Archive for Horror

FRIGHTENING FESTIVALS: FANTASIA 2010 HINTS AT EVIL EVENTS

Posted in Concerts, Events, History, Movies, Music, News, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2010 by darklordbunnykins

One of the greatest experiences a fan of genre cinema can have is traveling to Montreal for the FanTasia film festival. Each year Mitch David and his crew program dozens of amazing films from all around the world in the realms of sci-fi, cult weirdness, action, Asian and, of course, horror. This year’s schedule is still weeks away, but the FanTasia press office just announced a few special events and screenings.

Brigitte Helm as Maria

From the press release:

THE COMPLETE METROPOLIS – A GALA EVENT AT PLACE DES ARTS

Seldom has the rediscovery of a cache of lost footage ignited widespread curiosity as did the announcement, in July 2008, that an essentially complete copy of Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS had been found. This prompted an incredible year-long restoration project, the results of which will be unveiled for the first time in Quebec this summer, at Fantasia. Featuring over 25 minutes of new material (1,257 shots, including entire new sequences), the complete METROPOLIS will be screened as a special gala event at the 3000-seat Wilfred Pelletier theatre in Place des Arts on July 28. For this special night, internationally renowned silent film composer Gabriel Thibaudeau is writing a new score for the feature, which he will perform with a 13-piece orchestra live at the screening. It will be a fantastically historical night in every sense of the word!

Notes on the music for Fantasia’s METROPOLIS event by Gabriel Thibaudeau:

“For the last 22 years I have been resident pianist and composer for the Cinematheque québécoise. METROPOLIS is one of the first films I played to. Writing a new score for this film represents, for me, a long cherished dream. The film’s modern feel and visual treatment lends itself well to experimentation and is a pure joy to create sound for!

How to express musically the class struggle and dialectic that are the foundations of this work? By utilizing not one, but two chamber orchestras! Quite simply, at stage left the orchestra represents the elitist spirit of the city through a string quintet and keyboard. At stage right a brass quintet with organ will form the second orchestra, symbol of the strength of the workers in the subterranean city. The percussion section in the center will form a link between the two worlds/ensembles.

For this two and a half hour performance, specially commissioned by the Fantasia Festival, the majority of movements will be precisely written and perfectly synchronized with the images on screen. However, certain passages will be more free, created live through “Soundpainting”, a technique of improvising from coded gestures used by the conductor.”

– Gabriel Thibaudeau


Here is the trailer for The Complete Metropolis:


Vanessa Redgrave in The Devils

A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR KEN RUSSELL

Fantasia will present Britain’s celebrated enfant terrible, the director of such one-of-a-kind classics as ALTERED STATES, TOMMY, CRIMES OF PASSION, WOMEN IN LOVE, LISZTOMANIA, GOTHIC, SALOME’S LAST DANCE, MAHLER and LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, with a lifetime achievement award in celebration of his astoundingly unique and bravely provocative visions.  On the night of his ceremony, we will screen a rare 35mm print of his explosive and still-controversial 1971 masterpiece THE DEVILS. This notoriously powerful film, which remains unavailable on DVD anywhere in the world, stars Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, and featuring art direction by Derek Jarman.  Russell will be in town for a week and our special “Devils’ Night” award presentation will kick off a massive retrospective of his filmography split across Cinematheque Quebecoise and Cinema Du Parc.

THE INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE OF STUART GORDON & JEFFREY COMBS’ CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED EDGAR ALLAN POE STAGE PLAY

Award-winning filmmaker Stuart Gordon, beloved for such films as RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND and STUCK will be returning to Fantasia (after gracing us with the Canadian premiere of EDMOND in 2006) with his staple star Jeffrey Combs to stage their acclaimed one-man play NEVERMORE: AN EVENING WITH EDGAR ALLAN POE, which features Combs in a breathtaking performance as the legendary author. It should be noted that Gordon was a celebrated theatre director for many years before turning to cinema. Among his many impressive credits, the future filmmaker founded Chicago’s Organic Theater in the ’70s and was the first to stage a play by David Mamet, who he continues to collaborate with every now and then. A spellbinding recreation of the public recitals that Poe regularly performed in the years before his death, based on reviews and reports of his actual appearances, NEVERMORE premiered in Los Angeles in July 2009 and was originally slated to run for four weeks.  Critical raves and mass audience draws saw the run extended to nearly six months. Combs’ performance is so captivating and mercurial that many critics have championed him as “the definitive Poe,” a claim that we can fully agree with! 2010 also happens to be the 25th anniversary of RE-ANIMATOR, and in celebration of this, Fantasia will be screening an uncut 35mm print of the cult classic, hosted by Gordon and Combs.

