Archive for February, 2010

THE CRAZIES: PREMIERE PHOTOS

Posted in Events, Movies, Photo gallery with tags , , , , on February 26, 2010 by darklordbunnykins

The DLB’s going to get all Perez Hilton on you with these photos from the special Hollywood premiere of The Crazies that happened Wednesday night, but only because the studio dressed people up as Crazies and scanned guests for the Trixie virus…
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24:  Stuntman Mark Chadwick performs during the Overture screening of "The Crazies" after party held at KCET on February 24, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Overture)

The Crazies director Breck Eisner and friends

Crazies stars Timyothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell flank director Breck Eisner



MOVIE REVIEW: THE CRAZIES (2010)

Posted in Movies, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2010 by darklordbunnykins

THE CRAZIES

Starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell and Joe Anderson

Directed by Breck Eisner

Written by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright

Alliance Films

(Left to right.) Radha Mitchell and Lisa Wyatt star in Overture Films' THE CRAZIES.

Full disclosure: I haven’t seen the original version of The Crazies (1973). I have a vague recollection of trying to watch it about a decade ago and being bored stiff, to the extent that I had to stop the movie 15 minutes in for fear of having to rip my eyes out of my head. And indeed, having spoken to a friend about it in the wake of seeing this remake, he confirmed what I have heard from others: that the original is a great idea poorly executed. In other words, the perfect film to be remade.

Timothy Olyphant stars in Overture Films' THE CRAZIES.

That idea is pretty simple: the residents of Ogden Marsh, a picturesque American town, start going crazy for no ostensible reason. Soon enough, Sheriff David Dutton (Olyphant: A Perfect Getaway) and his deputy Russell Clank (Anderson: The Ruins) find their town under siege by locals infected by a mysterious virus and Hazmat-suited soldiers hoping to contain the contagion.

Working from a script written by Scott Kosar (The Machinist) and Ray Wright (Pulse), director Breck Eisner (Sahara), until recently attached to direct the Creature From the Black Lagoon remake, fulfills much of the promise of George A. Romero’s original. A solid budget means we get to see the full extent of the virus’s destructive capacity, from a downed military aircraft to a high school turned into a military operation to a devastated Ogden Marsh burning.

Radha Mitchell stars in Overture Films' THE CRAZIES.

It also helps that Eisner has such a solid cast. Olyphant and Anderson are especially strong, and although neither of their characters is particularly well fleshed out, we still empathize with their plights. And it’s always a pleasure to see Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black) in a Hollywood film.

Not surprisingly, The Crazies, like Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, jettisons most of the political underpinnings of Romero’s work. So where early-1970s concerns about environmental damage and Vietnam seemed to have informed the original Crazies, this version makes only passing reference to current anxieties about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As one soldier Dutton interrogates says regarding the killing of Ogden Marsh’s residents by the military, “This isn’t what I signed up for.”

Leaving aside that baggage, the new Crazies is a cracking horror thriller which builds genuine tension and anxiety in several great set pieces. Kudos, too, to the effects work by Robert Hall’s Almost Human studios. It’s alternately subtle and horrifying, with the infected looking genuinely sick, not just undead.

Romero purists may take affront, but like Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead, the new Crazies is simply a different take on a good idea. That’s not so crazy, is it?

Timothy Olyphant; Radha Mitchell; Danielle Panabaker; Breck Eisner

Rating: 3.5/5

NEW RUE MORGUE! COVER FOR THE MARCH ISSUE!

Posted in Art, Monsters, News, Rue Morgue with tags , , , , on February 25, 2010 by darklordbunnykins

It’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it? Can’t wait to read… especially my stuff!

Here is the summary for the March 2010 issue of Rue Morgue:

THE CREATURE INCARNATE
When Paul Naschy died this past November, he left behind a legacy of monster movies. In an exclusive 2007 interview, the actor, writer, director and producer talks about being the “Lon Chaney of Spain.”
Plus: The essential Naschy filmography, and an interview with his biographer.
by Mirek Lipinski, Shade Rupe and The Gore-met

A FATAL PORTRAIT
After more than 30 years and twenty albums, King Diamond reflects upon a legendary career as horror metal’s reigning showman. All hail!
Plus: A new documentary reveals the true face of Norwegian black metal, and more.
by Evan Davies and Trevor Tuminski

AT HOME WITH THE GROTESQUE
Veteran photo illustrator J.K. Potter has created art for many of horror fiction’s heavyweights. Join us as we dissect his beautiful mutations.
by Richard Gavin

THE GODSON OF GORE
Get ready for girls ‘n’ guts! This month sees the release of Smash Cut, Lee Demarbre’s lurid and loving tribute to Herschell Gordon Lewis.
by Phil Brown

TERRIFYING TUESDAYS: THE BOX (BLU-RAY REVIEW)

Posted in DVD, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on February 23, 2010 by darklordbunnykins

THE BOX (BLU-RAY)

Starring James Marsden, Cameron Diaz and Frank Langella

Directed by Richard Kelly

Written by Richard Kelly, based upon the Richard Matheson story “Button, Button”

Warner Home Video


Frank Langella as Arlington Steward

Someday Richard Kelly will make a great film. His first movie, Donnie Darko, became a cult hit (and one of our faves) based on its loopy story, unique ideas and a charismatic performance from a young Jake Gyllenhaal, despite its serious plot holes, while his follow-up, Southland Tales, is just a mess. Similarly, Kelly’s latest film, The Box, benefits from some great visuals and strong performances but remains flawed and just out of reach of our comprehension… enough to frustrate audiences as well as drive the determined to multiple viewings.

