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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Swedish Vampires and the King of the Zombies

I've got a couple of great trailers to share with you shameless horror hounds today, both of which can be found on the excellent movie trailer blog, Gnolad.
First off is Let Me In (a.k.a. Låt den Rätte Komma In), a Swedish (yes, Swedish) film about a little boy who befriends a little girl who turns out to be a little vampire. Of course, there'll be no chance of this getting a U.S. theatrical release, but it comes out in Sweden in April, so get your plane tickets now! I guess the best we can hope for is DVD. First [REC], then Descendents, now this. Is it just me, or does it seem lately that with all the shlock being passed off as horror movies in the American market these days, filmmakers in other countries are taking advantage and co-opting the genre? Hey, fine with me--whatever leads to quality output.

And the other trailer is for a documentary by the superbly named Rusty Nails (any relation to Dusty Rhodes?), all about our favorite ghoul auteur, Mr. George A. Romero. The film is Dead On: The Cinema of George A. Romero (I probably would've gone with "Director of the Dead"), and is currently in the final stages of production, with no release date set. Nails includes comments from the likes of Quentin Tarantino (who, as an unknown, used to claim on his resume that he was the sidecar biker in Dawn of the Dead), Ed Harris, Robert Rodriguez, Stephen King, Rob Zombie, Danny Boyle, John Carpenter, John Waters, Roger Ebert (who hopefully will explain why he bemoaned NOTLD for ruining America's youth in 1968, then lauded praise upon DOTD ten years later), Dario Argento, John Landis, Tom Savini, Glenn Danzig, plus cast members from many of Romero's films. Looking forward to this one.

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Speaking of Romero, just wanted to give kudos to that loveable pussbag Bub for winning the "Favorite Zombie" poll. I should've known there really was no other choice, although Tarman made a respectable showing. Check back tomorrow for a new poll.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wolf Man Update: Cloverfield Director to Step In?

Looks like Universal was watching the box office results of two weekends ago, when Cloverfield cleaned house after a successful marketing blitz that took up most of 2007. According to Ain't It Cool News, Matt Reeves--who helmed the giant monster flick--is currently one of two directors the studio is eyeing to take the place of Mark Romanek, who split the Wolf Man project two days ago over creative differences.
Reeves is also attached to the now-confirmed Cloverfield sequel already in the pre-production stages, so he may not be available to take over the remake, which will star Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt.
The other director being considered is one Breck Eisner, who had previously been attached to Universal's Creature from the Black Lagoon remake.
As for those "creative differences," Ain't It Cool is reporting that Romanek may have been hoping for a greater budget than the $85 million he had been given.

**1/31 UPDATE ** AICN is now reporting that Brett Ratner has been assigned the gig. Now I know he ain't too popular with most fanboys due to his Schumacher-ing of the X-Men franchise, but I'll not lose hope yet. Ratner did direct Red Dragon, which I feel is one of the most wrongfully overlooked thrillers of the decade.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Confirmed: New Nightmare Flick Will Be a Remake!

In Variety's second major horror news break of the day, it has been confirmed that the new Nightmare on Elm Street movie announced a few weeks ago will not be a sequel or a prequel, but will, in fact, be a remake of the 1984 Wes Craven original.
New Line Cinema has assigned the task to Platinum Dunes, the company that produced the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Amityville Horror remakes, and is also in charge of the new Friday the 13th "re-imagining". Oh yeah, and Platinum Dunes is also working on the Near Dark remake for Rogue Pictures, as well as the Birds remake for Universal. So anyone who's pissed about the rash of horror remakes--you now know who to rail against.
No word on whether Robert Englund will be reprising the role of Freddy Krueger, but with the project now being a remake, smart money says the role will be going to someone else this time around.

Wolf Man Director Walks Out!

Variety just dropped two major bombs today, so let's get right into it.
Firstly, it was announced that Mark Romanek has dropped out as director of Universal's Wolf Man remake. Reportedly, Romanek left the project last night due to "creative differences," leaving Universal to pick up the pieces.
Universal is claiming that the project is in good shape, and that a new director will be found right away. They're also saying that a new writer will be brought in to retool the script as soon as the writers' strike is resolved.
Just when it looked like the most promising horror movie of 2009 was back on track, this happens. We can only speculate as to what constituted the creative differences, or whether the announced February 18 start date still stands.