For updates on all things FanTasia, go to www.fantasiafestival.com

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LOOK WHO’S A FAN OF HORROR! KARL WOLF

Posted in Interviews, Music with tags , , , , , , on March 13, 2010 by darklordbunnykins

The "Wolf" Man

The DLB interviewed Montreal-based pop-dance star Karl Wolf (he of that remake of Toto’s “Africa”) as part of Canadian Music Week and it turns out Mr. Wolf is actually a big horror movie fan. I know, right! Anyway, here is Karl on his love of horror movies and what it took to scare him as a kid…

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

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?

Shout! Factory Secures Home Entertainment Rights to Extensive Roger Corman Library

Posted in DVD, Movies, News with tags , , , , , , on January 13, 2010 by darklordbunnykins

PRESS RELEASE:

For Immediate Release

SHOUT! FACTORY SECURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT RIGHTS TO EXTENSIVE ROGER CORMAN LIBRARY

Iconic Film Properties Include Piranha, Death Race 2000, Rock ’N’ Roll High School, Galaxy Of Terror, Starcrash, Humanoids From The Deep, Grand Theft Auto, Battle Beyond The Stars and more


Los Angeles, CA, January 13, 2010 — Shout! Factory and New Horizons Picture Corporation have entered into an extensive multiyear alliance to release a vast library of classic and new films from legendary producer-director Roger Corman, recipient of a 2009 Honorary Academy Award®, to the home entertainment marketplace. Under the terms of the agreement, Shout! Factory has secured the exclusive North American home entertainment rights to over 50 highly sought-after Roger Corman film properties. This announcement was made today by Shout! Factory founding partners Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos, and filmmaker Roger Corman.

“Roger holds an incredibly rich legacy in Hollywood. His cinematic works, spanning decades, continue to influence filmmakers worldwide. Many of his iconic films have been unavailable or long out-of-print in the home entertainment marketplace. There’s a lot of consumer interest in these films,” state Shout! Factory’s founding partners. “We’re thrilled and honored with this opportunity to work with Roger and New Horizons to bring his cinematic treasures back to their original luster and share them with movie fans.”

“We’re delighted to collaborate with Shout! Factory to make New Horizons’ historic library of films available for home entertainment,” said Corman. “We look forward to working closely with the entire Shout team for great DVD and Blu-ray releases ahead.”

Shout! Factory and New Horizons Pictures are working closely to remaster a number of great Corman titles that have been long out of print, some never-before-available on DVD and Blu-ray™. Moreover, Shout! Factory is currently producing a wide range of bonus content for special editions and double features for the launch of Shout! Factory’s Roger Corman’s Cult Classics home entertainment series.

The first titles to be made available from Roger Corman’s Cult Classics presented by Shout! Factory are the much anticipated cult thrillers Piranha Special Edition DVD, Humanoids From The Deep, Up From The Depths and Demon Of Paradise in April 2010; Piranha Special Edition Blu-ray, the memorable 1979 classic Rock ’N’ Roll High School Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray and the punk rock drama Suburbia in May 2010. Other Corman classics slated for 2010 release include Death Race 2000, Warlords Of  The 21st Century, Deathsport, Forbidden World and Galaxy Of Terror, among others.

The saga of independent filmmaker-producer Roger Corman ranks as one of the most amazing motion picture success stories. Having produced more than 350 films and directed 50 others, his influence on American film goes far beyond his own energetic, creative low-budget movies. He is arguably one of Hollywood’s most gifted and masterful filmmakers.

Noted for his keen ability to spot young talent, Corman’s most lasting legacy will undoubtedly be the legion of producers, directors, writers and actors he has fostered, among them: Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Ron Howard, Peter Fonda, Jonathan Demme, Gale Anne Hurd, Diane Ladd, Tommy Lee Jones, Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Talia Shire, Charles Bronson, Joe Dante, Peter Bogdanovich and Sally Kirkland.

