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- 01/04/13--09:00: _FEARnet Move Review...
- 01/04/13--10:00: _Game Review: 'Batma...
- 01/04/13--11:00: _Bagged and Boarded ...
- 01/04/13--12:00: _Watch The Claymatio...
- 01/04/13--13:00: _'Sightseers' German...
- 01/04/13--14:00: _Complete FEARnet 'T...
- 01/04/13--15:00: _The Long Road To Re...
- 01/07/13--09:30: _We Visit the Set of...
- 01/07/13--11:00: _The Creepy Package ...
- 01/07/13--12:00: _The Death-Themed Re...
- 01/07/13--12:30: _'Human Centipede 3'...
- 01/07/13--13:00: _Sneak Peek at the R...
- 01/07/13--14:00: _Book Review: Bev Vi...
- 01/07/13--15:00: _Television Critics ...
- 01/07/13--15:30: _R.I.P. Director Dav...
- 01/07/13--16:00: _Jaume Balaguero Tal...
- 01/07/13--17:00: _Frank Darabont to R...
- 01/09/13--08:00: _Take a Look Behind-...
- 01/09/13--09:00: _First Photos From N...
- 01/09/13--10:00: _'Texas Chainsaw 4' ...
- 01/04/13--09:00: FEARnet Move Review: 'Texas Chainsaw 3D'
- 01/04/13--10:00: Game Review: 'Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition'
- 01/04/13--11:00: Bagged and Boarded Comic Reviews: Morbius, Hellboy and More
- 01/04/13--12:00: Watch The Claymation 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' in 60 Seconds
- 01/04/13--13:00: 'Sightseers' German Poster Is a Knitter's Nightmare
- 01/04/13--14:00: Complete FEARnet 'Texas Chainsaw 3D' Coverage Right Here!
- 01/04/13--15:00: The Long Road To Remaking 'The Evil Dead'
- 01/07/13--09:30: We Visit the Set of the New ‘Evil Dead’
- 01/07/13--11:00: The Creepy Package I Got Thanks to 'The Following'
- 01/07/13--12:00: The Death-Themed Restaurants of Paris
- 01/07/13--12:30: 'Human Centipede 3' To Begin Filming in May
- 01/07/13--13:00: Sneak Peek at the Return of 'Grimm'
- 01/07/13--14:00: Book Review: Bev Vincent's Twenty-First Century King'
- 01/07/13--15:30: R.I.P. Director David R. Ellis
- 01/07/13--16:00: Jaume Balaguero Talks 'Sleep Tight,''[REC] 4,' and Realistic Horror
- 01/07/13--17:00: Frank Darabont to Rewrite 'Godzilla'
- 01/09/13--08:00: Take a Look Behind-the-Scenes of Guillermo del Toro's 'Mama'
- 01/09/13--09:00: First Photos From NBC's 'Hannibal'
- 01/09/13--10:00: 'Texas Chainsaw 4' Is a Go
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has a cinematic legacy that is long, colorful, and pretty darn terrible.
Oh, sure. The original 1974 film still remains an unimpeachable classic of shocking violence and psychotic madness, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) and Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 (1990) are little more than garish geek shows full of stupid splatter for splatter's sake. Fun enough in small doses, but hardly worthy sequels to such a great horror film. Then came 1994's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, which is so outrageously amateurish you won't believe it's considered a finished film. Then we got the slick-but-decent remake in 2003 and a pointless prequel to that remake in 2006. All up to speed now?
Good, because the producers of the brand-new Texas Chainsaw 3D want you to watch their film as if it's the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel ever made. That allows us to dispose of at least three pretty terrible sequels, so I'm on board with the producers' request. Beyond that, however, we'll have to part ways, because Texas Chainsaw 3D is every bit the afterthought of a money-grub sequel that almost all horror sequels manage to be. Chock full of atrocious dialogue, nonsensical plot contortions, and a frankly insipid attempt at turning the nefarious cannibal known as "Leatherface" into a T2-style anti-hero, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D went from a movie I wanted to like to a movie I wanted to burn after about 15 merciless minutes of running time.
Picking up "directly" after the end of the original movie, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D begins with the slaughter of the infamously cannibalistic Sawyer clan, but of course there are a pair of survivors. One is Leatherface the lunatic, and the other is a baby girl who will grow up to inherit a Texas mansion that has a maniacal murderer locked in the basement. Also she's Leatherface's cousin. Suffice to say that Act III is an absolute farce to anyone who remembers that Leatherface used to be a force of mad nature; a freakish man-child who kills to keep his family fed. In this movie he's almost like Freddy Krueger in his later sequels.
If Act I is five minutes of "sequel" and 25 minutes of painfully familiar character set-up, and Act III is like a misshapen combination of Jason Goes to Hell and Terminator 2 (don't ask), one may at least find some fun in the flick's middle section, because that's when the pace really picks up, people get killed in sharp or shocking fashion, and there's a good deal of running, jumping, hiding, and escaping going on. All the relative fun of Act II ends with a car crash, and from that point on the film becomes something almost monumentally stupid. I certainly wouldn't spoil anything for the horror fans who plan to see the movie, but if you like your Leatherface deeply, darkly, distressingly scary -- this is not the movie for you. What was once a primordially scary human monster is now a misunderstood anti-hero who hunts down bad men. No, I'm not kidding.
Beyond the meager moments of escapism offered in the film's mid-section -- and the painfully pretty presence of lead actress Alexandra Daddario -- there's nothing here that horror fans haven't seen before, and probably don't need more of. While it claims to be a direct sequel to a classic film, Texas Chainsaw 3D has no idea what makes the original film so damn scary. It's almost like the four (!) screenwriters and ten producers didn't even watch the original, opting instead for '90s flicks like Urban Legend and Valentine. None of it is scary, the gore is way too chintzy-looking, and the plot is an unnecessarily convoluted mess.
Just stick with the original.
Batman: Arkham City was easily one of the best games of 2011, managing to leapfrog over the more constrained aspects of its predecessor—particularly its linear Arkham Island environments—to deliver a full, rich experience that no Batman game had offered before. Where other Batman games were more focused on the combat aspects, the Arkham games brought all of the Dark Knight’s wonderful toys into the mix, reminding us of why Batman is so damn cool: he’s basically James Bond with deep pockets and even deeper psychological issues. Every man with a pituitary gland wants to be Batman…well, except for the whole dead parents thing.
