• Exclusive bloody “MIRRORS 2″ clip & screening reminder!

    Originally posted on 2010-09-16 17:12:12 by FANGORIA Staff

    There’s an angry ghost on the loose, and FANGORIA has nabbed an exclusive clip from the upcoming Fox release MIRRORS 2. Go below the jump to see what happens when you can’t stomach your own reflected image!

    Now that we whet your appetite, let us remind you that Fango will be hosting a free screening of MIRRORS 2 at the Cinema Village (22 East 12th Street, off University Place) on Monday, October 4 at 7 p.m. The new film, due out on DVD and Blu-ray October 19 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, follows the troubled Max (TERMINATOR 3’s Nick Stahl), who is recovering from a traumatic accident and takes a job as a nighttime security guard. Similar to the unfortunate Kiefer Sutherland in the previous film directed by Alexandre Aja, Max begins to see visions in the store’s mirror of a young woman who had been murdered there. Embarking on a gruesome rampage, the mysterious ghost stalks the men and women responsible for her horrific death one by one, exacting bloody revenge.

    Directed by Spanish filmmaker Victor Garcia (RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL and the short EL CICLO) and written by Matt Venne (MASTERS OF HORROR, FEAR ITSELF, WHITE NOISE 2), MIRRORS 2 also stars HOUSE’s William Katt, SAW II’s Emmanuelle Vaugier and Christy Carlson Romano. You can see the trailer in our previous item here

    The Fango MIRRORS 2 screening will be a free show; to obtain tickets, send an e-mail to fangoscreening@starloggroup.com. You must list “MIRRORS” as your subject line. Offer is good for you and one guest. Plus tell us your full name and whether you want to be added to the FANGORIA newsletter list so we can inform you about future Fango screenings and events. Names will be checked at the door. Offer is first come, first served, and we will confirm your RSVP. Seating is not guaranteed, however. This advance preview is sponsored by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. 

    So mark your calendar for the October 4 screening of MIRRORS 2! And watch this space for an upcoming preview of the film and news of more Fango events. See you at the show!


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  • FANGORIA Brings Horror to Cell Phones/iPads

    Originally posted on 2010-09-16 16:45:55 by Bekah McKendry

    This Halloween FANGORIA magazine will be releasing a brand new app that allows users to read back issues of FANGORIA, the original GOREZONE and FANGORIA Comics, all from their cell phone, ipad, or Droid. FANGORIA has teamed up with iVerse Media, who work with many leading comic and cult media, to make sure this app is ready for release late next month. The app will debut with a free download of a past issue of FANGORIA, as well as several free comics.

    The Fango app will let users browse though a list of titles/issues and purchase editions for immediate reading. All of the magazines and comics will be specifically-formatted for the iPhone and iPad screen (Droid coming in December), allowing users to enjoy FANGORIA without zooming or scrolling; the only necessary action will be flicking, which will move from one panel/page to the next. The user interface will be very similar to holding the print copy. Once downloaded, a selected issue will open up with that issue’s cover. A flick of the finger will bring up a table of contents allowing the user to select where in the magazine they’d like to go. In terms of appearance, the app will have a true FANGORIA feel to it so that a reader of the print version will feel right at home looking at the digital edition. Also within the app will be links that can take the user to the FANGORIA website and online store. The FANGORIA Twitter feed can also be linked into the app, giving the user up to the minute horror news updates.

    iVerse Media LLC is a digital media company focused on providing simple digital content delivery solutions to the world of print media. Located in Waco, TX, iVerse powers the popular Comics+ comic book reader app, as well as standalone apps for properties such as Archie, Transformers and G.I. Joe. “We are extremely excited about our new partnership with FANGORIA,” says Iverse Media CEO Michael Murphey. “FANGORIA has extremely loyal fans around the world, and we look forward to providing them a great digital reading experience.”

    Stay tuned for more details on the FANGORIA app.



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  • “PARADISE” is “LOST” in 3D

    Originally posted on 2010-09-16 16:21:39 by Samuel Zimmerman

    Move over John Milton’s literary elegance, this shit is getting 3D-ified! PARADISE LOST is being adapted for film, hit the jump to find out who’s directing!