DEVILISH DVDS: SHUTTLE (2008)

Posted in DVD, Movies, Reviews with tags , , , , , , on January 11, 2010 by darklordbunnykins

SHUTTLE

Starring Peyton List, Cameron Goodman and Tony Curran

Written and directed by Edward Anderson

Mongrel Media



It’s not a compliment when critic Roger Ebert calls Shuttle “a relentless march into the dark” as part of his one-star-out-of-five review. Still, that quote adorns the DVD’s back cover, and it’s an accurate assessment. Writer Edward Anderson’s filmmaking debut is a tense thriller remarkable for its bleakness.

Peyton List (TV’s Mad Men) and Cameron Goodman play Mel and Jules, BFFs just back home from vacation. It’s late, the airport is deserted and they decide to accept a freelance bus driver’s offer (Tony Curran: Midnight Meat Train) to take them downtown. A handsome pair of bros the girls met earlier horn in on the ride against the driver’s objections. Their only other companion is a nervous accountant (Cullen Douglas).

Soon enough, though, the quintet find themselves on a journey to hell as their driver takes them on a circuitous route nowhere near their destination. Confrontations ensue, their driver pulls a gun, and soon enough his plan for the girls – and there is a plan – starts to come into focus.

First-time director Anderson is relatively skilled as a filmmaker, although it’s the idea of the film, as opposed to its execution, which is the strongest aspect of Shuttle. His characters are not completely sketched out, but List and Goodman create empathetic portraits of friends who just want to get home but find themselves subject to a greater horror than simple robbery. Likewise, Curran, best known to horror fans for his intense portrayal of the vampire Marcus from Underworld: Evolution, brings dimension to his unnamed driver; not just a remorseless killer, there’s a terribly pedestrian method to his madness.

Cameron Goodman as Jules

Shuttle is grim. Anderson offers the audience glimmers of hope as the tables are turned more than once in the girls’ favour. That things end the way they do is pretty devastating. There’s little entertainment to be had here, but, as an exercise in misery porn, it’s an effective reminder that happy endings don’t always happen.

Rating: 3/5

DARK LORD BUNNYKINS EXCLUSIVE! INTERVIEW WITH THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW DIRECTOR MARK ROSMAN

Posted in DVD, Interviews, Movies, News with tags , , , on January 7, 2010 by darklordbunnykins

It actually came out in 1983, but DVD company Liberation Entertainment is only getting around to releasing the “25th Anniversary Edition” of the minor horror classic The House on Sorority Row now… no doubt to capitalize on the recent release of the bigger-budgeted Hollywood remake Sorority Row.

First-time writer-director Mark Rosman was looking to combine his love of suspense with the more commercially viable genre of slasher films when he wrote his script about a group of sorority sisters whose prank on their mean-spirited house mother goes fatally wrong. Inspired by the work of Hitchcock and Henri-Georges Clouzot as much as John Carpenter, Rosman crafted a blood-soaked thriller whose quality belied its low budget and commercial conception.

The Dark Lord Bunnykins conducted this interview with Mr. Rosman by email in early January.

What inspired the story, Mark?

I always loved suspense/mystery/thrillers and wanted to set about writing my first screenplay for me to direct. All the rage in that day (early 1980s) for low-budget movies was horror films (I guess not a lot has changed!). I decided I’d try to come up with a suspense thriller that had horror elements to it.

I had lived in a fraternity for two years when I went to UCLA. I had since graduated college (NYU) and was living in my parents’ house in Beverly Hills. One day I was staring out at the pool in our backyard and the idea came to me about sorority girls pulling a prank involving the pool at their house. I merged that with an idea I had worked on with some other friends: a mother keeps her deranged son locked up in a closet in her house. The mother became the sorority house mother and the deranged son ended up living in the attic of the sorority house over the summer. I combined that all and came up with the script which was originally titled Screamer.

You admit on the commentary that you were more of a suspense fan than a horror fan but that you wanted to make something commercial. What suspense films or directors inspired you? Some have mentioned Hitchcock and Henri-Georges Clouzot.

Yes, definitely Hitchcock. And Clouzot’s Diabolique was always a favourite. But I also loved Frankenheimer, De Palma, Welles, and Kubrick.

The relationships between the sorority sisters are realistic. What experiences fed into their characters and interactions?

After living in a frat house for two years, you pick up things. A lot of the interactions between the main girls and with the smaller characters definitely came from dialog I heard and characters I met during those days.

The girls are not merely innocent victims. Indeed, they are culpable for the death of Mrs. Slater. How important was it for them to face death knowing that they were guilty of a crime?

