April 08, 2013 2:19pm EST
Sam Raimi's 1983 horror indie The Evil Dead trickled into theaters on January 1, managing to squeeze $2.4 million out of the box office over its short theatrical run. A decent take for a movie that cost just above $300,000 to produce.
While it spawned two sequels and and countless DVD reissues, The Evil Dead franchise has continued to remain in the "cult" category. Seminal, but "The Necronomicon" is no "Jason" or "Freddy." So it's a testament to the power of a horror remake what Screen Gems has accomplished with their updated Evil Dead. Over the weekend, the 21st century incarnation grossed over $26 million at the domestic box office — a 983% increase from the overall total of the original.
"Just enough" is the name of the game for horror remakes, the rare genre of Hollywood movies that can be delivered on modest budgets and be deemed hits when they amount to modest returns. What it takes is a ludicrous concept and the imagination to pull it off. Creating something fresh that fits the bill is a risk for Hollywood — let's be honest, would you pony up $20 million for a pitch like "murdered child molester seeks revenge by preying on the dreams of children"? But that's the kind of crazed concept a horror movie needs, especially when it comes to whipping up chilling trailers and posters that pop. So studios return to when filmmakers were capable of cooking up wilder ideas, back in the mid-'70s and '80s, and reap the properties for remake potential.
The Evil Dead poster pays its respects to the original by featuring the line, "A New Vision from the Producers of the Original Classic," but it also showcases the blood-drenched image of a woman on death's door, accompanied by the claim that it's "the most terrifying movie you will ever see." Callbacks combined with sensationalist claims that only a "name brand" movie could make.
Horror remakes have an advantage in modern technology. For fans, updating the story isn't the draw. It's all about the promise of amplified gory antics, the mayhem we saw decades earlier realized and escalated with today's style. The upgrade worked wonders for 2010's A Nightmare on Elm Street, 2009's Friday the 13th, and 2007's Halloween, three glossy remakes that grossed $63 million, $65 million, and $58 million respectively. Strong imagery is the key to keeping a franchise like Texas Chansaw Massacre able to continuously reboot itself, as it did in both 2003 ($80 million total) and 2013 ($34 million).
With even slightest bit of name recognition and a high-concept to back it up, lesser-known properties have been able to prosper: Dawn of the Dead (2004, $80.1 million), Amityville Horror (2005, $64.5 million), The Hills Have Eyes (2006, $41.8 million), and even Prom Night (2008, $43.8 million) turned profits. Even George Romero's thriller The Crazies, which only made $143,784 at the box office back in 1973, was able to be twisted for today's audiences. Director Breck Eisner's 2010 remake made $39.1 million.
Critical response withstanding, horror movie remakes from the past 10 years are lucrative investments. What's less sure is their franchise potential — both the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th reboots hit big and sparked sequel talk. So far, neither has come to pass. Halloween and Texas Chainsaw made it to second rounds, but the returns didn't allow for series growth. Evil Dead's future is in question: there is already sequel talk, but will it make sense three weeks from now? And will the team that helped bring the movie into theaters want another round? Unlike most of the movies they're based on, today's horror movies rarely evolve into their own franchises. The real successes end up being the originals — Saw and Paranormal Activity being two everlasting series that got their start on the film festival circuit.
Horror movies work, but like their victims, don't stick around for long.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Screen Gems]
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February 01, 2013 6:41am EST
Fandom is a funny thing. Often, if the fervor toward a given subject — or in our case genre — is strong enough, fans become advocates, and advocates can become crusaders. That is not meant as a slight — furious debates in which film fans engage is often a reflection of thoughtful theoretical analyses. Horror fans are not immune to fierce defenses of dogma; indeed they are arguably the most stalwart.
Take Warm Bodies. In the film, a zombie falls in love with the girlfriend of one of his victims, and slowly regains his humanity through their relationship. Zombie purists have been decrying the film from trailer one, citing it as an affront to canon.
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The ugly, shambling, worm-ridden truth however is that there is no zombie canon anymore. The mythos has been rehashed and reinvented so many times that even the zombie model to which we steadfastly cling is a reconfiguration. Perhaps it would be best to look at the benchmarks in the evolution of this classic cinematic monster to illustrate that there has never been a solid rulebook.
