Droplet by droplet, the morbidly-dubbed “Studio that Dripped Blood” is slowly coming back to life. Hammer Studios – the legendary British film company responsible for a graveyard of ghoulish delights in the '50s, '60s and '70s – has announced that a Woman in Black sequel (titled Woman in Black: Angel of Death) has begun filming. The flick is yet another step forward for the once-defunct House of Horror, having risen from the dead in 2007 to release Let Me In (2010), The Resident (2011) and The Woman In Black (2012). Still, for any true Hammer fan – while new films are cool and all – there awaits a whole host of characters and properties just dying for a comeback in modern retellings, particularly if coupled with that splatter of that old Hammer magic.
If 91-year-old Christopher Lee can unleash heavy metal albums and still appear in films, he can still don the cape – even in a small role. A fierce, blood-thirsty vampire series is what this generation needs. No love interest or wimpy waif lead need apply.
The Curse of Frankenstein
American film fans used to a lumbering lummox and little else owe it to themselves to investigate the Hammer series (seven in all) where Herr Doctor is the true star, and new undead atrocities await each installment.
Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires
Karate action meets the undead? Winner! While the original (a coupling of Hammer and the Shaw Brothers Studio) failed to do much box office, today’s climate seems right for this reworking, especially in light of The Rock getting ready to battle demons.
Dennis Wheatley adaptations
Either When the Devil Rides Out or To the Devil a Daughter could make for a good retelling. Wheatley’s tales are crackin’ good on their own – let alone that modern CG techniques could only improve the dated supernatural elements.
One Million Years B.C.
Okay, well not even close to scary, Hammer is also known for its output of cavegirl movies (including the forementioned “One Million Years B.C.” that put Raquel Welch in a fur bikini. Nuff said). Take a host of today’s hottest stars, drag out the animals skins and let’s have one more fake dinosaur fight, shall we? Who’s in!?
At one point or another — most likely during lengthy road trips or late night procrastination periods in your dorm hall study lounge — you will indubitably be asked the question, "If you could have any super power, what would it be?" And while we artsy types (read: the big-dreaming do-nothings) are satisfied enough opting for the implausible flight and time-travel, mulling over the philosophical significance and ethical ramifications of said abilities, our friendly rivals in the nerd kingdom — the science geeks — are taking things a few steps further: they're actually becoming the superheroes they so admire.
The 2012 spectacle The Avengers not only inspired one of the biggest box office draws in movie history, but has also peaked the creative vision of the likes of inventor Patrick Priebe, who hosts the website laser-gadgets.com. In the below video, publicized by Giant Freakin Robot (courtesy of Cinemablend), Priebe demonstrates his latest creation: Iron Man's gauntlet. Modeling the contraption with steadfast loyalty to Tony Stark's wrist-hugging power blaster (technical term), Priebe's invention opens and shuts its various compartments in apparent response to the movement of his arm muscles, and, most impressively, actually shoots lasers. You can fast-forward to the 2:30 mark to see the mechanism fire light beams powerful enough to pop targeted balloons.
And while he is a rare kind of awesome, Priebe is not the only Earthling to bring the technology of the Avengers Initiative to the real world. Big corporations, questionable tabloid reports, and even the U.S. government have all lain claim to their own contributions to a more Marvel-ous world:
While the interactive holograms utilized by the parties who comprise Stark Enterprises and S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters might seem the stuff of Jetsonian futures, we do have at our disposal the Holocube, a product of the great scientific minds of Belgium. It might not be as flashy or extensive, or as pertinent in world saving, but it's a start.
"Magic" File Trasnfer
Another flashy computer skill that can be found in good use in the cubicles of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s home base is the nifty trick of sending a file from one computer to another without so much as a cable, zipdrive, floppy disc, or even email. Iron Man taps his device to the screen of another, instantly earning the file on hand. And how can we mere mortals find ourselves with this technique at our disposal? There's an app for it!