    Variety reports that the underrated Alex Proyas (the magnificent DARK CITY) has signed on to direct the film based on Milton’s 17th Century epic poem about the war in heaven between archangels Michael and Lucifer. Apparently, it “will be crafted as an action vehicle that will include aerial warfare, possibly shot in 3D”. Legendary Pictures is backing.

    Keep an eye on Fango for more on this as it develops. 

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  • Tony Timpone’s Elegies: Fall Frights, Part One

    Originally posted on 2010-09-16 16:16:07 by Tony Timpone

    I recently caught the new PIRANHA 3D at a local theater (with only three other people in the audience!), and what impressed me the most, besides PIRANHA’s nude lesbian underwater ballet scene, was the plethora of trailers for upcoming horror movies debuting this fall: RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE, CASE 39, MY SOUL TO TAKE, LET ME IN, etc. In the lobby, the long walls of the multiplex were filled with one-sheet posters for more fright flicks: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, SAW 3D, BURIED… From now through the end of October, prepare to be scared. Besides over a dozen major theatrical feature movies rolling out, ’tis the season for: horror film festivals from coast to coast; classic repertory revivals (happy 50th, PSYCHO); endless monster movie marathons on cable; terror TV series returning (SUPERNATURAL, DEXTER, FRINGE) and beginning (THE WALKING DEAD. Nuff said); and DVD debuts (the FANGORIA FrightFest hits everywhere September 28) will join the competition for our Halloween attention. As I’ve said before, can you think of any better time to be a horror fan? But will this embarrassment of riches, specifically movie-wise, cancel each other out? Is there a big enough horror audience out there to support, for example, HATCHET II, CASE 39 and LET ME IN all opening on the same day?! Will the box office be so divided that no one emerges as true financial victor and all the rival pictures cancel each other out? This fall could really be a Halloween bloodbath in more ways than one.

    Certainly last weekend’s RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE got things off to a strong start, with the 3-D sequel taking in a franchise record north of $26 million (the hiked ticket prices helped). I enjoyed the fourth film more than the last two; it’s popcorn-munching, action-packed fun, albeit instantly forgettable. This Friday Drew & John Erick Dowdle’s DEVIL hopes to knock RESIDENT EVIL from it perch. The movie comes from the mind of, ahem, writer/producer M. Night Shyamalan, who envisions DEVIL as the first in a series of low-cost genre fare he dubs the Night Chronicles. Hard to believe how far the director has fallen from the Oscar-nominated heights of THE SIXTH SENSE to the unwatchable lows of THE LAST AIRBENDER and THE HAPPENING. But after checking out DEVIL’s trailer, I’m willing to give the movie—about five people trapped in an elevator, with one of them being Satan—a shot. It could play out like a paranoid, suspenseful TWILIGHT ZONE-esque spinetingler if the Dowdles (of QUARANTINE) steer this one right and the film overcomes its unfortunate Shyamalan stigma. Check out our interview with DEVIL star Bokeem Woodbine right here.

    Lionsgate scored at the summer box office with THE EXPENDABLES and THE LAST EXORCISM (the latter sunk PIRANHA at theater turnstiles), and this fall the indie company digs up BURIED. The thriller, about a man (Ryan Reynolds) entombed alive with only 90 minutes of oxygen, has won rave reviews at festivals and is expected to be a major sleeper. Directed by Spaniard Rodrigo Cortés, BURIED will be exhumed September 24 in limited release, before going wider on October 8. IRREVERSIBLE director Gaspar Noé’s ENTER THE VOID, about a man’s hallucinogenic afterlife experience, also opens on Sept. 24 in a few key cities (and VOD) from IFC Films. Expect the same kind of controversy and critical split that greeted the French provocateur’s previous efforts. And if you’ve never seen THE EXORCIST on the big screen, check it out on September 30 (one night only; see here for theaters) for a special theatrical showing to jumpstart interest in the looming Blu-ray launch the following week. THE EXORCIST has lost none of its infernal punch.