The Voodoo Zombie
The origins of the walking dead go back to ancient voodoo beliefs centering on the ability to resurrect the dead. Most commonly associated with Haiti, the roots go back as far as tribal Africa. This historical mythology is the basis for some of the very first zombie films. Bela Lugosi’s 1932 classic White Zombie plays upon this origin, as does Jacques Tourneur’s unsettling I Walked with a Zombie.
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These zombies did not consume their victims, they were the victims; reanimated in a stupor in order to engage in manual labor. At a time when the censorship was oppressive, the idea of anyone coming back from the dead was enough of a shock for audiences without the added cannibalism. The voodoo connection has not been entirely lost in subsequent decades, 1974’s Sugar Hill and 1988’s The Serpent and the Rainbow, but for the most part, this cultural derivation of zombie lore is dead and buried.
The Zombie We Know and Love
When there is no more room for convention, Night of the Living Dead will be unleashed upon the Earth. The conceptualization of the modern zombie is owed almost entirely to George Romero. In 1968, he took the undead out of the tropics and shoved them up through the soil of the Pennsylvania farmlands. There is actually a cultural context to Night of the Living Dead as well.
America continued to lose ground in Vietnam, and as the horror of the war spread across the heartland, the standards for zombies reflected the pessimism of the era. Suddenly there was no witchcraft prompting the rising of the dead, no reason at all in fact. It was shot in bleak black-and-white, and now the zombies were full-blown flesh-eaters. Interestingly, despite the establishment all these formative characteristics, the word “zombie” is not used once.
And now we reach the monumental irony of zombie dogma. By now, Zombies are an indelible part of pop culture as much a horror cinema mainstay.
Even people who have never seen a single zombie film will at least make the association between the undead and brains. Zombies have always subsisted on the brains of the living, right? That’s just a fundamental component of the living dead.
Well, it is now, but the advent of zombies munching on human noggins didn’t come about until 1985.
Alien screenwriter Dan O’Bannon directed Return of the Living Dead, which was originally conceived as a Night of the Living Dead sequel until O’Bannon rewrote it.
This strange punk rock horror comedy was the first time that zombies, which had previously dined on flesh indiscriminately, went directly for the brain. O’Bannon even offers a loose explanation that the devouring of brains eases the pain of being dead.
The Sprinting Dead?
Many people like to credit Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later as ushering in the age of the running zombie. Traditional doctrine mandates that zombies shamble rather slowly, but Boyle’s incarnations sprint at dizzying and terrifying speed.
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The undercutting semantic argument of course is that Boyle’s zombies are not zombies at all; they are “infected.” The confusion inherent here stems from the fact that by the time 28 Days Later was released, the term zombie became a catchall for any threatening ravenous horde. So actually Boyle’s film incited two separate debates about zombie tenets.
If you subscribe to the idea that “the infected” are indeed zombies, 28 Days Later is not the first to introduce the quickly-moving horde. In David Cronenberg’s 1977 film Rabid, a strain of rabies turns normal people into violent bloodthirsty monsters that routinely pursue their victims with lightning speed. Here again, the argument can be made that since we’re dealing with a virus in Rabid, that precludes the notion that the antagonists are zombies. However, by that logic, Boyle did not create the first running zombies either.
As you can see, arguing the exact parameters of zombie canon is as productive as trying chew threw the concrete walls of a fallout shelter.
[Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment]
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One of the most prevalent subgenres in horror is zombie cinema. You can’t throw a copy of the Necronomicom without hitting a zombie, preferably in the head. Even before George Romero turned Pittsburgh into the epicenter of the living dead uprising, these walking ghouls were turning up in scary stories and late night horror movies for generations. One diehard fan of midnight monster movies is Norman Babcock of the upcoming film ParaNorman. The good news for kids like Norman, and all us grownup(ish) fans of schlocky horror, is that there is plenty of off-the-wall zombie fare available on Netflix’s Watch Instantly service. Grab the popcorn, the case of highly-caffeinated soda, and a sturdy baseball bat or sharp machete. Your midnight zomb-o-thon is ready to roll… or at least shamble slowly forward.