Batman’s overflowing utility belt is pushed even more into the forefront with Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, a port of the 2011 game for Nintendo’s tech-heavy new Wii U system, which promises to push us even further into the game’s world by basically turning the GamePad into your very own Bat-Computer. However, those who’ve already tamed the wild streets of Arkham City may wonder if it’s worth a revisit. The answer, much like the disfigured Harvey Dent, is quite two-faced.
First, let’s talk the GamePad integration. From the first few moments of the game, it’s apparent that a lot of thought went into how to use the peripheral in an immersive but practical fashion. Batman’s avatar in the game now has a glowing LCD screen mounted on one of his gauntlets (wouldn’t having an illuminated iPad on your arm be counterintuitive to Batman’s stealthier aspects?), and the game immediately reminds you that what you have clutched in your hands is that very system. Communications are transmitted through the GamePad’s modest speaker, which threw me for a loop for a few minutes as I usually have its volume turned down, but it was a subtle touch that did give the game a fresh feel. Inventory management is much more intuitive as well, as opposed to the original game’s attempts at managing your arsenal off of the D-pad. Best of all was the always-on map screen, which saved me plenty of headaches as I navigating the mutilated metropolis of Arkham City. The streets are as expansive as ever, and having the city map only a downward glance away is more convenient than you could imagine.
Gadget integration is also well implemented, with many of the game’s microgames for cracking passwords and descrambling radio chatter now translated onto the touch screen. Shockingly, even controlling Batman’s radio-operated Batarangs feels novel and natural using the built-in gyro sensors in the GamePad, allowing me to take shots that gave me grief in the game when I played it on my 360. There’s also the game’s new B.A.T. mode, which—as Alfred explains rather long-windedly—converts kinetic energy built up in battle into a handy-dandy energy store which you can activate to become even more efficient at battering the mentally ill. It’s an interesting addition, but not one that felt as good as the other changes to the controls. There’s even the ability to push all of the gameplay straight to the GamePad, which does strip out the cool controller aspects, but it does allow you to play Arkham City on the toilet (assuming your crapper is within range), which is commendable in its own right.
Thoughtfully, WB Games included all of the game’s original DLC on-disc, including the Catwoman side quests, although Catwoman now has her own version of the Bat-Computer strapped to her feline forearm. Being a little liberal with who gets access to Wayne tech, aren’t we Bats? There’s also the Harley Quinn’s Revenge add-on, as well as all of the various costumes you had to preorder/pay for in the past. I guess if you’re going to ask consumers to pony up 50 bucks for a year-old game, you’re gonna make sure they get their money’s worth.
Unfortunately, and this is very unfortunate, Arkham City Armored Edition falls prey to the disease that plagues many a launch title. Despite the promised horsepower of the Wii U, which is allegedly greater than either the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, the game is rife with choppiness and graphical glitches which certainly break the immersion that the GamePad establishes, and sometimes even costs you a combo multiplier when Batman’s smooth combat unexpectedly judders. It indicates that the focus on the port, handled by an internal WB studio, was less on smoothly translating the game and more on adding the bells and whistles to justify the port in the first place. It’s reminds me—and this is a weird and dated metaphor—of the old MTV show Pimp My Ride, in which cars were loaded with lots of sweet tech without any real care given to how the car actually ran. It feels sloppy, and certainly knocks your enthusiasm down a few pegs for what is otherwise an excellent reimagining of an already amazing game. Were it not for these inexplicable framerate issues, Arkham City Armored Edition would earn a hearty recommendation. As it stands, it’s a fascinating tech demo for those that want to show off what cool stuff the Wii U brings and don’t feel like loading up ZombiU again.
New comic book Wednesday has come and gone. The dust at your local comic shop has settled. An eerie silence descends as you finish reading your last superhero book of the week. Now it's time for something a little more sinister. Welcome to Bagged and Boarded: comic reviews of the sick, spooky, twisted and terrifying!
Morbius: The Living Vampire No. 1
Picking up after events in Spider-man, this comic focuses solely on the scientist-turned-vampire Michael Morbius. This first issue lays down the laws of his vampiric universe. We get a check list of what kills him, what doesn't kill him, and how he feels about being a living bloodsucker. And we get right into a story about him versus a bunch of thugs in a bad neighborhood of New York.'
Bag it or board it up?
This is a fun comic. This is not the typical, sappy vampire comic. Like many other pillars of the modern vampire comic (30 Days of Night, American Vampire) this comic takes itself seriously. It's full of wit, fast paced Marvel-action, and even a bit of blood. Keep a blood-red, glowing, Morbius-style eye on this one.
Hellboy in Hell No. 2
Hellboy, now dearly departed, continues his journey through hell. This issue he sees things like the city of Pandemonium… now abandoned. He also passes the River Cocytus where he sees how the army of hell (that would be his to command if he wanted it) is forged. His guided then trades him off to another, and we see the actual birthplace of Hellboy!
Bag it or board it up?
This story is a dream come true for any Hellboy fan, but while reading this issue I realized… the story's not what's really shining here.The artwork in this comic, the use of color in a sea of darkness, is spellbinding. Mike Mignola's artwork in this comic is, at times, astonishing to behold. And the coloring by Dave Stewart is the best I've seen in a long time. Get this comic, get it now.
Vincent Price's House of Horrors No. 4
Vincent Price plays the star of a story in this comic. But seeing as he passed away in 1993 it's really just a cash grab using his likeness. The story told in this comic, all at once, is the classic "Build a Better Mousetrap" story about test mice that keep getting smarter and smarter. It's a fine little story in this short comic. But...
Bag it or board it up?
This comic is bizarre. I like the classic tale, but the artwork is clunky and awkward looking. Also, it's incredibly anachronistic. Seeing an illustration of Vincent Price tapping away at a computer just feels wrong. It's almost as bad as seeing a word bubble coming out of his mouth with him saying the word "iPhone" (yes, really). A fine story but I'm not digging the ugly artwork and the techno-upgrade to the story.