    On October 1, three—count ’em, three—major fear films assault theaters. Of course, most of us are a little reluctant to embrace LET ME IN, the English language remake of the Swedish masterpiece LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, one of the best genre films ever. I thought the original Tomas Alfredson directed movie, based on the John Ajvide Lindqvist novel, would be untouchable. But now we have an English version, written and directed by CLOVERFIELD’s Matt Reeves, brought to us by Overture Films (who gave us the superior redux of THE CRAZIES) and a reborn Hammer Films. The plot follows that of its predecessor very closely, about a lonely boy who falls for a vampire girl. The casting of LET ME IN couldn’t be better: THE ROAD’s Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Grace Moretz of KICK-ASS, the latter one of my favorite movies of the year, as the lovesick kids, plus Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins and busy character actor Elias Koteas (CRASH, SKINWALKERS, THE PROPHECY, THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT, SHUTTER ISLAND—the guy’s in everything!) also turn up in key roles. 

    Despite high expectations, both Fango managing editor Michael Gingold (see his review here) and contributing editor Sam Zimmerman give thumb’s up to the remake, largely due to the skillful work of Reeves and his fidelity to the brilliant source material. You can count me in for LET ME IN.

    The big news about HATCHET II, also opening on October 1, is that it will be going out unrated and uncut—and in more theaters than any non-MPAA-approved film in decades. No token playdates here. Bugged by the spotty releases of his first HATCHET and FROZEN, writer/director (and indefatigable self-promoter) Adam Green has a huge grassroots campaign going to get butts into seats in his bid to make slasher Victor Crowley (fearsome Kane Hodder) a name worthy of the ranks of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. If gorehounds want to see more ’80s-style splatter on the big screen, they should run to their local AMC (see list here) next month. Though I felt it unfairly overshadowed the superior (and more subversive) BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON, I liked the original HATCHET, so I’ll be watching the next round of dismemberments in all their uncensored gory glory. Kudos to distribs Dark Sky and Vitagraph, as well as the AMC chain, for taking the chance. 

    If there’s any box office left during the October 1st weekend, the long delayed (shot in 2006!) CASE 39 will finally make its debut from Paramount Vantage. The movie stars Renée Zellweger as a social worker caring for a young girl (creepy Jodelle Ferland of SILENT HILL and ECLIPSE) who exhibits supernatural powers (shades of BLESS THE CHILD? Hope not!). Though backed by a snazzy marketing campaign and now able to brag about having THE HANGOVER’s Bradley Cooper in it cast, it will still be an uphill battle for a movie that, just months ago, seemed destined to go direct to DVD. I’ve dug the work of CASE 39 director Christian Alvart (ANTIBODIES and last fall’s flop PANDORUM, the latter lensed after CASE 39!) before, so perhaps this isn’t the lemon some have feared. Moreover, international response to CASE 39 has been encouraging, which prompted the studio to take the film off the shelf. But why send it out, like an unwanted stepchild, into a crowded fall marketplace? 

    Another eight genre movies will open in the weeks after the October 1 trifecta. I’ll talk about them next time. 


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  • “CORN” fields a cast

    Originally posted on 2010-09-16 15:59:55 by Allan Dart

    In another move to legally retain the rights to a popular horror franchise, Dimension is pushing forward with a CHILDREN OF THE CORN sequel. Yesterday, it was announced that HOSTEL’s Barbara Nedeljakova was on board the rushed-into-production project, and today more casting news has hit the web.

    Moviehole says that THE HILLS HAVE EYES’ Billy Drago, Kelen Coleman and Tim Rock will be in writer/director Joel Soisson’s CHILDREN OF THE CORN: THE DWELLER. Soisson produced 2001’s CHILDREN OF THE CORN: REVELATION and last directed PULSE 3 for Dimension. In THE DWELLER, Coleman and Rock play a couple who fall under the thrall of Drago and Nedejakova’s characters—and their “Corn” kid. Production is now underway in Louisiana.