James Marsden as Arthur Lewis

The Box is inspired by genre vet Richard Matheson’s intriguing story “Button, Button.” The set-up is simple: a young, financially stressed couple, Norma Lewis (Diaz) and her husband Arthur (Marsden), are presented with a box with a single button on it by the horribly disfigured Arlington Steward (Langella). Steward’s proposition is simple: press the button and receive a million dollars, but if they do, someone they don’t know will die. It’s no spoiler to say that Norma presses the button and a series of odd things start to happen, prefacing a tragedy instigated by that single bad decision by good people.

Cameron Diaz as Norma Lewis

Kelly’s film benefits from both his fetishistic attention to detail (The Box is set in 1976 and looks it) and his decision to base Norma and Arthur on his parents (the featurette ‘The Box: Grounded In Reality’ includes touching interviews with Kelly’s parents) which makes Diaz and Marsden’s performances that much more resonant. The story he has teased out of Matheson’s original story (which involves water coffins, alien intelligences and a vast conspiracy), combined with details taken from his own life and that of his parents, proves both fascinating and frustrating: fascinating because the audience is always trying to figure out just what is going on and frustrating because we never do.

I saw The Box in a theatre last fall and, like the rest of my fellow moviegoers, I left feeling simultaneously confused, engaged and ultimately disappointed. The ending especially felt like an emotional betrayal based on what had gone before. (I won’t spoil it but will say that the awful fate of our protagonists did not feel true.) I was also unable to connect all the dots of plot, which left me feeling like I had missed something – a common feeling when watching Kelly’s films.

Arthur meets the water coffin

Thank God, then, for the director’s commentary track. Kelly answers many of the questions I had about his film while teasingly leaving others unanswered or only hinted at. Kelly’s strength as a writer and director is to leave just enough mystery in his films to make them enigmatic artworks worth revisiting; his weakness is in letting his ideas overwhelm his commonsense as to how much myster an audience is willing to take on.

The Box didn’t make a lot of money in theatres, meaning it’s unlikely Kelly will be able to make another big studio project anytime soon. But if he can temper his wild imagination with a loyalty to plotting, there’s little doubt that Richard Kelly will become a great director and, thus, make a great film. Until then, watch The Box, scratch your head, and don’t feel bad about not being able to exactly figure out what the hell is going on.

Rating: 3.5/5 (or 3/5 without the commentary)

BEASTLY BOOKS: HORNS BY JOE HILL

Posted in Books, Reviews with tags , , , , on February 22, 2010 by darklordbunnykins

HORNS

Joe Hill

(William Morrow)

You would think that a book about a man turning into a devil would be pure horror, but Horns, Joe Hill’s second novel, is as much drama, albeit one which uses the supernatural to deepen and amplify the story’s essentially tragic nature.

Horns begins with Iggy Parrish waking up the morning after a drunken bender to find horns growing out of his head. Almost as strange, he finds everyone he meets confessing their deepest, darkest secrets… including their real feelings about him. Iggy, you see, is generally presumed by his neighbours to have raped and murdered his long-time girlfriend Merrin the year previous; the only reason he’s still walking the streets is because his rich parents arranged for incriminating evidence to be destroyed, they assume. Soon enough, though, Ig is able to use his new powers, which include influencing the will of those around him, to find out who really killed Merrin.

Horns author Joe Hill

Hill, in case you don’t know, is Stephen King’s son, and not to belabour the fact or draw ill-informed comparisons (because I haven’t read a book by the elder King in two decades) but he has his dad’s knack for subtle characterization, black humour, moments of sickening violence , and a genuine empathy for human frailty. Fans of King’s work will appreciate his son’s writing, but it succeeds on its own merits, not simply by virtue of who his father is.

The plot of Horns revolves around not simply who murdered Merrin (we learn the killer’s identity pretty early on) but also how and why it happened, as well as its impact on Ig’s life and the life of the entire town. Hill fractures the narrative timeline and uses Ig’s ability to know everything about a person by simply touching them to reconstruct what exactly happened that ill-fated night. But the circumstances of Merrin’s death, of course, are complex, coloured by misunderstanding, self-interest and guilt depending upon whose version of events we are being subjected to. The result is a Rashomon-style retelling of events which turns out to be far more than a simple crime of passion.

The plot’s driver – we continue to read after discovering who killed Merrin because we want to see Ig’s revenge – soon enough becomes secondary to our interest in finding out what will become of Ig. With each page turned, Ig’s transformation into an actual devil progresses. There’s also a metaphorical transformation occurring and it’s sickly fascinating to follow along.

Horns contains its fair share of grisly images and acts of violence, but Joe Hill is not Stephen King. There be monsters here, but Horns is primarily about the darkest corners of the human heart, shining a light into the places in our minds that no one wants to acknowledged.