Colder No. 3
Declan is the once-crazy, near-frozen gateway to a psychic realm. He and his caregiver Reece are hunted by a psychotic named Nimble Jack, who feasts on insanity. In this issue, the two run from nimble jack and have to dive into the chaotic world of insanity. But doing so pushes Reece's stable mind a bit too far, and we see the beginnings of a collapse between the world of chaotic insanity and our world. It's a lot to follow, and it moves quick, but this plot is truly inventive.
Bag it or board it up?
This is, overall, a deeply interesting and fun comic about insanity. The artwork is beautiful, and the storyline is unlike anything I've read before. But though I do enjoy this comic quite a bit, the "crazy" in this comic is beginning to feel a bit like mass-market crazy. The phrases crazy people in this issue blurt out when driven further insane feel a little too easy in a way that's hard to explain. The writer just grabs words and throws them together, and the insane people in this comic don't end up sounding insane, they end up sounding like a person pretending to be insane. It's a fine line to walk, and it's a lot to pull off, but that's the danger of doing a comic about insanity. Regardless, this is a fun comic with a lot going for it, and worth a read.
Even when he’s made of clay, Leatherface makes a serious mess.
You may know Lee Hardcastle from the short he made for the horror anthology The ABCs of Death,T Is for Toilet. It’s the one with the kid and the killer toilet. A seriously talented guy, Hardcastle actually won the open submission contest Drafthouse Films ran for The ABCs of Death, beating our 169 other submissions.
You can watch Hardcastle’s other claymation, including at 60-second Hostel and Shaun of the Dead,here. Watch the clay-tacular 60-second version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre shot in super 8 below.
Added bonus, more Lee Hardcastle shorts on FEARnet below:
I love this poster for Sightseers. I would wear it as a sweater, or use it as a pillow on my bed. Its tongue-in-cheek design perfectly sums up the charm of Ben Wheatley’s tale of a killer couple on caravan. Really, the plot is something we all can relate to. We have a vision for a holiday and things outside our control threaten to ruin it. Some of us just react more strongly than others.
Here’s the synopsis from Twitch:
Chris (Steve Oram) wants to show Tina (Alice Lowe) his world and he wants to do it his way - on a journey through the British Isles in his beloved Abbey Oxford Caravan. Tina's led a sheltered life and there are things that Chris needs her to see - the Crich Tramway Museum, the Ribblehead Viaduct, the Keswick Pencil Museum and the rolling countryside that accompanies these wonders in his life. But it doesn't take long for the dream to fade. Litterbugs, noisy teenagers and pre-booked caravan sites, not to mention Tina's meddling mother, soon conspire to shatter Chris's dreams and send him, and anyone who rubs him up the wrong way, over a very jagged edge...
'Texas Chainsaw 3D' is now playing in theaters and in preperation for Leatherface's grand return to the big screen, we here at FEARnet have been celebrating the entire Chainsaw franchise for the last two weeks. In the off chance you missed any of these articles, fear not, we've got you totally covered! All our Texas Chainsaw themed coverage is linked below.
Interview with Texas Chainsaw 3D star Alexandra Daddario
FEARnet Movie Review: Texas Chainsaw 3D by Scott Weinberg
Post Mortem with Mick Garris Guest Starring Texas Chainsaw creator Tobe Hooper
Revisiting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Revisiting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Revisiting Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III
Revisiting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4: The Next Generation
Revisiting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 Remake
Revisiting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
OK, by now I trust you've all seen the brand new red-band trailer for The Evil Dead remake? And if not, what are you waiting for?! Go check it out!
I can honestly say that I haven't been this excited for a horror genre movie in years. And it looks like those of you that were disappointed that 'Cabin In The Woods' wasn't a traditional "cabin in the woods" horror movie may finally have your blood thirst sated with this film. The April 12th release date doesn't seem all that far off, but the road of getting The Evil Dead remade has been a really long and complicated one. And believe it or not, it all can be traced back to Freddy Vs Jason. Let's go back and analyze the time-line.
2003 - Freddy Vs Jason opened on August 15th, 2003 to a stronger-than-expected box office and was a surprise success, so naturally New Line immediately started toying with ideas for a potential sequel. The pitch that made it the furthest in the development process was a proposed Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash, based on a treatment written by Jeff Katz. A lot of people were excited at the prospect of pitting Bruce Campbell's Ash against a horror icon like Robert Englund. Well, except for one person. The big hold out on that sequel was Sam Raimi who didn't want to relinquish the rights to the Ash character as he still wanted to make an Evil Dead related film.
2004 - The Evil Dead remake was announced, much to the dismay of die-hard Evil Dead fans; so much so that on-line petitions to "Stop The Evil Dead remake" were surfacing and going strong. Also you have to think about this in context; this was at the time when Ghost House Pictures (Raimi and Rob Tapert's genre based production company) were producing PG-13 rated Japanese remakes like The Grudge. The general consensus was would Evil Dead be neutered in a market place that primarily relied on PG-13 horror for big box-office business?
A glimmer of hope came in the shape of a very unlikely director rumored to be the front runner for the job, Korean director Chan-wook Park who had wowed audiences and studio execs alike with 'Oldboy' (currenly being remade by Spike Lee), as well as the other movies of his "vengeance" trilogy 'Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance' and 'Lady Vengeance' (also currently being remade with Charlize Theron). Raimi confirmed in an interview with Empire "Actually, we did approach him, but I don’t think it was right for him. I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but he was either too busy or not interested."
2005 - While out promoting 'Boogeyman', both Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert announced that they would not only be remaking Evil Dead, but also making an Evil Dead 4 (tentatively titled Army Of Darkness 2) concurrently. Raimi told Bloody-Disgusting, "There will be an Evil Dead 4, and there will ALSO be an Evil Dead Remake. The remake will be produced by Ghost House pictures and it will star a new cast and a completely new director. The point of Ghost House is that we want to bring new directors to Hollywood and give them a chance to make a good horror film. I love the original 'Dawn of the Dead', and I also really enjoyed the new 'Dawn of the Dead'. I mean, they are both really great horror films. I want to let somebody with a fresh vision bring The Evil Dead to a new generation and a new audience with a different vision."