There is a formula to horror films that has existed pretty much since the genre was born. The formula tends to dictate that women are the principle prey for a male antagonist. Jake West’s zomedy Doghouse, takes this time-honored tradition and turns it soundly on its rotting ear. A group of sleazy gentlemen, looking for salacious thrills, venture to a nearby village said to be overwhelmingly female. As it turns out, the town is entirely populated by women… undead women. What ensues is a wacky fight for survival as these helpless men are torn apart by ravenous zom-femmes. The irony and the gore are well worth the price of admission.
The song “Supernatural Voodoo Woman” perfectly kicks off this blaxploitation horror oddity. When a local businessman is murdered by the mob for refusing to buy into their protection scheme, his fiancée makes a deal with a voodoo priest in order to harness the power of the undead. She uses her zombie legion to exact her revenge on those who killed her lover. As silly and reminiscent of its time as it is, Sugar Hill is a lot of fun and actually hits upon the voodoo origins of the walking dead. It’s also fun to see a version of the character Baron Samedi, the king of graveyards, that isn’t connected to the James Bond universe.
Sure, we run from zombies or perhaps take a shot at destroying their brains if we feel particularly bold, but why have we never considered the idea of keeping them as pets? Set in the 1950s, this 2006 comedy Fido supposes an alternate past in which humans fought a great war with the zombies only to eventually develop the technology to pacify them and keep them as pets. The movie is a fantastic horror spin on the culture of Cold War paranoia that pervaded 1950s society. One of the best gags in the film is the fact that children are taught riffle marksmanship as a school subject, shooting to the playground rhyme, “In the brain and not the chest, headshots are the very best.”
There’s only one thing worse than zombies: Nazi zombies. It’s not enough he wants to eat our brains, he’s a fascist too? This Norwegian horror flick follows a group of medical students vacationing at a cabin in the mountains. Unfortunately for them, the region harbors a dark past. During WWII, a group of occupying Nazis was chased into the wilderness by revolting villagers. The campers find themselves being pursued by the reanimated Third Reich. While Dead Snow also employs a fair bit of comedy, there is no mistaking its sinister tones. It’s gory, absurd, and everything zombie fans demand of their beloved subgenre.
Survival of the Dead
It would in fact be criminal for your late-night zombie movie marathon to conclude without featuring at least one film from the master himself. Continuing with the expansion of his own landmark undead apocalypse, George Romero takes the struggle for survival to an island populated by feuding Irish immigrants. The theme of the living being just as dangerous as the living dead underscores every beat of his original trilogy and is alive and well here. There is also a certain quality to Survival of the Dead that makes it seem like a horror western despite its contemporary setting. If nothing else, watch the movie for the moaning zombie heads on spikes. Wouldn’t that have made Disney World’s Haunted Mansion more interesting?
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July 17, 2012 1:54pm EST
You don't know that The Dark Knight Rises comes out on Friday? Wait, you don't know who Batman is? What kind of cave have you been living in? Not a bat cave, obviously. Wow, you really need some help — not just psychologically, but knowing just what the heck the caped crusader is all about. We're going to answer all your questions below.
Who is Batman?
Are you kidding me with this? Honestly?
No, I really have no clue who he is.
Fine, but we're not doing this for Harry Potter, Santa Claus, and the Beatles. It's not my fault you are culturally illiterate. Okay, so Batman is a comic book super hero who made his debut in 1939 in DC Comics.
What are his super powers?
Well, he doesn't have any powers. He's a billionaire named Bruce Wayne who is a skilled fighter and has all these cool gadgets and stuff that he keeps on a utility belt.
So his power is basically that he's really rich. Where did he get his money?
From his parents who are usually classified as "industrialists," but it seems like they run some sort of defense company.
Yes, Bruce Wayne is basically just Dick Cheney with a worse attitude and a mask. But the parents aren't around anymore because when he was a young boy, Bruce watched them be murdered by muggers. Right in front of him. That's why he learned how to be a super awesome kung fu expert who fights crime at night while being a billionaire playboy by day.
Aren't playboy activities like going to parties, getting drunk in night clubs, and sleeping with hookers usually nighttime activities as well?
Hey, no one said it was easy.
If Batman is only in comics, why should I know who he is?
Are you kidding me with this? Seriously? Okay, there was a TV show in the '60s where Adam West—
You mean the mayor of Quahog?