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  • “CORN” fields a cast

    Originally posted on 2010-09-16 15:59:01 by Allan Dart

    In another move to legally retain the rights to a popular horror franchise, Dimension is pushing forward with a CHILDREN OF THE CORN sequel. Yesterday, it was announced that HOSTEL’s Barbara Nedeljakova was on board the rushed-into-production project, and today more casting news has hit the web.

    Moviehole says that THE HILLS HAVE EYES’ Billy Drago, Kelen Coleman and Tim Rock will be in writer/director Joel Soisson’s CHILDREN OF THE CORN: THE DWELLER. Soisson produced 2001’s CHILDREN OF THE CORN: REVELATION and last directed PULSE 3 for Dimension. In THE DWELLER, Coleman and Rock play a couple who fall under the thrall of Drago and Nedejakova’s characters—and their “Corn” kid. Production is now underway in Louisiana.

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  • Bokeem Woodbine Rides with the “DEVIL”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-16 15:51:48 by Samuel Zimmerman

    This Friday, DEVIL, the Dowdle Brothers follow-up to QUARANTINE and THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES, will be unleashed in theaters under M. Night Shyamalan’s Night Chronicles banner. While relatively little is known, the plot revolves around five strangers caught in an elevator, with one of them not exactly who they say they are. Actor Bokeem Woodbine (BLACK DYNAMITE, THE BREED, DEAD PRESIDENTS) essays one such stranger and spoke to Fango about the film, his role and why people just may be wrong about Shyamalan.

    FANGORIA: When you were first cast in DEVIL, were you told from the outset it would all be heavily kept underwraps? Is it hard containing all of that?

    BOKEEM WOODBINE: I had to sign a non-disclosure for the first time in my career so that was an indicator that maybe this was something special and to this day my tongue is held. It’s not hard keeping the secret. The challenge is in wanting people to know. I want people to see what happens and I want people to be excited by the twists and turns. The challenging part is waiting to go into the theater with my baseball cap and sitting in the back and seeing how the fans react. That’s hard. 

    FANG: Do you think people will be genuinely surprised by the movie?

    WOODBINE: People are going to be floored. I don’t think anybody’s gonna get it until it’s revealed. That’s one of the most exciting parts of the picture. It’s a total mystery and I’ve seen some cuts of it, and even though I know what’s going to happen, I’m still surprised.

    FANG: This is the first film we’re seeing from the Dowdles that’s non-POV or first person. How do you think they handled themselves with a more traditional narrative? Were you comfortable in their hands? 

    WOODBINE: One of the many great things about working with the Dowdles is that they give you an indie feel. They give you a sense that you actually have a say in the production. They make you feel like you’re part of the moviemaking process and not just a prop to be put here and there like a lot of directors. They totally respect actors, they respect what we do and they definitely made us feel included. It was like a team effort, so it was almost like working on an indie picture but with money. It was amazing because they’re not going to take all your suggestions. Some stuff, they’ll shoot it right down, but some of my lines were completely ad-libbed and I didn’t think they would make the cut, and then I’m watching a cut and some of the things I said off the top of my head were in the movie. It made me feel part of the creative process, and I feel like I was part of the movie in the sense that I felt like I was part of DEAD PRESIDENTS or POKER HOUSE or some of the other more independent stuff that I’ve done where even after it’s shot, years later, I still feel like it’s my movie. I was part of that. And I don’t feel like that with everything, but I feel like that with DEVIL.

    FANG: Are you a fan of horror and genre films? 

    WOODBINE: You know what, I’m not. I’m just going to be honest and put that on the table. I like to see the art of say, Sam Raimi. He’s an artist, but not everybody’s an artist. A lot of these cats get a little bit of change and they just want to chop off arms and legs. But there’s an art to that, and a cat like Sam Raimi is an artist. I’ll watch any movie he does. But a lot of the newer generation, they just don’t do it for me. Horror at its best is John Carpenter, Sam Raimi. Alfred Hitchcock did some horrifying shit, that’s horror, the fear of not necessarily the unknown, but the fear of the known. PSYCHO, you know what’s coming. That’s some scary shit. He’s stabbing you while you’re in the shower. That’s you at your most vulnerable; that, or using the restroom, or having sex. Nowadays, a lot of these cats don’t understand how to scare people. They think you throw a lot of blood around, you got a nice effect with somebody’s head coming off…it isn’t real horror to me. I defer to the old school. 