Rumored names being thrown around for the role of Ash for the remake included Justin Theroux (who appeared in David Lynch's Lost Highway and Inland Empire, who later went on to write Tropic Thunder and Iron Man 2), Ashton Kutcher (ugh) and Sean William Scott. None turned out to be true as early on, the producers confirmed there would not be an Ash character in their redux.
In late 2005, Bruce Campbell told Mile High Comic’s The Beat, "We're going to do the remake and none of us feel bad about it because it's our own remake. We're not getting some 1970's TV show out of Aaron Spelling's file draw and making a movie. This is our own movie. So we're gonna update it for a new generation with new effects and tell a new story with a new cast. We'll be pulling the strings from behind. And hopefully they'll like it."
By the end of 2005, various sources were confirming that the remake was on hold/cancelled.
2009 - A few years go by, but in 2009 just coming off of Drag Me To Hell, Raimi jokes with Empire magazine that he and his brother Ivan (whom he co-wrote Army Of Darkness with) had started writing Evil Dead 4. "Every time I'm with my brother Ivan, we write another page of it. It's in Detroit and in my garage. There's some dialogue. Ash being an idiot. Ash taking some abuse. Some character stuff and then some structure of Act Two. Just other possibilities for things that could happen. It's ideas, jokes, things we'd like to see."
Uraguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez posts his super low budget short film "Panic Attack!" on You Tube. The technically impressive short only costs him roughly about $300 dollars to make, but immediately within a day, he gets offers and calls from everyone in Hollywood. Ghost House Pictures snatches him up in an exclusive 7 figure deal and attach him to develop a $30 million dollar sci-fi movie, something unheard of. Variety reported, "Most first-time helmers make $250,000, but Fede Alvarez scored his million-dollar deal based on the heat generated by "Ataque de Panico!" (Panic Attack), a four-minute, 48-second short about an apocalyptic robot attack Alvarez directed through his commercial production house for less than $500. After the short found its way to the Internet and Kanye West featured a link to the film on his blog, a 30-year-old who was not on anyone's radar outside the Uruguayan blurb market suddenly found the biggest agencies in Hollywood in a panic to sign him. That created a chain reaction of activity over two weeks that led to a trip to Hollywood, where he met with every major agency, management firm, and law firm that responded to the short."
2011 - In July of 2011, rumors start that long time Raimi editor Bob Murowski was headed to Detroit to start work on Evil Dead 4 and was quoted as saying it’s "a small indie thing, like the first two." When questioned on Twitter, Bruce Campbell replied, "Believe in the remake, dawg! The project is real. In the works. Cool as hell. Scary as hell."
On July 13th 2011, director Fede Alvarez is officially announced to be the director of the remake written by Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues, with Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer's Body) coming on board to do minor script revisions.
2012 - In August of 2012, Bruce Campbell told Digital Spy, "We're really excited and really behind it, [but] it's going to take a bit to get the "Evil Dead" fans behind it. We know we've pissed a lot of them off. We appreciate that and we appreciate their anger and their zeal, but the only thing we want to impress upon them is that we didn't screw it up. This is going to be just as memorable as [the original] "Evil Dead" without being the same movie. It's a contemporary movie – just like "Evil Dead" was contemporary in 1979, this is contemporary for young adults now…It's basically five new kids who are going to have a really bad night with a brand new director. I've seen it already; I think it's definitely fabulous."
In October of 2012, fans get their first taste of 'The Evil Dead' remake at the New York Comic-Con where director Alvarez, star Jane Levy and producer Bruce Campbell showed the audience the first red-band teaser trailer. Alvarez told the enthusiastic crowd, "When Sam Raimi asks you to do a remake of 'The Evil Dead', you don't say 'I'm sorry. I don't believe in remakes.'"
2013 - Sam Raimi spoke to Collider explaining why he's so thrilled with 'The Evil Dead' remake. "Well, I always thought that 'Evil Dead' was a little campfire story that you tell at a camp to kids to scare them at night. But, I don’t think anybody thought it was a beautifully produced, theatrical experience. It was shot in 16mm, all the effects were done for a quarter, and I always thought it could be done in a big screen movie type way that was really high quality with photographic effects. It could still be just as gritty, but it could be done in stereo and not just mono, and it could be done in 35mm versus 16mm. There were a lot of ways to improve it. There could be much better writing than I was capable of, at the time, as an 18-year-old kid writing that screenplay. And honestly, the directing could be a lot better, and the characterizations could be better. I was very happy with it, but it was something that was crudely done and I thought deserved re-exploration. I thought it would be fun and, in fact, it has turned out to be a tremendous amount of fun because it’s like an old melody that you write and you’ve brought in this really great, cool, young, hip jazz musician, and he’s riffing on it and showing you places it could go that you never dreamed. It’s very exciting for me."
'The Evil Dead' opens on April 12th, 2013.
Whether or not writer-director Fede Alvarez’s upcoming remake of Sam Raimi’s groundbreaking scare machine The Evil Dead is – as its poster boasts – “the most terrifying film you will ever experience”, I’ve little doubt, upon visiting the film’s set near Auckland, New Zealand , that Alvarez, his cast, and his crew are determined to return the Dead saga to its roots. For although Bruce Campbell’s Ash became an iconic figure of splatter comedy in the hilarious Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, the series owes its initial success to the lean, low-budget 1981 original that took the fright business seriously.
Not that there isn’t some room for visual gags, as prosthetics designer Roger Murray explains when he gives me and my fellow gorehound journos a behind-the-scenes look at some of Evil Dead 2013’s effects.
“In one of our first meetings with Fede,” explains Murray, “one of the things that he said he wanted to do was to do as much in-camera make-up effects as possible. We also wanted everything to look as realistic as possible, so the effects had to have a sense of realism to them. We wanted the gags to be… not full-on gags. We have one of the scenes with one of the girls where her hand gets infected and her arm starts rotting off and she decides to cut it off with a kitchen knife.”
Murray’s colleague, make-up and hair designer Jane O'Kane adds, “There comes a point where if you go too far with the make-up it becomes funny and that's not what we were going for at all. Sometimes less is more.”