So, you watch Family Guy but you have no idea who Batman is? You're crazy. Yes, Adam West played Batman in the '60s and it was an incredibly popular if campy show in which Batman and his sidekick, Robin, faced off against a bunch of different villains. Then Tim Burton made a Batman movie in 1989 and a few sequels. And then Christopher Nolan started the whole thing over again in 2005.
Who is this Robin lady?
He's not a lady. Robin is Batman's sidekick and partner-in-crime. Originally he was Dick Grayson, Batman's "ward" who was a circus acrobat whose parents died in an accident. Batman took him under his wing (har har) and made him into a high-flying crime fighter. Since then, in the comics at least, there have been a few different Robins.
Are they gay?
Some people kind of think so, but ostensibly, they are not. But, you know, they also kind of are.
So, why is everyone talking about Batman now?
Because on Friday the final movie in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises comes out.
These are different from the '90s movies?
God, yes. Are you even listening? Tim Burton made two, Batman and Batman Returns both starring Michael Keaton as Batman. Then Joel Schumacher made two, Batman Forever with Val Kilmer and Batman & Robin with George Clooney. There were nipples on the Batsuit.
God, that sounds awful.
They were. The sequels got put on ice until Christopher Nolan took over. He rebooted the series.
Batman wears boots?
No, that means they restarted the movie's mythology from the beginning. Gosh, you really are a simpleton, aren't you? So, in the first movie, Batman Begins, Batman is played by Christian Bale and after he sees his parents killed he's all moody and sad and emo and listens to The Smiths a lot and goes off on a quest to become the ultimate ninja badass. Then he comes back and has to kill Ra's al Ghul, one of the men who trained him in super secret ninja arts. He also defeats the Scarecrow, who uses a drug to make people very afraid. Katie Holmes was in it.
The one who divorced Tom Cruise?
The very same.
Wow, she's very famous. So this movie must have been popular?
Oh god yes, but not as popular as the second movie The Dark Knight, which made exactly $17 bazillion (okay, actually $533 million domestically) and is the third highest-grossing U.S. movie of all time. In this sequel, Batman takes on his traditional archenemy The Joker, who is a psychopath with a white face and grin plastered on it.
He sounds like a clown.
Exactly. He's like a clown with a really warped sense of humor. He was played by Cesar Romero on TV and Jack Nicholson in the 1989 movie. Heath Ledger, who died after filming the movie but before it came out, won a posthumous Oscar for his role in the film. He was really quite awesome.
Are there any other characters that I should know about?
Well, there is Alfred, who plays Batman's tireless and humorous butler. In the Nolan movies he's played by Michael Caine. There is also Catwoman, who is a feline-inspired baddy who has been in lots of Batman stories and is in The Dark Knight Rises, played by Anne Hathaway.
I don't like her.
What are you talking about? You don't even know who Batman is. How are you gonna talk smack about Anne Hathaway?
I just don't. I'm sorry.
That's stupid. Then you probably hate Tom Hardy, who plays Bane, the other baddie in Dark Knight Rises, who is like a 'roided out strong man with ties to Occupy Wall Street or something.
What does OWS have to do with any of this?
I don't know, I haven't seen the movie yet!
Then why are you the one teaching me all about Batman if you don't even know how it ends?
Well, I kind of do, because David Letterman ruined it for everyone.
Maybe you should go see the movie and then tell me what happens.
Please, you're not going to go see the movie anyway. You don't even know who Batman is. What is wrong with you?
Wait, wait. Is Batman the one with the cape and the pointy ears and the yellow belt?
Oh, I totally know who that is. Nevermind.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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February 12, 2012 1:15pm EST
Hinzman was working as a cameraman on George Romero's 1968 horror classic Night of the Living Dead when the director cast him as a zombie in the film's opening scene.
The experience prompted him to sign up for more horror roles in films like Evil Ambitions, Santa Claws, Legion of the Night and Hungry Wives.
His last role came in 2011's River of Darkness.
He also directed gruesome hits FleshEater and The Majorettes, in which he starred, in the mid-1980s.
Hinzman, who was a regular hit at horror film conventions across America, died at his home in Pennsylvania on 5 February (12).
October 04, 2011 11:39am EST
While you may be thinking about what’s going to happen on Season 2 of AMC’s The Walking Dead you can’t forget about all the intense things that went on in the first season. Perhaps that’s why the entire first season hit Blu-ray and DVD today – so you have time for a quick refresher course before the Oct. 16 season premiere. And while it’s nice to have these six meticulously-crafted mini-zombie movies in your personal home entertainment collection, the real treat here is the extensive list of extras.