    FANG: So what was it about DEVIL that grabbed you? 

    WOODBINE: The psychology. The psychology behind the concept of five people who would never normally interact with each other, who are forced to not only interact but try to get through this harrowing experience. That blew me away, and that has to do in part with growing up in New York and then moving to Los Angeles and the juxtaposition between the two worlds and trying to make sense of Los Angeles. Everybody stays in their cars, it’s a very socially disparate place; this culture stays in this neighborhood, that culture stays in their neighborhood. That’s not how I grew up. I grew up in more of a mixture. So thinking about five people who wouldn’t necessarily interact under normal circumstances and are forced to, that really appealed to me because of my experiences living in LA where everything’s so separated. 

    FANG: The characters in the film are the opposite of separated. What was it like shooting in that tight of a space? 

    WOODBINE: It was challenging because the locale was the same everyday. I’m used to set changes and location moves and for this picture, I knew where I was going to be everyday. What made it easier was the cast. I would work with anybody in this cast again, in an instant. Be it Geoffrey [Arend], Bojana [Novakovic], Logan [Marshall-Green], Jenny [O’Hara]. I’d work with any of them in a heartbeat. Not only did they bring their A-game, but they’re very likeable people. And when you’re in a situation like that, a tight space, it pays to wear deodorant, no [laughs], it pays to be with people who are likeable and I like all of them. Even though it was challenging, it was a little bit easier because of who I was in the elevator with. 

    FANG: What was the technical setup of the elevator between you five, crew and camera? 

    WOODBINE: It was a lot of moving walls, it was a lot of no ceilings and we had a great DP in Tak Fujimoto. He is way ahead of his time. He found ways to get the camera in there. There were certain setups where I’d come to set and be like, “That’s where you’re putting the camera, Tak?!” When you see it, you’ll see. He got some crazy angles out of that. They made it work. 

    FANG: You’ve likened some of the film to your experience moving across the country and the idea of unexpected interactions. Does some of the film have to do with getting five people who wouldn’t normally interact, and this Devil turning them on each other through their differences? 

    WOODBINE: What’s so interesting about this picture is that they showed in reality when there’s a crisis situation, a lot of that shit goes out the window. They never dwell too much on the fact that they have a young woman, a white man, a cat of mixed origin, a black man and an older woman. They never really emphasize it because if something were to happen right now and the ground were to fall out, if I could help you out, I’d help you out and I’d like to think the same of you. I would never stop to think, “Oh, this cat is from wherever.” I would just be, “Oh, he needs a helping hand.” It’s only the most ignorant that cling to their brainwashed ways, or their racism, or sexism, or whatever their –ism is. I’ve been in situations with strangers where they don’t care what color you are, they just try to help you out. So the movie actually highlighted that the problems never really come from that, they come from whatever’s going on. 

    FANG: That’s nice to hear because often those things can feel lazy because it’s just an easy point of conflict. 

    WOODBINE: Absolutely, I think the Dowdles and M. Night had a lot to do with that. 

    FANG: Can you talk a bit about Shyamalan’s involvement on the film and the interactions you had with him? 

    WOODBINE: M. Night was one of those producers who was a gracious host. A lot of times, a producer comes on set, you’ll see actors like roaches scurrying back to their trailers. Nobody wants to hang out with the producer. You never know what they’re going to say or what’s going to happen when they come on the set. It was the opposite with M. Night. He set the tone early on because not only did he get everybody together and hang out on a social level, but he also took the time to talk to each one of us individually and say, “This is what I’m looking for.” In my experience, because I don’t know what anybody else’s was, in the conversation we had he said, “Look, you could fake this, you’re a charming guy, you’ve got charisma, you could pretty much walk through this if you want to but if you try that, I’m gonna know and I’m gonna call you on it and that’s not a good thing. I need you to bring your A-game.” I was planning on bringing my A-game anyway, but when you get in a room and it’s just you and M. Night and he tells you to bring your A-game, you’re gonna do it. So that was my interaction with him and it wasn’t out of the ordinary for him to give a call a couple of times throughout the shooting and just be like, “Hey, I’ve been watching the dailies, you’re not being lazy, keep it up.” He was a benevolent dictator.