I guess that is horror, isn’t it?

DESPICABLE DVDS: FREEWAY KILLER (2010)

Posted in DVD, Movies, Reviews, Serial Killers with tags , , , , on February 17, 2010 by darklordbunnykins

FREEWAY KILLER

Starring Scott Anthony Leet, Cole Williams and Dusty Sorg

Directed by John Murlowski

Written by David Birke

E1 Entertainment


Low budget movies based on the exploits of real-life serial killers don’t tend to attract the finest talents. (I’m looking at you, Ulli Lommel.) So the fact that Freeway Killer, while not a revelation, is far from the abortion it could have been came as a welcome relief.

For the record, the Freeway Killer was one William Bonin. Born in 1947, he was raised by a gambler father and alcoholic mother who would leave him in the company of his pedophile uncle. Teenage mischief led Bonin into juvenile detention where he was raped by the older boys. After a stint in Vietnam, he found himself in and out of jail for years, having evinced a penchant for kidnapping and sexually assaulting young men. Taking a job as a truck driver, he found himself in California where his predilections escalated to several rape-murders, all of young men, often with the aid of his accomplice, Vernon Butts, by all descriptions an odd young man who described himself as a wizard. Bonin’s killing spree, with Butts and other accomplices, finally ended in 1980 when a tip led police to Bonin, who was apprehended while trying to murder another young man. Sixteen years after his arrest, in 1996, Bonin was finally executed – the first prisoner in America to die by lethal injection.

Freeway Killer presents Bonin (Leet) in the midst of his rampage, comfortable with his accomplice Butts (Sorg). But their odd, symbiotic friendship/romance is thrown off kilter when Bonin picks up wayward youth Kyle (Williams) and, instead of killing him, decides to introduce him to his murderous lifestyle. This ménage à trois marks the beginning of the end of Bonin’s crime spree as he spirals into ever greater murderous rages until he finds himself in the sights of a detective (Michael Rooker: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer).

The real William Bonin

While its budget prevents Freeway Killer from looking period, the strength of its performances makes it authentically worth watching (despite its current 4.7/10 rating on the IMDb). Leet evinces a slimy, evil grin, and is considerably more handsome than the real-life Bonin, but makes for an interesting villain. His recruitment of like-minded, sordid souls is believable given his charisma and overwhelming attitude. And kudos to Dusty Sorg for his well-rounded performance as Butts; we don’t exactly sympathize with this strange, sick man, but the fact that we almost do, given his crimes, is worthy of praise. Genre vet Michael Rooker’s turn as the detective who captures Bonin is particularly welcome, especially given his own landmark portrait of killer Henry Lee Lucas in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

What the movie soft pedals, perhaps to make it more palatable to a wider audience, is Bonin’s homosexuality. There’s an overt homoerotic vibe to the man’s relationships with both his victims and his accomplices – we get what Bonin’s about even if it’s never stated or seen – and we never see him rape his victim. (Thank heavens for small mercies, perhaps.) The female hitchhiker on the DVD cover art, though, is misleading, as Bonin never targeted female victims.

Screenwriter David Burke has written a couple of other serial killer films (2003’s Gacy and 2002’s Dahmer), and he does Bonin justice as a character. Perhaps trying to humanize a monster is immoral, but Burke does manage to make Bonin real – albeit sick, twisted and reprehensible. That may be a bad thing, but he has done it well.

Rating: 3.5/5

MACABRE MUSIC: Rammstein at Rock in Rio-Lisboa 2010

Posted in Concerts, Events, Music, News with tags , , , , , , on February 17, 2010 by darklordbunnykins

PRESS RELEASE:

German rock stars will fire up the City of Rock

Rammstein at Rock in Rio-Lisboa 2010

Lisbon, February 17th 2010 – The organization of Rock in Rio-Lisbon has just confirmed Rammstein’s upcoming appearance at the largest music and entertainment event of the world. The internationally most successful German band of today will fire-up the World Stage on a day dedicated to heavy rock fans.

Formed in Berlin in 1994, two–time Grammy nominee Rammstein has managed what few German bands can claim to have done: be successful outside of the country singing in German! The live concerts, which join a strong theatrical component to impressive visual and pyrotechnic effects, making their performances captivating for everyone, is one of the explanations for their worldwide success.

The industrial rock band launched their first album “Herzeleid” in 1995, followed by “Sehnsucht” (1997), the project which launched them internationally, “Mutter” (2001), “Reise, Reise” (2004) and “Rosenrot” (2005).

After selling out at Pavilhão Atlântico, Rammstein returns to Portugal to present “Liebe Ist Für Alle Da”, the sixth studio album, no. 1 in Germany among others and in multiple top-10 charts across Europe. Rammstein consider this album to be a genuine product of democracy in the band, where all points of views and ideas are considered until they fit the very personal style that fans recognize.

The public can expect high energy levels at the World Stage, knowing Rammstein’s reputation as masters of live orchestrated chaos!

Rock in Rio-Lisboa’s Official Website: www.rockinrio-lisboa.sapo.pt

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