Genetically Engineered Soldiers
Captain America is no longer an entity limited to the confines of science fiction. Back in December, news broke that researcher Andrew Herr had approached the U.S. military with a proposal to create real life genetically enhanced super soldiers. But do they come with the moral compass of our pal Steve Rogers? Hopefully... all that power in the wrong hands? The wrong jingoistic, hyper-powerful hands?
However You'd Categorize The Hulk
This last one is... slightly less veritable. A few years back, "news" broke that an Egyptian man named Sayyed Muhammad was claiming powers of strength and vigor far and beyond that of any ordinary human. In this The Sun report, Muhammad, likened to The Incredible Hulk, asserted his ability to lift automobiles, and to tear up coins with his hands and bend them with his eye sockets, adding that he has never, in his entire life, slept. Muhammad added that his adrenal condition required him, by medical jurisdiction, to engage in intercourse 15 times a day. So... you know. He might have been lying.
[Photo Credit: Marvel Studios]
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The Taken star attended the event with Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson, the mother and sister of his late wife Natasha Richardson, to pay tribute to the six-generation acting dynasty and its contribution to theatre.
The three were honoured alongside Natasha, who was killed in a skiing accident in 2009, and other late family members Corin Redgrave, Michael Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave and Rachel Kempson.
The event was also attended by stars including actress Jessica Chastain and actor Alan Cumming, who sang Mein Herr from Broadway hit Cabaret in honour of Rodgers and Hammerstein executive director Theodore S. Chapin.
All proceeds from the event went to American Theater Wings' education and outreach programs.
Before we get to the biggest issue of the evening, let's get the housekeeping work out of the way: the boys are going to Bermuda! And someone even gave them scooters! I feel bad for the Production Assistant who had to tail these goons around the island on their little joyride. Good lord, someone save Bermuda.
In any event, Emily Maynard and daughter Ricki have made it to the island, and Emily is all atwitter about her future plans (BABIES!) to travel back to the island with her future family in tow. How sweet or whatever.
Let's move on to the dates. The one-on-one goes to Doug, even though Alejandro was jonesing for it—being that he is one of the remaining specimens to not have had a one-on-one yet. This is probably because Alejandro looks like he's Benjamin Button-ing, hardcore. I mean dude looks like he went from 24 to 12 in two weeks! Of course she hasn't taken him on a one-on-one, he'll be Ricki's age by Thursday! Shenanigans.
For the one-on-one, Doug and Emily keep it simple, perusing the local wares, eating and talking about being parents because that is, shockingly enough, the one subject that Emily seems to never tire of. Ever. BABIES!
Doug opens up about his life, and even about an earlier scuffle he had with some of the dudes in the house. But, it's okay, you know, because he started a charity. And of course he started a charity, because Doug is positioning himself to be this year's Misunderstood Perfect Guy, which nobody believes because this isn't a dating show for cyborgs, it is for humans. And Perfect Human is an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp. I think things are going to get pretty ugly for our friend Doug. (See what I did there?!)
Doug is that overeager college senior who wants to be one of those few people that has a job BEFORE graduation (Who are those people? How do they work?), and very pointedly memorizes a series of “weaknesses” that any employer would look at as a great reason to exploit you for little-to-no pay. His answers for his flaws? "Oh, I spend too much time with my son!" "I didn't wash my ex-girlfriend's car enough!" WHAT A MONSTER!
We all know those are not actually real flaws or problems, just something that you do with a shoulder shrug and a lopsided smile to actually flaunt just how fantastic you think you are — accidentally on purpose! (I love oxymorons.) Was Doug's third-person narrative during his interview also accidental? Alicia does not care for Doug's bulls**t right now.
It is also 1,000,000 percent worth mentioning that when at a wishing well on their date, Emily wished to not be single forever. Because nothing turns a dude on more than Eau De Desperation. So hot.
Next: A pile of dudes on a boat.Group date! On a boat! Our merry band of messpiles clearly do not have their sea legs, as evidenced by the abundance of clamoring around happening on these boats they have no idea how to operate. They are barely in the water about 87 percent of the time. It is a miracle that they aren't capsizing every 13 seconds. It is terrifying. But! The winning team gets more time with Emily, and the losers must go home, so it's on, of course. Dudes just get so angry whenever they're losing something, don't they? So salty. Yellow team ends up winning and the red team pouts like teeny tiny man babies.