    FANG: Do you feel you’re prone to laziness if not pushed?

    WOODBINE: Never, the thing is, only certain directors care enough. You can fool anybody. I’ve worked on some pictures where I didn’t necessarily love the character, I didn’t necessarily love the project as a whole but I had to pay bills and those are the kind of pictures that ultimately, you’re not that crazy about. But when you have a good director who cares about his project, he cares about his project even more than you care about your role, and those are the directors that’ll push you to find those things that you normally wouldn’t. I don’t consider myself lazy. I consider myself very hard working but sometimes a little under challenged. So it takes your Forest Whitaker, or the Hughes Brothers or the Dowdles, or M. Night, or a David Mamet script, or a Taylor Hackford, or the late Ted Demme. Even Michael Bay will bring some stuff out of you if you listen to him. It takes a certain director to pay enough attention because sometimes you don’t even know that you’re taking it easy on yourself. You might think that you’re bringing 100 percent but it takes a director who really cares about his project to look at you and look at his vision and say, “You know what, you’ve got to go deeper.” And I imagine it’s a hard thing for them to do because they’re chasing the light, they’ve got a certain amount of film they can and can’t shoot, but the ones who really care will find a way to get the best performance out of you. 

    FANG: Did the tension of the film and the tight space ever spill over into real life between you and your co-stars? 

    WOODBINE: Man, we all dug each other so much it was disgusting, and they’re going to tell you the same thing. We got along too well. It was gross. There was never any tension, it was more like, I got your back, you got my back and even if there are times when we might be at odds with each other, it never comes into real life. It’s so corny, but we were very caring of one another. Whatever tension exists on screen, as soon as they said cut, it was gone. 

    FANG: Currently, Shyamalan’s reputation kind of precedes himself. Are you worried about that hurting the film in any way? 

    WOODBINE: I never thought about that to tell you the truth. When you make a picture, it’s going to be what it is. It’s out of my hands at this point. I don’t think it will affect this film negatively because—and I’m not saying this because I’m in it—this is a really dynamite picture. I’ve been in a couple of pictures and this one is really, really good. If anything, anyone who might have something negative to say about Night, they’re going to have to eat their words. I hate to say it, but there’s going to be a lot of people who have to swallow their pride and just give it up because we brought the business with this one. 

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  • “DISTURBIA” screenwriter has “GOOSEBUMPS”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-16 15:12:33 by Allan Dart

    R.L. Stine’s popular kids’ horror book series is being turned into a feature film by the scribe who co-wrote both the LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and RED DAWN remakes.

    Risky Business reports that Carl Ellsworth (who also penned Wes Craven’s RED EYE) has come aboard to write the screenplay for a live-action feature adaptation of GOOSEBUMPS for Columbia. I AM LEGEND’s Neal Moritz is producing through his Original Film banner with Deborah Forte of Scholastic Entertainment.

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  • Unrated trailer for “HATCHET II”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-16 14:43:51 by Allan Dart

    The sequel is hitting theaters unrated October 1 at select AMC theaters. Take a look at this clip of Victor Crowley’s sanguinary slaughters after the jump.

    IGN landed the trailer. Here’s the synopsis for the film:

    “Adam Green’s HATCHET II picks up at the exact moment that 2006’s HATCHET ends, wherein the quiet but hot-tempered Marybeth (Danielle Harris) is in a small boat in the Louisiana swamps, screaming for her life as she tries to free herself from the clutches of the deformed, swamp-dwelling killer Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). Crowley has murdered Marybeth’s family and other fellow vacationers who had come together on a tourist excursion in the swamplands outside of New Orleans. 