Rest assured, the new Evil Dead will still offer chainsaws, demons, and hapless teens trapped in a cabin from Hell (which, when we see it on its soundstage, looks even more nightmarish and bloodier than the original’s). This time around, however, the beleaguered protagonist is Mia (Suburgatory’s Jane Levy), a former drug addict trying to recover while on a vacation with her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and their friends (played by Cloverfield’s Jessica Lucas, Carriers’ Lou Taylor Pucci, and Legend of the Seeker’s Elizabeth Blackmore). It’s these hapless teens who encounter the Book of the Dead.
"Our idea,” production designer Robert Gillies explains as he shows us the infamous tome, “is that the book has been around since maybe the 15th century; and as the centuries go on, the book would be passed around. So there's notes in all different kinds of languages. As we approached the 20th century, you can see that perhaps the writing got a bit more disrespectful because of the people whose hands it fell into."
"The thing with the original book is that the cover has the face on it and that's a copyright issue. So because of that, we’re just comfortable with the idea of having a skin cover on ours and it being something original. We stayed as far away from that original iconic face, while still being faithful to the spirit of the book, as we possibly could."
Gillies tells us that three books were made for the film, as I touch the silicone cover of the volume in front of me, and admire the faux aged pages with pieces of hair sewn in. Each page, explains the designer, is hand-detailed.
The same level of craftsmanship is applied to the cabin itself, almost Rube Goldberg-like in its layout, with rooms that can move to suit the requirements of filming.
"The most challenging effect, or aspect [of production], has been creating the cabin and creating what we needed in order to make it work shooting inside of it, and doing all of it practically. But once we cracked this idea of the ceiling going up and down and all the stuff with the basement and the rooms moving, that really allowed us to accomplish everything we've wanted to accomplish on this."
Gillies says that the new Evil Dead producers – Raimi and his partner, original Dead producer Robert G. Tapert – were involved in all the major decisions of production.
"Yes,” he says, “there are classic re-creations of those key moments from the original Evil Dead but they won't be exactly like you'd be expecting them."
After checking out the effects workshop we sit down to chat with Alvarez, Tapert and their cast. The director – who hails from Uruguray and is now making his feature film debut – describes how he was brought on board.
“One day I get a call saying, ‘Hey, it seems like Sam wants you to remake Evil Dead for him.’ ‘What?!’ I tried to figure out what to do. On the same day I talked to Sam and I was like, ‘Do you have a script? Do you have an idea?’ He was like, ‘Hell no. Do you?" I said, "Well, how about this…" And we pitched something to him. It wasn't exactly the story [we have now], but the tone was there. I was trying to make the movie I saw when I was twelve. I watched Evil Dead when I was twelve years old. I went to the video store and I asked for the scariest movie they could give me. The guy looked around and said, ‘Here, take this.’ I was like, ‘What? It looks like a porn movie.’ It wasn't a very fancy edition of the movie.
“I remember [the cover featured] Shelley in the basement. It was something that seemed horrific. And it still is. We were talking about this the other day… When we got to that moment it kind of happened in a similar way. We had to do a deadite in the cellar. It was kind of a flashback, remembering what it was like to see that face for the first time and to try to make something scarier when remaking it. That was the biggest challenge. Basically what we pitched to Raimi was doing a movie in the same tone, with the same horror that I personally experienced when I watched it for the first time. Of course when you're twelve [it's scary]. Today you can watch The Evil Dead and go, ‘Oh, it's campy!’ But then I didn't laugh at any moment. It was traumatic. I was twelve and it was something I shouldn't have done. I should have been way older. What we pitched to Sam then was the story and that same tone. We thought it was violent, it was horrific and it was pretty cool at the same time, because you're watching something you're not supposed to watch. And Sam said yes right away.”
Tappert shares his thoughts on going back to his Dead roots.
“Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, we loved them, but they never really worked for a wider audience. DVD-wise, download-wise, Evil Dead 1 still outpaces those movies in terms of people who watch it. So even though Drag Me to Hell was its own thing and had that borderline tone at times, I think the audience never knew exactly how to react. I think straightforward horror [works]. I mean [the comedic elements can play] for film fans, but The Cabin in The Woods didn't translate into a huge audience at the end of the day. We wanted straightforward horror and that's what [Fede did].”
Alvarez says that fans will see the original Dead’s car (Raimi’s beloved “Classic” model, which featured in both sequels), as well as some of the zooms and Dutch-angle shots that have come to be associated with The Evil Dead. He also explains his decision to feature a new protagonist in his script (which underwent a minor rewrite at the hands of Diablo Cody).
“I've been a fan of this forever and I'm not going to touch Ash,” he says simply. “That's something you don't do.”
Levy, Alvarez’s redheaded heroine, chimes in. “We're doing everything that you see. I don't know how much I'm allowed to give away, but at one point I vomit all over somebody. A lot of vomit. Like, a shit-ton of fluid. I had a tube practically down my throat, and I'm on top of this girl and vomiting all over her. When you actually do something like that – I don't think I can actually describe the sensation – but I actually went to the corner and cried. I'm really sensitive. But I felt like I was really drowning my friend Jessica, it felt so bad. I was shaking.
“It got up her nose, it was coming out of everywhere, and she stood right up and was like, ‘Yep, let's do it again!’ and I was in the corner crying. It's really violent. When we were in the audition room, Bruce [Campbell, who’s returning as producer,] was like, ‘Do you know what it's like to be buried alive? Do you know what it feels like?’ And, of course, I wanted the job, so I was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, bring it on!’ Then you do it, it's hard. But like I said, you'll see it in the movie. I think it'll reflect in our performances. It's as real as you can get without actually hurting each other.”
“Bruce was trying to scare everybody,” laughs Alvarez, “’Have you ever done this kind of make-up? You're going to be miserable’ ‘I haven't, but I'm ready to try!’ ‘You're not going to like it.’”
Tapert explains the producers’ once controversial decision to pursue a remake.