You could stick with the traditional method of audio commentary laid over each of the six episodes, or you could learn about all the inner workings through the seemingly never-ending list of featurettes, behind-the-scenes documentaries, and other video extras. If you’re curious as to how all these amazing stunts, incredible zombies, and gruesome scenes make it to the screen, a feature called “We Are THE WALKING DEAD” will take you through each of the six episodes without narration – just the barebones, handheld camera experience of what it was like to be on set with the actors and crew. There are also pretty extensive videos featuring make-up wiz Greg Nicotero sharing his zombie make-up tips (just in time for Halloween) as well as taking us through the steps for the extensive list of effects he pioneered on the AMC series (see: back of the head blood cannon).
A few features prove to be incredibly valuable considering the amount of debate surrounding the plot of the show. Many fans of the comic book are disappointed that the series departs from the comics – in fact there are those that were hoping for a frame-by-frame remake of the books. Through various video interviews with Robert Kirkman (the creator of The Walking Dead comics) and Frank Darabont (the creator of The Walking Dead series), fans are given a bit of an answer as to why their favorite comics aren’t being replicated on television. It’s such a hot-button topic with fans, but after watching the thorough explanations from the guys behind the zombie apocalypse, it’s hard to keep fighting their decisions.
Finally – it’s on the back of the box in bold, so it must be important – the Blu-ray also features the Pilot Episode in black and white, which helps lend it a bit of the George A. Romero feel that Darabont worked to infuse into “Days Gone Bye.” It seems a little gimmicky, but upon watching it, I almost wish the whole series was done in a colorless world. It’s like watching a whole new show.
If you’re a fan of good television or zombies or Darabont or fun, you’ll probably be taking a gander at The Walking Dead’s three-disc set, but beware: you’ll need hours (and I mean hours) to get through all of these fantastic features. So maybe, don’t make any plans between now and that Oct. 16 premiere.
The Walking Dead Season 1 hits Blu-ray on Oct. 4.
December 20, 2010 7:48am EST
If you think that a film based on the long-popular Hasbro board game Ouija is a bad idea, you are not alone. Nevertheless, some over at Universal Pictures seem to think that THIS is the next (or first, rather) big thing to come from the pact between the two companies. Though properties like Monopoly, Risk and Stretch Armstrong continue to be developed, Ouija already has a script courtesy of TRON: Legacy's Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and a release date set for November 9th 2012. One of the major missing pieces in this puzzle is a director, but according to The Hollywood Reporter the studio already has its eye on a few potential filmmakers.
Both McG and Breck Eisner have recently been connected to the project. The source claims that both separately pitched their vision of the film to studio execs over the last two weeks and it's now up to Universal to decide who will helm this reported $80-$100 million feature. Spotty choices, if you ask me. True, Eisner made a better-than-expected rehash of George Romero's The Crazies earlier this year (the scares were visceral). Unfortunately he also crashed-and-burned with the abysmal franchise non-starter Sahara, an undeniable critical and financial failure. McG has had plenty of success with his pair of Charlie's Angels films and made the solid sports drama We Are Marshall but left fans divided over his take on the Terminator mythology with 2009's Terminator Salvation. Of course, he wouldn't face similar expectations if hired for Ouija because there simply aren't any.
Though little is known about the project, Kitsis and Horowitz have claimed that it will not be a horror film and will instead center on a supernatural family adventure on par with Indiana Jones and The Mummy. Because of this description, I'm going to call McG the better choice simply because he has experience with large productions that have paid off. Ouija would be in the same vein as Eisner's big-budget flop and I just don't see the logic in investing that kind of money into his creative vision for this film. Don't get me wrong: I believe that there are better filmmakers suited for Ouija, but I wouldn't be totally opposed to watching a McG directed supernatural family adventure.
What do you think? Who should helm the untitled Ouija project? Let us know your thoughts!