    Marybeth escapes from Crowley and manages to make it back to civilization, where she once again encounters voodoo shop proprietor Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd), who had helped to arrange Marybeth and company’s earlier, ill-fated tour of the area. To help Marybeth and also serve his own secret agenda, Reverend Zombie recruits a hardened pack of hunters to head back into the swamp to seek revenge on Victor Crowley.”

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  • “INSIDIOUS” (TIFF Film Review)

    Originally posted on 2010-09-16 05:28:26 by Chris Alexander

    As a lifelong horror-film enthusiast, I am forever chasing the dragon for the almighty fright. As you age and the divides between fantasy and reality become sadly concrete, it’s very difficult to totally suspend your disbelief and immerse yourself in the supernatural, to have films about “things” from the ether affect you. But oh, how you want them to.

    Having just exited a Toronto International Film Festival screening of director/editor James Wan’s latest straight-up genre film, INSIDIOUS, feeling weak in the knees yet exhilarated, I’m overjoyed to report that Wan, once again working from a script by SAW partner Leigh Whannell, did it. He got me. He brought me back to that sweet, shuddery dark place I cowered in as a kid, where anything was possible, when I believed in the monster in the freaking closet or under the bed and when I was afraid to fall asleep, because I might get trapped in one of those abstract recurring nightmares that jolted me awake in the dead of night with tears in my eyes and my heart pounding in my tiny chest. The ones that, when the day came, made me glad of it—and I would then go and draw the “things” I saw in my sleep, tell people about them and try to find others who had similar experiences.

    Which is why I’m now sitting in a café, clacking away at my laptop and feverishly trying to belch out a review of the film. I want horror fans to know that there is a picture out there that genuinely cares about craft, that desires to give you those old-fashioned spectral scares, to shake your spine and terrify you, but still ensure that—when the lights come up—you walk out inspired, not battered down by the terror on screen. INSIDIOUS is that film, a work of pure Gothic imagination and wonky dread. It’s like entering one of those rickety carnival haunted-house rides that whip you around, that trot out the “things” that scream bells in your ears and reveal some new dark horror around every whiplash-inducing turn…

    OK, I’ll slow down. The plot.

    Real-deal actors Rose Byrne from 28 WEEKS LATER and HARD CANDY’s Patrick Wilson—it always helps to have good actors anchoring a phantasmagoria like this—star as a lovely middle-class couple who move their three children into a beautiful old detached Victorian home to start a new life. As mom vainly attempts to work on her music compositions while minding her infant daughter, her middle child has an accident in the attic and falls into a mysterious coma. Months pass, and not a single medical professional can determine why this darling little boy refuses to wake up. And yet slowly, surely, “things” start to appear. Ghosts. Monsters. Bumps and screams in the night. Harsh whispers on the baby monitor. Bloody handprints on the bedsheets. Driven past the point of comfort by these unexplained phenomena, the family moves house—only to discover that the “things” have followed them…

    To reveal more would be to kill the midsection hiccup that turns INSIDIOUS from an elegant, serious-minded, creepy-as-all-hell ghost story into a very strange, eccentric POLTERGEIST-by-way-of-Roman-Polanski supernatural drama, and then into a full-blown Mario Bava soaked spookshow freak-out. Wan has sculpted an immaculate, imaginative and completely unpretentious genre work that delivers the goods in an offbeat, unique way—but of course, that’s to be expected. SAW was familiar yet original, an amalgam of classic pulp and contemporary tech. Same with the underrated DEAD SILENCE and the even more underrated vigilante epic DEATH SENTENCE. With INSIDIOUS, I can now proudly proclaim James Wan to be a major master of horror. An old-world craftsman who lets sound and music (right from the opening credits, we’re not only watching the film but listening to it) propel his prowling camerawork and meticulously timed jump scares. The man seems to love what he does, and that passion for the macabre drifted through the theater like the relentless dry-ice mist that smothers the film’s last reel.