“It was interesting that it was Sam who was most for it. I was relatively indifferent, and Bruce was kind of dead-set against it. And that kind of drifted on for a number of years. We were working with Fede on another project called ‘Panic Attack.’ And as it became very apparent that there were other movies that had similar storylines that were gonna get to theaters beforehand… We really like Fede and he’s a smart guy, and we had enjoyed this experience. The beauty of [Fede’s pitch] and what got Bruce aboard was there was no Ash character. And up until that time, that was the tripping point. Everyone else we spoke to had talked about this or ‘Oh, let’s make Ash into this or do that.’ None of those were the right thing that were gonna get it made. And it was that Fede actually brought that linchpin to getting the project made, saying, ‘We’re not gonna deal with that, we’re gonna go in a different direction.’
Horror fans everywhere will have a chance to experience that direction for themselves when the new Evil Dead opens on April 12th.
My Friday night started much like Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven:" "Once upon a midnight dreary (or about 9pm), while I pondered weak and weary (I was getting over a cold) Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore (or television) ... Suddenly there came a tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door (it was the doorbell.)"
Anyway, so someone is at the door late on Friday night, and we weren't expecting anyone. My husband goes to the door. No one there. He goes onto the porch. There is a long pause before he comes inside with a large box. "Alyse, I think this is a promo for you... I hope it's a promo."
Sure enough, this large head-sized box, covered with Poe's writings, was a promo - for Fox's The Following, starring Kevin Bacon. And sure enough, there was a head inside - or rather, a terrifying mask of Edgar Allen Poe, along with a cordial black "invitation" that contained the DVD screener of the show. According to a note in the box (sadly, not scrawled maniacally, but typed on official Fox letterhead) informed me that this mask features prominently in upcoming episodes. Enjoy the "unboxing" below.
The Following is about a serial killer, Joe Carroll, who taught literature before changing careers to become a murderer. He killed 14 girls, all as an ode to Edgar Allen Poe, before he was caught and put on death row. As The Following opens, Carroll has escaped prison, and former FBI agent Ryan Hardy - who captured Carroll the first time around - is brought in to consult on the case. The Following premieres January 21st on Fox.
Themed restaurants (at least in the States) are generally tired affairs: big-money chains with average-at-best food that are aimed towards tourists from other countries or small towns. But what may have very well been the world’s first themed restaurant was themed around Hell.
Le Café de L'Enfer (or Cafe Hell) was a restaurant and cabaret located in the Montmarte “red light” district of Paris. It operated from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, not far from the famous Grand Guignol theater (which offered shows consisting of murder, mayhem, and spectacular special effects.) To enter the cafe, you would have to walk through the gaping maw of an angry hellspawn, securing your entrance to Hell. Once inside, a doorman in a devil suit would greet diners with “Enter and be damned!” The waiters would be dressed as demons as well. William Chambers Morrow wrote a first hand account in his 1899 book, Bohemian Paris of To-day:“One of the imps came to take our order; it was for three coffees, black, with cognac; and this is how he shrieked the order: ‘Three seething bumpers of molten sins, with a dash of brimstone intensifier!’ Then, when he had brought it, ‘This will season your intestines, and render them invulnerable, for a time at least, to the tortures of the melted iron that will be soon poured down your throats.’” Satan strolled among patrons, taunting them. The cavernous interior was decorated with hideous, writhing souls and the demons that were torturing them, and the lighting mimicked flames. Sounds like fun. For those who love irony, for a time, a similar themed restaurant called Cabaret du Ciel (or Heaven) opened up next door.
Just down the street from L’Enfer was another “death cafe,” Cabaret du Neant (or the Cabaret of Nothingness), perfect for an after-dinner drink and a show. While L’Enfer was bustling with constant, chaotic movement, Neant was far more somber and quiet. The lighting effects here made patrons look green and sickly. The maitre d’ and servers were all dressed as undertakers and pall bearers; the tables in the bar were overturned coffins. The walls were decorated with bones, battle scenes, and guillotines in action. Chandeliers made of human bones hung from the ceiling. Keeping with the bleak atmosphere and sense of malaise, servers would put in drink orders like “One microbe of Asiatic cholera from the last corpse, one leg of a lively cancer, and one sample of our consumption germ!” When the drinks were consumed, patrons were led to another room where they would enjoy an illusion show that included paintings that shifted from humans to skeletons, dancing skeletons, and peepholes that reveal “gruesome tableaus.” It is thought that these illusions were the direct inspiration for a number of the effects in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion (most notably, the shifting paintings in the hallway; the ones in the attic; and possibly even the hitchhiking ghosts.)
The operating dates of both these venues are a little hazy. The both seemed to open in the latter half of the 19th century, and closed around WWII. L’Enfer’s facade, however, still stood into the late 1950s.
The Human Centipede 3 is ready to start filming in May - for real this time. Nearly a year ago, production was halted before it even began over contract disputes between writer / director Tom Six and Centipede 1 star Dieter Laser. The legal dispute has been settled, everyone is friends again, and Laser will appear in HC3 as Tom Six intended.
Ilona Six, Centipede producer and Tom's sister, told EW that Laser will star in part three, along with Laurence R. Harvey, star of part two. The pair will play "a new, villainous duo with a storyline no one will expect." Ilona also says that "a big American celebrity" will have a cameo, and she confirms that the human centipede will be over 500 people long.
On the script, Tom says: "I know my Human Centipede 3 will be very politically incorrect, but I didn’t want to change anything in the script. I am very happy Dieter will follow my vision for a full 100% now and know he is absolutely the most brilliant actor I could wish for.”
NBC just released a sneak peek video for Grimm, which returns to finish out its second season on March 8th. The first half of the video is recap, but then we get to the good stuff: Captain Renard, the royals, and what the diabolical plan against Nick is. It looks like we may be moving away from the procedural side of the show and giving more focus to the mythology. I'm all for it.
What fun it must have been to be a Stephen King fan in the 1980s! Stephen King was releasing new material at an exponential rate (twenty-two books between 1980 and 1989, most of which were bestsellers), King films were coming out left and right, the man appeared on the cover of Time in 1986, and an explosion of criticism centered around this relatively new author erupted. In 1982, the first iteration of Douglas Winter’s The Art of Darkness proved a watershed moment in King study, catalyzing the entire King criticism movement. George Beahm released what proved to be the most accessible book for a King dilettante, The Stephen King Companion. Starmont House, a small publisher known for their innovative works of serious SF/Fantasy/Horror criticism, released no fewer than thirteen books on King.
