Morales’ upcoming JULIA’S EYES. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, the film stars THE ORPHANAGE’s Belén Rueda as Julia, a woman suffering from a degenerative sight disease who attempts to uncover the terrifying truth about her sister’s death (see previous item here).

    Crackle got the exclusive world premiere of the official PRIEST trailer. The film will be released in 3-D on May 13 and stars Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Karl Urban, Lily Collins, Stephen Moyer and Christopher Plummer. Here’s Screen Gems’ synopsis:

    “A postapocalyptic sci-fi thriller, PRIEST is set in an alternate world—one ravaged by centuries of war between man and vampires. The story revolves around a legendary Warrior Priest from the last Vampire War who now lives in obscurity among the other downtrodden human inhabitants in walled-in dystopian cities ruled by the Church. When his niece is abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, Priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out on a quest to find her before they turn her into one of them. He is joined on his crusade by his niece’s boyfriend, a trigger-fingered young wasteland sheriff, and a former Warrior Priestess who possesses otherworldly fighting skills.”

    From Crackle: Priest

     

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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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