During the group date evening portion, Ryan makes a toast to his trophy wife — meaning Emily. Cute, bro. Also it's about this point where I notice that Ryan's neck is like, maybe borderline freakishly thick, you guys. I mean, it's just a thing I noticed, so, you know, whatever.
And I guess that means it's time to talk about Ryan. Man, Ryan is totally doing Kalon a solid right now by taking on the d-bag title for this season, huh? I mean, I think we all called it after that “get thee to a gym, fatty!” mentality he exposed with Emily's girlfriends at the park. But, I mean, he just really dug deep, deep, deep into the whole of misogynistic, sexist, pretentious motherload tonight to remind us that dudes like Ryan are the epitome of terrible. He pushes her — which is Emily speak for, hey man, you're kinda being a d**k right now and I don't know where it's coming from. Later in the evening, Ryan expresses that he has some concerns. Emily has a great responsibility, you know, being on a TV show and Ryan wants to know what she's going to do with it. Because he's deep, like a spoon. He wants his women to stay in the spotlight, essentially. He's here to make an impression, not impress — because didn't you get the memo? This show is about Ryan, America! Emily at one point brings up the fat comment he made, and he says it was flirtatious. Of course! Because nothing is more flirtatious than being told your man will not love you if you become a total fatty.
“God deigned you to be a beautiful woman, so be a beautiful woman” is the line that threw me over the edge and straight into the Feminist Firepit I keep by my bedside table in times of emergency such as this. I mean, I cannot even begin to explain to you how f**ked up this is on so many levels. Is it written somewhere in stone that all women are supposed to be beautiful and stay beautiful and do so only for a man?! On the list of the 10 Commandments, is “Be Beautiful, Woman” No. 2 or No. 4? I can't remember. (Silly me!) He talks in fortune cookies, I swear. Fortune cookies made out of horse s**t.
Ryan's judgmental side is really starting to bother Emily, because she is a rational human woman. She recognizes that his issue with seeing Arie kissing her in the last episode is totally a double-standard — which, yes! Have you seen The Bachelor? Then you know that the bachelors are CONSTANTLY making out with women in front of the other female contestants on that show. And they just sit there awkwardly and deal because I'm pretty sure there is a line in the contract that says you just have to put up with it on these weird shows. It wouldn't even be an issue on The Bachelor, but because Emily is a woman, Ryan feels he has a right to get all butthurt about seeing her kiss someone else in front of him. It is ridiculous.
Later, while talking with Michael, Ryan explains that he was “blessed” with romance, heart, athleticism, modesty, really straight hair, and great feet for tennis shoes? He sees there is “great potential” in Emily but that he's called to something great which may not mean that Emily is the one for him, but it does apparently mean he's ready to be the next star of The Bachelor? GROSS, Ryan. Get thee to a Bachelor Pad, stat!
Next: Jef With One F becomes a real personArie hates Ryan and so of course I love him even more when he pulls Emily away from Ryan for the explicit purposes of pissing off Herr Ryan De Dooshebahg. Arie continues to be my adorable frontrunner, so there's not much to say here, but I will include a gratuitous photo of them for you. Because I care about you guys and, ultimately, I want you to be happy.
Next is Jef With One F. Oh Jef With One F. I want to like you. I think maybe you're just sort of shy and nervous. I guess it's semi-endearing, except for the stampede of “like” that he throws our way during their downtime together. Jef wants his like, time to like, mean like, something, you know? Like totally, man. Also he made her kiss his boo-boo which I found to be super creepy? I'm trying, Jef With One F, but you're making it hard for me. From the previews, though, it seems like Jef With One F gets a little more comfortable. I'm interested to see that, because I think that Emily actually really likes him, and I would like to see what she sees in him.
Jef gets the date rose! Everyone is shocked, including Jef.
The two-on-one date is next, featuring John and Nate. I just threw up everywhere because of the saccharine stupidity of "let's explore this Bermuda LOVE Triangle." But they're jumping off cliffs! It's just like love! I'm falling and breaking all of my bones! Just like love!