Then things seemed to dry up. I say seemed to; King criticism has never really gone away. Many of the most important books on King – Spignesi’s The Stephen King Encyclopedia, for example, and Rocky Wood’s Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished– were still in the future. But many of the contemporary books seemed to focus on King’s more established work, or to focus on an overarching facet of King’s career, such as the Dark Tower series. Finding criticism of King’s recent work proves difficult; Twayne’s masterful United States Authors series gave up after Stephen King: The Second Decade… an unfortunate gap that only grows wider as King enters his fifth decade of publishing. The Internet has democratized criticism of King’s newest work, but the fact that anyone can publish a review online is a double-edged sword. For every diamond in the rough, there are a dozen blogs and forum posts that don’t even bother to spell the man’s name correctly.
How refreshing, then, to have a book like Bev Vincent’s Twenty-First Century King. Bev Vincent, author of the unprecedented Stephen King Illustrated Companion and the career-spanning exegesis The Road to the Dark Tower, has been publishing Stephen King criticism since the Internet was in its infancy. Now, happily, his criticism of King’s most recent decade-plus (2000-2012) is collected in this slim, accessible volume. Drawn from a variety of sources – including Onyx Reviews, Vincent’s News from the Dead Zone column in Cemetery Dance magazine, and FEARnet.com – and focusing almost entirely on King’s book-length work, Twenty-First Century King is a whirlwind of criticism. It’s breathtaking to see all these reviews in one place, and to comprehend the sweep of King’s output in this most recent decade.
It also works as a series of snapshots of time. Starting with King’s 2000 eBook experiment, Riding the Bullet, Vincent hasn’t excised much from his original review; thus, we are treated to the issues that Mac and WebTV (!) users had with downloading the story, back in the day. Happily, Vincent reviews the story rather than the method of publication (a practice King mused was not common later in Everything’s Eventual), and – without calling attention to it – underscores the fact that 2000 was wildly different than 2011 and 2012, when King released eBooks like Mile 81 and A Face In the Crowd, and readers were far more concerned with the stories than their delivery.
From there, Vincent delves into the decade, never tipping too far into scholarly discourse and never becoming a sycophant. It’s fascinating to read frank criticisms of a novel like Cell, while at the same time read wild praise about King’s landmark On Writing. Interestingly, the reviews grow longer as they march toward the present; along the way, Vincent grows more insightful and digs deeper into each book to find out why they tick. As interesting as it is to see the grand sweep of King’s books from 2000-2012, it’s just as exciting to watch Bev Vincent’s progress as a writer.
Hopefully heralding more books of this sort, Bev Vincent’s Twenty-First Century King is a terrific first step toward recognizing Stephen King’s current work, and placing it in its proper context.
Kevin Quigley is an author whose website, CharnelHouseSK.com, is one of the leading online sources for Stephen King news, reviews, and information. He has written several books on Stephen King for Cemetery Dance Publications, including Chart of Darkness, Blood In Your Ears, and Stephen King Limited, and co-wrote the upcoming Stephen King Illustrated Movie Trivia Book. His first novel, I’m On Fire, is forthcoming.
Twice a year, the Television Critic's Association holds a week-long series of panels with producers and network executives to preview what is on the slate. All week, we will cull together the most interesting bits of genre television news so you don't have to slog through crap on The Biggest Loser to get to the good stuff.
A&E has announced a premiere date for it's highly anticipated drama: Monday, March 18th at 10pm. The series, which will have an initial 10-episode run, promises to be "inspired by" Hitchcock; not an "homage." "The mythology that you think is what dictates the relationship between Norma and Norman is not what it's going to turn out to be," promises showrunner Carlton Cuse. Cuse also states that he doesn't foresee Marion Crane (the character made famous in Psycho by Janet Leigh and the shower) showing up on the series at all. The pilot seems to promise many a gruesome mystery, including the death of Norman Bates's father, and a diary that Norman discovers when his mom buys the motel, that details the torture and murder of a girl.
Hannibal and Mockingbird Lane
Some troubling news regardng Bryan Fuller's serial killer tale: NBC still doesn't have a premiere date for it. NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt says of the dark serial killer drama that if it doesn't make it to air by the end of the season, it could "fit nicely" into summer season. His comments of "It's very well crafted" seems like the execs found it a little too dark, and just don't know what the hell to do with it. Hannibal is "well into' production on its 13-episode commitment, so they have to do something with it. NBC does not have a great track record with Fuller. His The Munsters reboot, Mockingbird Lane, which was years (and allegedly $10 million) in development was sentenced to a last-minute Halloween run before officially getting the axe. As for another attempt at a Munsters reboot, Greenblatt says, "I'm not saying we won't maybe try another version of The Munsters again, it's a good idea, we just have to figure out how to get it right." In other words, "Never say never, but it's not going to happen on my watch."
As of right now, this is still a go for fall.
Director David R. Ellis died early this morning. Best known for Snakes on a Plane, the director was 60 years old.
Ellis is probably best known for the Samuel L. Jackson shlockfest Snakes on a Plane. Other genre titles to his name include Final Destination 2, The Final Destination, Asylum, and Shark Night 3D. As a second unit director, Ellis worked on Clear and Present Danger, Waterworld, Sphere, Deep Blue Sea, The Perfect Storm, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Most recently, Ellis was directing the second unit on R.I.P.D. as well as prepping his next film, Kite.
Ellis got his start in Hollywood in the 1970s as a stunt man and later, stunt coordinator, with roles in such projects as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Scarface, Misery, The Addams Family, and Warlock: The Armageddon.
Ellis died suddenly in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was working on his next film, Kite. Cause of death is unknown at this time.
Horror fans certainly know the name Jaume Balagueró. Known for his infectious and terrifying series of [REC] films (remade here in the states as Quarantine), the director stepped back from the world of hardcore effects, viral scares, and creepy found footage to frighten his fans with something a bit more quiet and realistic. Sleep Tight (out on Blu-ray and DVD on January 8 from Dark Sky Films) is a fantastic little thriller that deserves a much bigger audience. What it lacks in gory special effects and zombie craziness, it easily makes up for in its subtle, old-school horror feel and its characterization of one very twisted individual.