August 25, 2010 1:37pm EST
This week, Eli Roth invites you to witness what he calls The Last Exorcism, but let's face the film facts here people: Priest's have been exorcising demons in Hollywood long before the world cared about him (does anyone even care now?). The religious method of cleansing the possessed is as much a myth as it is a mystery, but it has always been a great subject for movies. In honor of the spooky new film, which hits theaters this Friday, we've exercised our own knowledge of film history to bring you a Brief Timeline of Cinematic Exorcisms. Check out the history of this horror sub-genre below!
Blithe Spirit (1945) In what is more than likely the very first cinematic exorcism, Blithe Spirit focuses on a husband and his second wife who are haunted by the ghost of his first, named Elvira (coincidence? I think not). The married couple seeks the help of a medium named Madame Arcati, who contacts the deceased lover and tries to fix up this nasty little triangle. There are more chuckles than thrills in this Golden Age fantasy-comedy, but it deserves a spot in our timeline because I don’t think you’ll find an exorcism on film before it. The Devils (1971) In Ken Russell’s 1971 shocker, you will find many sequences of depraved acts that make an exorcism look tame. The film is a dramatized historical account of the rise and fall of Urbain Grandier, a 17th-century French priest executed for witchcraft following the supposed possessions of Loudun. You could view the film as a warm-up to The Passion of the Christ in terms of its graphic violence, but in addition to crucifixion and torture, this one’s got nuns involved in an orgy at the feet of a statue of Christ, as well as Vanessa Redgrave masturbating with a human bone. Chew on that, Father Merrin. The Exorcist (1973) Though there may have been examples of exorcisms in movies before it, William Friedkin’s incredibly frightening film has become the fictional benchmark for the religious practice. Both cinematically intense and controversial within the religious community, it is the most successful horror film of all time and rightly so: There are images within that you won’t easily forget. Martin (1977) A B-movie for the history books, George A. Romero’s Martin is a vampire-romance tale with just a touch of exorcism. The title character is an obsessive “serial feeder” (I just made that up) who preys on young women, grifters and criminals in and around Braddock, PA. His old-school Greek grand uncle attempts to shoo away the evil inside him by contacting two priests to perform an exorcism, but they are unsuccessful. Martin eventually meets a tragic fate as his own “blood” ironically kills him. The Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) Far from the success of its predecessor, the sequel to Friedkin’s masterpiece was directed by John Boorman, who presented a more allegorical and symbolic story that failed to captivate audiences the way the original did. In many ways it’s a rehash of The Exorcist, but it explores the positive side of the supernatural. Beetlejuice (1987) We’ll now take another break from William Peter Blatty’s satanic saga and travel to Winter River, CT, where the recently deceased Maitlands meet the afterlife’s leading bio-exorcist, Betelgeuse. Tim Burton gave horror fans a lighter look at the world of the dead as Michael Keaton’s wild and crazy supernatural swinger rids Barbara and Adam of their house’s new owners. Additionally, we get the rare opportunity to see what happens to ghosts who have been exorcised via the Lost Souls room. Exorcist III (1990) “Save your prayers, God is not here with us now” -- and neither is any sign of true quality in W.P. Blatty’s cinematic adaptation of his own novel, Legion, which he claimed was the true sequel to the original 1973 film. Though the film is cemented within the Exorcist canon, it’s really more of a standalone serial-killer/murder mystery hiding behind the title of the greatest horror movie ever. Repossessed (1990) No classic film is above being parodied, and The Exorcist was the victim of satire in this lowbrow comedy that cast Linda Blair as, essentially, Regan MacNeil all grown up with a family of her own. When the Devil possesses her once again, it’s up to Father Jebedaiah Mayii (Leslie Nielsen) to exorcise the demon. By this point, exorcisms were so ingrained in global pop culture that the magic of the film that made the religious practice a phenomenon had been nearly forgotten. Scary Movie II (2001) Continuing on in the tradition of mocking cinematic staples, the Wayans brothers conjured a blue-chip franchise by mashing together parodies of hit horror premises. The second film in the series featured a riotous vignette that at once parodies and pays homage to The Exorcist. Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) After 14 years and many spoofs, the horror franchise that made “exorcism” a household term returned to shock a new generation of moviegoers. Unfortunately, the tricks of ‘70s cinema didn’t work as well in a world of contemporary special effects, and though there were some frightening moments in the film, it didn’t reach the level of terror that fans were hoping for. Constantine (2005) In the decade of superhero cinema, Warner Bros. found a way to reinvent the exorcism with this underrated comic-book adaptation. Keanu Reeves plays an irreverent supernatural detective who casts away demons in Los Angeles. The exorcisms are physically brutal, and, with plausible makeup and prosthetics, the victims are genuinely horrifying. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) The year 2005 gave the world a double dose of exorcisms. The second helping came in the form of a fictionalized account of the story of Anneliesse Michel, a German girl who authorities claim was truly possessed by the Devil. The film is an interesting mix of courtroom drama and true horror. Thanks in large part to Jennifer Carpenter’s chilling performance as Emily Rose, the film is a fitting companion piece to The Exorcist, one that attempts to scientifically explain demonic possession and exorcisms and also questions the moral and legal ramifications of performing one. The Last Exorcism (2010) As stated earlier, don’t think that this will be the last film to feature an exorcism, especially if it performs well. Eli Roth’s low-budget faux-documentary centers on a troubled evangelical minister who agrees to let his last exorcism be filmed. The trailer looks decent and the reviews are surprisingly good, so hopefully this will be another solid entry into the sub-genre of horror.