Probably my biggest goal for the movie was to write a horror film where the girls were not just innocent victims. I never liked those slasher movies where the only thing wrong the victims did was to have sex. But not only did I want the girls culpable of a crime, but I also wanted them involved in a story while the killer was coming after them. I get bored watching victims just partying while we wait for creative ways to kill them. I wanted the girls driving a story forward, and a mystery as to who was really doing the killing.

The DVD packaging calls The House on Sorority Row a “cult classic slasher film.” How accurate is the “slasher” part?

Well, the slasher part was definitely put in to get the film made. But I suppose it is a slasher movie. It’s just that the slasher part is not the reason to watch the movie.

Many of the “kills” were added in post-production. At what point did you realize that you had to make the film bloodier?

In the original shooting, I had planned for only three explicit killing scenes: when Morgan gets the cane stabbed through her body while holding the music box, and when Liz gets her throat slashed in the van, and Vicki gets stabbed with the cane also at the van in the cemetery. After I cut the film together and showed it to some people in the business, I realized that if I’m going to have a shot of getting this distributed, I needed to add more gore. So I came up with bloodier endings to the other deaths and figured out a way to shoot them in my parents’ backyard in Beverly Hills (the movie was shot in Pikesville, Maryland). I also added another killing by having a frat guy stumble across the killer after he came out of the pool. I found out that our LA make-up effects house had already made a life mask of one of their employees so I cast that guy as the frat kid and had the cane go through his throat via using the life mask.

Your original ending had our heroine Katey dying at the hands of the killer, but your distributor, Film Ventures, demanded a less downbeat, more ambiguous ending, with the killer still alive at the end. Why do you think that was? Were they hoping for a sequel?

The distributor had only two notes when they saw my cut. The first was to colourize the black and white opening. They felt no one would sit through black and white. We added a blue tint to it. The second was to end the film when the clown opens his eyes and cut out the ending which showed Katherine floating dead in the pool, wearing the clown costume. They said simply, “You can’t kill the hero.” Maybe they were right. You go all this way with her and then she ends up dead? I was just so sick of every single horror film ending with the last girl living. I wanted to kill her in a creative way. In the original script, Katherine ends up in the hospital and she’s being wheeled out to be greeted by her mother. But then the wheelchair makes a hard turn and we pan up to reveal that the orderly is Eric. When I shot the film, we changed it to the pool ending so we could shoot it at the house location. Both of those endings I loved, but that’s the way it goes in Hollywood. Oh well.

It's curtains for Morgan (Jodi Draigie)

What would a sequel be about?

Who knows? Over the years I tried to come up with sequel ideas but nothing was that great. Film Ventures went bankrupt maybe a year after the movie opened so they never were around to do a sequel.

Did you run into any problems with the MPAA over the violence?

We had the typical notes of cutting out frames of some of the violent scenes to limit them. I think so much blood had been spilled in other horror movies by then that we didn’t have to do much cutting.

Richard Band’s score is epic and classy. How important do you feel it was to elevating the film above its “slasher” contemporaries?

Richard did a really great job. Our inspiration was Bernard Hermann of course. But Richard added a prettiness to the main theme that gave it something special and appropriate. Using the London Philharmonic to record the score didn’t hurt either. Yes, it raised the level of the movie a lot and I greatly appreciate that.

This is the “25th Anniversary Edition,” but the film was actually released in 1983. Why the delay?

I think Liberation, the current distributor of the original, was inspired to do this edition because of the remake.

This killer isn't clowning around.

The film was recently remade as Sorority Row. What if any involvement did you have with it? Have you seen it? And, if so, what did you think?

I didn’t have much involvement with it. I owned the rights to my original screenplay which is what they based the remake on – very loosely. I came out to the set for a couple days which was really fun. I thought the writers did a great job updating the story. The remake is much funnier, sexier and bloodier than mine – which I think is very appropriate to what’s going on today in horror films. Their choice to have real fun with it was inspired. The director, Stewart Hendler, did a fantastic job. It looks like Bourne Identity meets Scream. Lots of cool handheld shots. Made me very jealous.

What do you feel is the lasting appeal of this, your first film as a director?

Who knows? I’m glad it has any appeal at all 27 years later! I hope it’s still fun watching these girls get all catty with each other after they’ve thrown their dead house mother into the pool!

The House on Sorority Row will be available on DVD from Liberation Entertainment on Jan. 12.

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