FEARnet recently sat down with writer/director Jaume Balagueró to discuss his latest horror film, his upcoming film [REC]⁴, and the appeal of realistic horror.
Sleep Tight actually reminds me a bit of what I think is your most underrated movie, Darkness. They both have more of a slow burn, thriller-esque feel to them as opposed to something like the [REC] films that are more pure horror. After being immersed in the [REC] films for the last few years, how different was it to go back to something like Sleep Tight that was a little bit quieter in tone and pacing?
After the experience of [REC], which was set up to be very intense physical horror in both plot and pacing, I felt the need to return to a more conventional and calculated film. The script for Sleep Tight came to me at just the right time. It was the perfect opportunity to develop a classic story and to explore horror from a more conventional sense. Being calmer, it allowed me to create a much more sophisticated brand of suspense – with classic elements of conventional film language, such as its music, editing, and staging.
In the beginning of the film, the voiceover says "there's always a way to be happy." Do you feel like Sleep Tight's main character César truly believes the only way for him to be happy is for him to make others miserable? Or do you think that's more of an excuse he tells himself to relieve the guilt of his urge to do all these terrible things he does to Clara (and presumably others before her)?
It’s hard to tell, but I'm sure that César has convinced himself of his inability to be happy. In that belief, there is something terrible but profoundly human. Satisfaction in the failure of others is much more common than we think, and although it makes us uncomfortable to admit it, we have all had those feelings. The problem here is that César takes this feeling far beyond what is acceptable, transforming himself into an extremely dangerous and unpredictable psychopath.
Sleep Tight is a very pure thriller/horror in the sense that there are not nearly as much effects work needed as something like the [REC] films. I can think of a few scenes that would have needed it (the fight, for example), but for the most part the film gets its scares through effective use of music, quietness, subtlety, and great acting. Did it feel good to be able to do something a little less effects heavy or do you prefer to work on the more fantastical films with loads of effects work?
In the broadest sense, I’m a lover of fantasy films. I love movies with special effects just as much as films that are based more heavily on characters and plot. I think every story calls for a different type of film. Sleep Tight is a horror story about the everyday world, based on the little things all around us that we recognize. The less special effects we put in it, the more believable it would be.
The first sleeping scene, when César crawls out and puts the mask on, is done in nearly complete silence. Most less-skilled directors would have placed some subtle score over it to build the tension. Tell me about your decision to keep it silent. Do you feel that silence tends to be creepier and scarier than emotion driven by music?
In this case, it was clear that the more realistic we presented everything, the more disturbing it would all be to the viewer. The absence of music and sound effects make the viewer feel like they’re there with our characters. Silence, having the scene in near real-time, the hyper-realistic sound of Clara breathing as she sleeps, and César’s small gestures are far more threatening than any music.
Are there any films that you looked at (or showed your crew) as inspiration before, or while, shooting Sleep Tight?
When I start working on a new film I always make the effort to clear my head of any references, which is not easy, I assure you! From scratch, I try not to be influenced by all of the movies I have inside my head – although I inevitably end up influenced by things I’ve seen and loved. A director is largely what he or she has lived and seen. Despite this, there was a movie that I did always keep in mind, although I avoided seeing it again: Roman Polanski’s The Tenant.
What's next for you? Is there anything you can tell us about [REC]⁴ Apocalypse?
[REC]⁴ will be my next movie. In fact, we’re already in preproduction. I can’t say much, really – only that it will reveal a lot of secrets, and will be a return to pure and simple horror.
Jaume Balagueró’s Sleep Tight hits stores on Blu-ray and DVD on January 8.
Frank Darabont has been brought in to do a final rewrite on the upcoming Warner Bros. / Legendary Pictures Godzilla reboot. The original script comes from Max Borenstein, who wrote The Seventh Son. Godzilla is set to go into production March, with a May 16, 2014 release date.
Further complicating the Godzilla project is a dispute between Legendary and producers Dan Lin and Roy Lee. It seems that the pair are exiting the project, though it is a little unclear as to who called off the business relationship. Hitfix declares the split to be amicable, while Deadline says the producers wouldn't lower the fees they signed on for and Legendary feels they are within their rights to fire the pair and cut them out of credit and future profits.
With all this drama, I am getting more and more nervous about this Godzilla. I am hoping that it will be an epically awesome giant monster movie... but right now I would just be happy if it is better than the 1998 Roland Emmerich / Matthew Broderick crime against humanity.
Looking forward to Mama? Quench your thirst for this new ghost story produced by Guillermo del Toro with a behind-the-scenes featurette in which del Toro, and stars Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau talk about what makes Mama unique. Mama tells the story of two young orphans who are discovered living deep in the woods, alone for years. They are brought back to civilization and deposited into the care of their uncle and his girlfriend. As the girls learn how to function in society, it becomes clear that whatever was caring for them in the woods has followed them into the suburbs, and does not want to be replaced. Mama opens in theaters January 18th.
Although Bryan Fuller's Hannibal has been in the works at NBC since last spring, it looks like there is a good chance it won't make to television until this summer. The series stars Hugh Dancy as FBI criminal profiler Will Graham who enlists in the help of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (played by Mads Mikkelsen) when he hits a brick wall in a particularly complicated case. Of course, Graham doesn't know that Lecter himself is a serial killer.
To help hold you over until NBC decides to air the series, here are some of the first photos from Hannibal - including your first look at Hannibal himself. (He looks far different than Anthony Hopkins's Hannibal.)
Texas Chainsaw 3D is killing it in theaters and Millennium Films just announced a plan to go ahead with the next installment of the reboot, Texas Chainsaw 4. Production will begin this year in Louisiana and will include producer Carl Mazzocone, as well as exec producers Mark Burg, Avi Lerner, Tobe Hooper, Trevor Short, John Thompson, Danny Dimbort, Lati Grobman and Christa Campbell.
No word on a writer or director as of yet, if it will be in 3D, or if Dan Yeager will return. Also, the title is a little confusing. Why Texas Chainsaw 4? Wouldn’t that mean they skipped an installment in this franchise?