Next, they spelunk into a cave! (They don't really spelunk, but it feels rare the opportunity to say that in its appropriate, less-hilarious, original context. So I went for it.) And inside the cave they find The Legend Of The Awkward Date. Nate just pronounced quinoa wrong, so no one is hungry anymore. There's really not much more to say about this date other than what's already been said: It's painful and awkward and weird and strange. Nate the ghost is sent home, and John gets the rose. Spelunk you stay. Nate... sashay away.
Chris pulls Doug aside at the cocktail party to talk to him and figure out what their issues are. There is thunder and lightning involved because everything on this show is one giant, cliched metaphor. “I just don't believe you,” Chris cries. “Believe what?” Doug questions. “Believe you in general,” which is actually what Emily was sort of pointing to in her commentary about Doug earlier in the episode, but still. Dude, why do you care so much? Did you miss the memo that this isn't about you? Why do these dudes forget that this show isn't about them or how they feel?
And the roses begin. Staying with us to date another day:
Ryan (seuhisudfnzdiundfiug DOES NOT COMPUTE.)
Alejandro (Car breaks screech to a halt. A crash is heard. Say WHAT right now?)
Charlie and Michael are dunzo. Ryan was clearly forced to stay around by producers to cause more drama on the show. I know I joke about that, but at this point I am 100 percent convinced. I mean, Emily was even chatting up Chris Harrison about how much of a total loser she thought Ryan was! It is clearly the only plausible reason for why and how he stayed on another week. Literally. You cannot convince me of anything different.
Next week they're off to FOGGY LONDONTOWN! Do you think they'll drink tea and eat crumpets and put on terrible accents while saying “by George, I think he's got it!” at each other? Fingers crossed!
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a decent ninja flick. When the Golden Age of Ninja Cinema (also known as the Dudikoff Era) ebbed at the close of the ‘80s the black-clad martial artists retreated to the shadows. This week director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) aims to resurrect them with Ninja Assassin a hyperkinetic gorefest starring Korean pop star Rain.
But these ain’t your daddy’s ninjas. Though they boast the familiar wardrobe (black on black) and weapons (swords throwing stars etc.) the ninjas in this flick are thoroughly nasty buggers. Members of a super-secret international syndicate of assassins-for-hire they can dodge bullets turn invisible heal wounds and communicate telepathically. And for the low low price of 100 lbs of gold they’ll kill anyone you want no questions asked.
It’s that latter aspect that draws the scrutiny of law enforcement — specifically agents Mika Coretti (Naomi Harris) and Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles) of Europol (which appears to be a division of Interpol staffed exclusively with imbeciles). Fortunately for these hapless twits they find a potent ally in Raizo (Rain) a renegade ninja of unsurpassed ability who nurses a nasty grudge against his cruel former master Lord Ozunu (Sho Kosugi).
Fueled by childhood memories of the abuse he suffered while at Lord Ozunu’s ninja sleepaway camp Raizo will stop at nothing to bring the entire operation down. Which is good because his former chums are a persistent lot arriving in ever greater numbers to snuff out the powerful apostate.
McTeigue’s dizzying shaky-cam combined with the identical appearance of most of the ninja combatants makes the action difficult to follow at times in Ninja Assassin. It’s probably why he felt compelled to accentuate every fight scene with exaggerated bursts of CGI blood. Still as disembodied heads limbs and torsos fly across the screen in quantities not seen since Kill Bill it’s nigh impossible to determine who they belong(ed) to. Much easier to pinpoint are the glistening six-pack abs of Raizo a fighter so badass he can ward off his pursuers while wearing little more than a thin layer of baby oil.
It’s a pity Raizo couldn’t have applied his blade to the Ninja Assassin script which encumbers the first half of the movie with endless flashbacks gratuitous training sequences and pointless political squabbling. Or perhaps he could have imparted some of his skills at deception to McTeigue who exhibits all of the subtlety and unpredictability of a kamikaze pilot.
This is one ninja flick that should have remained in the shadows.