    Sure, there are a few narrative glitches and a couple of stumbles of silly dialogue, but Leigh Whannell’s script is otherwise sound. And with a visual and aural palette this rich and a tone this terrifying, as a horror fan (many of whom are, let’s face it, more than a bit jaded), you must allow yourself to overlook those trivial flaws.

    I’ll leave you with this: there was a moment in INSIDIOUS where—I swear to God—my blood chilled. I felt it. I breathed in deep and my damn blood turned cold. And I honestly cannot remember when this has ever happened to me.

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  • “THE WARD” (TIFF Film Review)

    Originally posted on 2010-09-16 05:22:49 by Adam Nayman

    The best evidence that THE WARD (which premiered this week at the Toronto International Film Festival) was directed by John Carpenter is that his name is above the title. It’s certainly not on the screen; working from a maladroit script by Sean and Michael Rasmussen, Carpenter—who hasn’t made a feature since 2001’s deliriously silly genre mashup GHOSTS OF MARS—directs like a journeyman rather than an auteur.

    It just doesn’t seem like his heart is in this haunted-asylum story, which stars Amber Heard as a disturbed young woman admitted into a psychiatric hospital after burning down a stranger’s home for no apparent reason. No prizes for guessing that the motives for this supremely photogenic act of arson will be unraveled over the film’s duration.

    The clichés just keep on coming: Heard’s new digs are staffed by nasty nurses (of both genders) and presided over by an obviously sleazy head psychiatrist (Jared Harris); the other inmates comprise a cross-section of troubled-girl types (Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie Gummer is the most ostentatiously bugged-out); and, as in virtually every horror movie produced since 2000, there’s a long-haired, wraith-like female apparition that spends her time popping into frame like Andy Samberg in an SNL Digital Short (except that her appearances aren’t funny on purpose).

    I’m not trying to be nasty to Carpenter, whose relegation to the Hollywood margins around the mid-’80s was undeserved, and who has the talent to pull off memorable horror on a relative shoestring (see 1994’s Lovecraftian pastiche IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, with its great Sam Neill performance and handful of sharp, honest scares). The problem with THE WARD is not so much its lack of style as the fact that the director doesn’t seem to have much interest in the material: not in the plight of his female characters, whose ensemble interactions are strained even as their individual personalities are admirably vivid; not in the institutional environment, which feels borrowed from any number of snake-pit dramas; and certainly not in what ends up being the movie’s theme/organizing gimmick, which I will not spoil here but which really could have used a hambone like Donald Pleasance to explicate with the right level of campy conviction. (The reveal, when it comes, is one of the worst-handled aspects of the film).

    There are surely worse horror movies coming out these days than THE WARD—but considering the context of its creation, I can’t think of one that’s more disappointing.

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  • “BEST WORST MOVIE” DVD/digital release details

    Originally posted on 2010-09-16 04:35:47 by

    After a successful tour of numerous festivals and theatrical bookings over the past two years, BEST WORST MOVIE is coming home. Michael Paul Stephenson’s documentary about the creation of TROLL 2 will be available on DVD and other digital platforms November 16.

    New Video will be releasing the movie under its Docurama Films banner, allowing more bad-movie fans to view Stephenson’s chronicle of his experiences as the child star of Claudio Fragasso’s notorious non-sequel. Via interviews with Fragasso and most of TROLL 2’s cast (most notably star/dentist George Hardy), and footage of the movie’s nationwide revival screenings nearly two decades after its video debut, he focuses on how a movie he once regarded as an embarrassment turned into a cult favorite. The disc will include the following extras:

    • Over an hour of deleted scenes and interviews

    • Fan contributions, including music videos and mashup trailers

    • Filmmaker Q&A with Creative Screenwriting magazine

    • A “provocative message” from TROLL 2’s Goblin Queen, Deborah Reed

    Retail price is $19.95. TROLL 2 itself will not be included, but it is being given its solo DVD and Blu-ray debuts by MGM/Fox Home Entertainment October 5. See our review of BEST WORST MOVIE here and Stephenson’s early comments about the DVD supplements here. You can find BEST WORST MOVIE’s official website here and Facebook page here.

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