April 23, 2010 5:24am EST
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Remake is, apparently, his middle name. Breck Eisner, who won kudos for his chilling re-imagining of George Romero's The Crazies earlier this year, will next set his sights on John Carpenter's beloved Escape From New York, says The Hollywood Reporter.
The remake has been a top priority for the New Line (WB), which picked up the rights in March 2007, with Gerard Butler attached to star and Ken Nolan writing the script. The project then veered into development hell, losing Butler but amassing a penal colony of writers, among them Jonathan Mostow and Allan Loeb, and collecting then losing director Len Wiseman. (Neal Moritz has remained producer throughout the process.)
Eisner's boarding should bring redo back on track as New Line, sticking with the Loeb draft, tries to mix an origin story for anti-hero Snake Plissken and merge it with the story of the 1981 original.
On who should take over the famous eye-patch now that Butler is gone, we're officially endorsing Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a current Warner Bros. favorite and emerging star who's work in the genre, from last years Watchmen to this weekend's release The Losers, makes him a dependable choice for the role.
Walter Hamada and Sam Brown are overseeing for New Line.
February 25, 2010 2:17pm EST
The Crazies is a loose remake of a 1973 George Romero flick that most people including yours truly have either forgotten or never heard of. In some cases that kind of ignorance might serve as a hindrance but since The Crazies is a zombie flick and all zombie flicks are essentially the same you can rest assured it won’t bother you here.
B-movie A-listers Timothy Olyphant (A Perfect Getaway Hitman) and Radha Mitchell (Surrogates Silent Hill) star as David and Judy Dutton husband-and-wife residents of the quaint hamlet of Ogden Marsh Iowa home to precisely the kind of close-knit farming community long on assault weapon ownership and short on reliable cell phone access that zombies so famously prefer. The rest of the Crazies cast is filled with faces you vaguely recognize from that movie whose name you can’t recall at the moment. Don’t fret — just about all of them end up dead (or undead).
David is the town sheriff and Judy is the town doctor — a combination which conveniently enough makes them better prepared than anyone to face both a sudden outbreak of the undead flu and the violent anarchy that inevitably follows it. Judy also happens to be pregnant (but not so pregnant as to render her unappealing to male audience members thank God) giving the couple an added incentive to endure the onslaught and not blow each other’s brains out.
First come the zombies infected by bioweapon-tainted tap water followed quickly by members of the U.S. government’s jack-booted heavily-armed clean-up crew. Though their wardrobe and tactics differ both groups exhbit a casual disdain for human life and a seemingly insatiable bloodlust — same menace different uniforms. As government stooges and ravenous zombies compete to determine who will destroy Ogden Marsh first heroes David and Judy scramble to escape the town alive.
Director Breck Eisner son of Michael and the man responsible for 2005's Sahara shows surprising restraint with the gore in The Crazies filling the screen with enough blood to justify the film’s R-rating but not enough to test the gag reflex. He has the good sense to parcel out dialogue and backstory in small bits and pieces keeping the tension high and reducing the groan-worthy moments to a relatively respectable level. There’s nothing particularly original in The Crazies mind you but given the choice between a solidly-crafted retread and an innovative pile of rubbish I'll gladly take the former.