Monday, January 28, 2008

For a Change, Something for Texas Chainsaw Massacre Fans to Be Happy About

Seems there's a very intriguing project currently in the early stages, and you can count me on board from now. Vern at Ain't It Cool News has a fascinating interview up with Christopher Garetano, a young director who is pitching a script for a movie called South Texas Blues.
An ardent TCM fanatic, Garetano has written a screenplay all about the making of Tobe Hooper's original 1974 classic. Not a documentary, mind you, but a fictional movie based on the making of the film (think Shadow of the Vampire or Ed Wood). Further, he plans to include a lot of fantasy or magical realism moments as well (think The Big Lebowski or The Fisher King), making this a very unique concept indeed.
Part of what interests me is Garetano's casting ideas. For instance, he happens to be good friends with Ed Neal, who played the deranged hitchhiker in the original movie, and is considering casting him in the role of Jim Siedow, the actor who played his older brother in the original. And in a particularly inspired move, for the role of Neal he's hoping to cast Ray McKinnon, who played the preacher on the first season of HBO's superb Deadwood. Anyone who's a fan of that show should understand how perfect McKinnon is for the part.
It's a pretty in-depth interview, so I'd suggest checking it out to get the full idea. Garetano seems like a bit of a flake at times, but then, most great thinkers are, so I wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be quite a piece of work.
Here's a little featurette Garetano put together for potential investors in the film. I know if I was an obscenely rich producer, I'd certainly risk a couple mill on it:
Online Videos by Veoh.com

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Almost forgot, I find it necessary to acknowledge the box office triumph this week of Meet the Spartans. This is the strongest evidence I've gotten in years to support my long-held hypothesis that most people are stupid.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Horror Goes to the Oscars

The Academy Award nominations were announced last week, and it was a thrill to see Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street get some of the recognition it deserves. Although the film did not get a Best Picture nom, Johnny Depp was singled out for his performance in the title role, a Best Art Direction nomination went to Dante Ferretti (a previous winner for The Aviator), and a Best Costume Design nomination went to long-time Tim Burton collaborator Colleen Atwood (a previous winner for Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago).
Remarkably, Depp is only the fourth man in the history of the Oscars to snag a Best Actor nomination for performing in a horror movie. Perhaps not so remarkably, since horror films have been woefully under-represented as a rule. Out of curiosity, I did a little research, and came up with the following list of all the men and women who have ever been nominated for performing in a fright flick:
Best Actor
1991 - Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) *
1991 - Robert DeNiro (Cape Fear)
1931 - Fredric March (Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde) *
Best Actress
1991 - Jodie Foster (The Silence of the Lambs) *
1990 - Kathy Bates (Misery) *
1976 - Sissy Spacek (Carrie)
1973 - Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist)
1956 - Nancy Kelly (The Bad Seed)
Best Supporting Actor
2000 - Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire)
1999 - Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense)
1973 - Jason Miller (The Exorcist)
1962 - Victor Buono (Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?)

Best Supporting Actress
1999 - Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense)
1991 - Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear)
1976 - Piper Laurie (Carrie)
1973 - Linda Blair (The Exorcist)
1968 - Ruth Gordon (Rosemary's Baby) *
1960 - Janet Leigh (Psycho)
1956 - Eileen Heckart (The Bad Seed)
1945 - Angela Lansbury (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
* winner
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For those who may be interested, this happens to be The Vault of Horror's 100th post. I started up this site in mid-October and it has been growing ever since. These days, I get seven times the daily visitors I averaged that first month, and three times as many as I got just one month ago. Thanks to getting picked up by BlogBurst, The Vault of Horror has gotten more than 93,000 headline impressions in places like Reuters, USAToday and Fox News--just in the past week alone. Thanks to everyone who's been reading.
Onward and upward!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Diary of the Dead Theater Listings Announced

They're promising this is just a partial list with more to come, and I certainly hope so. I realize that George Romero's Diary of the Dead is only getting a limited theatrical release, but there's got to be at least one moviehouse out here in the wiles of Fairfield County, Connecticut that'll be showing it.
Yesterday, the film's official MySpace page released this set of domestic listings, so check below to see if the flick will be coming to a theater near you in three weeks:

AMC Empire 25
(212) 398-3939

City Cinemas Village East
(212) 529-6998

Landmark Nuart
(310) 281-8223

Mann Chinese (opening 2/22/08)
(323) 464-8111

Landmark Lumiere

(415) 267-4893

Landmark Shattuck
(510) 464-5980

Landmark Ritz - Bourse
(215) 440-1181

AMC Neshaminy

AMC Cherry Hill
(856) 486-7420

Landmark Starz Film Center
(303) 820-3456

AMC Boston Commons
(617) 423-5801

Landmark Kendall Square
(617) 621-1202

AMC Mesquite 30
(972) 724-8000

AMC Gulf Pointe 30
(281) 319-4AMC

Harkins Arizona Mills
(480) 820-0387

Paulson Plaza Theatre
(404) 873-1939

Regal Hollywood 24
(770) 936-8235

Regal Meridian
(206) 622-2434

AMC Alderwood 16
(425) 921-2985

Brand Dolphin Cinema 19
(305) 591-9380

Center Uptown Palladium
(248) 644-3456

AMC Palm Promenade
(858) 558-2AMC

Cinemark South Point 16
(702) 260-4061

Muvico Egyptian 24
(443) 755-8992

AMC Waterfront
(412) 462-6923

ACME Carolina Theatre

Check myspace.com/diaryofthedead for more info.

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I'm proud to announce that beginning with this week, The Vault of Horror will be taking part in the weekly Horror Roundtable over at the aptly named and always insightful Horror Blog. Check it out here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pinhead No Match for the Writers Strike

Bad news today for all you Cenobite fans. Box Office Mojo is reporting that MGM's remake of Clive Barker's 1987 classic Hellraiser has been temporarily derailed. Originally slated to come out in September, the Weinsteins' produced flick has now been bumped to an undetermined 2009 release.
The delay in production would appear to be a result of the ongoing WGA strike, which has also reportedly stalled Eli Roth's next project, Trailer Trash.

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The issue with the Dawn of the Dead music tracks from yesterday's post has been resolved. Feel free to check them out!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Want Some More Dawn of the Dead Music?

Early last month, I posted half of the tracks from the hard-to-find Dawn of the Dead soundtrack CD put out by Trunk Records in 2004. Well, it's taken me a little while to get around to it, but here are the remaining six rare tracks of incidental music from the DeWolfe Library (not the Goblin tunes). Click on them to take a listen, or right-click to save them for yourself. Enjoy:

  1. Cosmogony
  2. Desert de Glace
  3. Dramaturgy
  4. Figment
  5. Sun High
  6. Mall Montage

Get the rest of the tracks here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mulder and Scully to Tangle with a Werewolf?

That seems to be what would be indicated by the spoilerific spy pic below, snapped by a sure-to-be-in-trouble-soon photographer near the Vancouver set of X-Files 2, and sent in yesterday to JoBlo.com:

That's creator/director Chris Carter on the right surveying the special effects handiwork. I was never that into X-Files, but I do recall there was a lycanthropy-themed episode or two during the show's original 1990s run. If that is the direction in which Carter is going, there are going to be a lot of X-heads plenty upset that there will be no continuation/resolution of the epic alien invasion saga, I can tell you that.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Now There Really Will Be Blood!

Could the director of 2007's Best Picture favorite be tackling the horror genre next? Bloody-Disgusting is falling over itself today to report that one of it's top-secret spies on-hand at the Sundance Film Festival has learned that Paul Thomas Anderson is toying with a concept and will hopefully be making a decision on his next project in the coming months.
Anderson's There Will Be Blood (which sounds like it should be a horror movie, but isn't) was announced this morning among the nominees for the Best Picture Oscar. Anderson's previous credits include Boogie Nights and Magnolia.

Monday, January 21, 2008

[REC] Will Mess You Up

Ever since I first heard about it a few weeks back, I've been giving a lot of attention here in the Vault to the intriguing Spanish zombie flick [REC] from directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza. And now finally, with some help from my now close-personal-friend FANCYMOJO over on the Bloody-Disgusting forums, I have managed to get my grubby hands on it and see it for myself.
There have been quite a few movies that have glutted the market during this whole zombie renaissance of the past few years. But none that I have seen have been as effective, as disturbing and as revolutionary as [REC]. Not 28 Days Later, not Dawn of the Dead, not Land of the Dead. This is, quite frankly, a landmark horror film.
Unfortunately, it won't get the full recognition it deserves because it's not getting a theatrical release here in the States. It will, however, be getting an American remake later this year, much like The Ring. Hopefully, as with that movie's Japanese inspiration Ringu, [REC] will reach the audience it should via DVD, and get the attention it deserves as a genre movie of major importance.
Now I'm gonna put myself out there for possible ridicule. I'm a seasoned horror-viewing pro. I don't get spooked all that easily. Yet I will unashamedly admit that as I sat there alone in the dark of my living room watching this thing, I had to pause it a few times to catch my breath. I yelled profanities at the screen. I even got up to turn on a couple lights.
Folks, this is the kind of stuff I would do while watching Night of the Living Dead in my parent's basement as a kid. In the intro to this very site, I talk about my experience of watching The Exorcist at eight years old. I also recall the first time I saw the original Dawn of the Dead when I was 15, and it haunted me for weeks after. Well, this movie brought it all back to me.
And I'm not the only sissy. Check out these live audience reactions from the Catalonian International Film Festival in Sitges, Spain:

From what I understand of the international horror scene, Balaguero and Plaza did not exactly have a sterling reputation, and therefore not much was expected of their latest work. But this time they came through, and in spades. [REC] is told documentary style, portrayed as being the footage recorded for a reality TV show. The main characters are the on-air hostess and her cameraman, who are spending the night at a firehouse and filming whatever happens. It starts out as just another boring night at the station, until the firefighters are called to the site of a bizarre domestic disturbance. The TV crew follows along, only to find themselves trapped inside the building by the military as all hell breaks loose.
This is the finest, most convincing piece of "mockumentary" work I have ever seen--and this is coming from someone who just saw Cloverfield, and enjoyed it. For those who are sickened/annoyed by the whole "shaky camera" thing, I'm afraid this is not the movie for you. If you were bothered by Cloverfield, there's no way you'll be able to handle this. But if you're not bothered by that, then strap in for a deeply unnerving ride.
If I had to point to one glaring flaw, it would be the very contrived and very unnecessary plot exposition scene near the end, wherein screenwriters Balaguero, Plaza and Luis Berdejo attempt to give us an explanation for the outbreak. However, the bad taste that left in my mouth was completely overshadowed by what comes directly after. It's been said elsewhere, but the final five minutes of this movie make up one of the most completely terrifying conclusions I ever recall seeing in a horror movie. Quite literally the stuff of nightmares.
This is the kind of flick you want to share with other fans, so I only hope that anyone interested out there will be able to get their hands on it once it comes out on video. I don't even feel that it needs subtitles to be enjoyed. I watched it both with and without, and I think I enjoyed it more without. Even though I couldn't understand most of the dialogue, I was able to focus completely on the visuals--and this movie is all about what we can and can't see. The emotions of the characters are of much greater importance than their specific dialogue, which doesn't really contain anything very profound.
It's funny, because I was a little concerned with how the success of Cloverfield would affect public perception of George Romero's upcoming zombie mockumentary Diary of the Dead. And now I'm doubly concerned, because although [REC] will not reach as much of an audience as Diary, from an artistic standpoint, it has set the bar pretty high.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Times, They Are A-Changin': A History of Horror Movies, Part 4

Perhaps never in our history was there a time as rife with drastic change as the 1960s. Indeed, the chronology of popular culture can be divided into two periods: before the '60s, and after.
Practically every aspect of our lives were changed, owing to a variety of reasons pundits have debated about ever since: the eye-opening horrors of the Vietnam War--America's most cynical conflict to that point--and the manner in which it was so directly brought into our homes; the brutal assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King; the rise of a youth movement that gave young people more power than ever before; relaxing social mores that led to a sexual revolution and an overall loss of innocence.
Whatever the reasons, America was a very different place in 1969 from what it had been in 1960.
Like everything else, entertainment was not immune to the dramatic changes. And perhaps more than any other genre, horror films underwent a transformation that was as dramatic as it was shocking. By the end of the decade, the modern horror genre would be born.
Even as early as 1960, change was in the air. The first shot would be fired by one of the business' most established and respected directors, Alfred Hitchcock, whose seminal suspense/slasher flick Psycho set a standard that would be a sign of things to come. Here, it was not some outlandish monster, but the guy next door who was the instrument of terror. It was not some baroque fantasy world in which the action was set, but the very real world in which we lived. This would become a hallmark of the modern horror movie.
Still, some vestiges of the old school would persist, most notably in the classic series of Edgar Allen Poe-inspired films from low-budget king Roger Corman and starring Vincent Price. The supernatural aspect of horror was not about to go away in the face of the new reality-based terror. But it was being transformed, as evidenced by films like The Haunting, a superb modern ghost story from 1963.
The modern setting was one thing, but there were many more changes in store. These would be facilitated by the collapse of the restrictive Hays Code in 1964. The code, established 30 years prior by studio heads looking to silence moral watchdogs by toning down the content of their movies, had long held the horror genre in handcuffs. Why it was lifted when it was can be attributed to many causes, but it is impossible to overstate how important the Hays collapse was to the evolution of horror movies. Now the gloves were off.
Two films in particular would signal the arrival of the "new" horror movie. Fittingly, they would also be among the first movies to receive an R rating from the brand-new Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
The first was actually filmed in 1965, the year after the code fell, but wouldn't be released until three years later. The brainchild of a young Pittsburgh filmmaker inspired by both Vincent Price's The Last Man on Earth (1964) and Hitchcock's The Birds (1963), Night of the Living Dead was the ultimate indicator of where horror movies were headed. Mixing strong social commentary with unprecedentedly horrifying imagery, George Romero's landmark vision was a grim and unrelenting nightmare. And the graphic violence depicted--although somewhat tame by today's standards--was enough to inspire revulsion and even condemnation from many critics of the time. Yet it is quite telling that today that very film is included in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.
The other groundbreaker of the era was Rosemary's Baby (1968) from director Roman Polanski. A product of the culture's growing fascination with the occult, the film was blunt in its depiction of Satanic themes, something that would continue to a much greater degree in the next decade. Also worthy of note was the fact that unlike most horror movies of the past, which were B-level flicks, Roesmary's Baby was a top-of-the-line A-level picture--another trend that was to continue.
By the end of the '60s, the change was complete, and horror was more mainstream than ever before. The limits of what it could portray, both thematically and visually, had been pushed beyond anything anyone could have imagined. The decades to come would feel the effects of this overwhelming shift in tone, and take it still further.
Other major releases:

Part 1: The Silent Dead
Part 2: Gods & Monsters
Part 3: It Came from Hollywood
Soon to come: Part 5 - Blood & Guts

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dario Argento to Make First English-Language Movie in 15 Years

Acclaimed Italian horror auteur Dario Argento will next be directing an English-language film, according to a story posted to The Hollywood Reporter yesterday.
Contrary to the report, however--and to oft-repeated accounts elsewhere on the 'net--it is not his first. That would be 1985's Phenomena, which helped launch the career of my beloved Jennifer Connelly. Argento also helmed the full-on Hollywood production Trauma in 1993.
The film will be appropriately entitled Giallo, a reference to the Italian thriller/slasher movie genre of the same name. The tale of a serial killer and the detective who is desperate to stop him, it will star Ray Liotta, Vincent Gallo and Dario's lovely daughter Asia, pictured here (Madonna mia!)
Argento's star has been on the rise in the U.S. lately thanks to Jenifer and Pelts, two episodes he made for the Showtime Masters of Horror TV series. He is best known for the 1977 blood-soaked classic Suspiria, featuring the hardest-to-watch death scene in horror history (two words: razor wire).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cloverfield Sequel ALREADY in the Works?

These days, it seems no one lets the grass grow under their feet--not even giant monsters.
This morning, Bloody-Disgusting posted an exclusive interview with Cloverfield director Matt Reeves from the official premiere of his sure-to-be blockbuster.
During the interview, Reeves gave credence to rumors of a planned sequel, even speculating as to what it could be about:
"While we were on set making the film, we talked about the possibilities and directions of how a sequel can go. The fun of this movie was that it might not have been the only movie being made that night, there might be another movie! In today’s day and age of people filming their lives on their iPhones and handy cams, uploading it to YouTube…That was kind of exciting thinking about that."
Further, the film's writer Drew Goddard indicated that the PG-13 creature feature was originally intended to be a lot more graphically violent:

"The original draft was much more brutal. I wanted a hard R and we didn’t get a hard R, they read it and said this is way to brutal. I will say that I think we pushed the limits on a PG-13 rating. We certainly shot a harder version than what is on the screen. We originally wanted it to be more bloody and disgusting." [Nice plug, guys!]

Well, at least it'll be relatively safe for me to take my monster-lovin' kids to see this weekend. Apparently, Goddard dodged the interesting question of whether a re-edited version of the film will make it to DVD (which means the likely answer is "Yes".)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day of the Dead "Remake" Trailer

I must really be a sucker for zombies if I'm continuing to give pub to this supposed abomination. Everything heard and seen regarding this disaster points to it being inevitably awful--most recently the announcement of its April 8 direct-to-DVD release. Still, if there's living dead involved, I just can't help myself. And yes, it's already on my Netflix queue.
Basically, aside from the military setting, it doesn't seem to be a true remake at all, or even a sequel to the Dawn of the Dead remake. It looks like it's set at the beginning of an undead uprising--as opposed to the original, which was set months after the undead had already taken over the earth. They did retain the character of Bub, the sympathetic zombie--although they have inexplicably changed his name to Bud. You can catch a brief glimpse of him at the end of this trailer, which debuted on Monday on MySpaceTV:

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In an unrelated note, I just have to say that I feel kind of saddened to live in a world where it takes the Associated Press five days to cover the death of Vampira, yet after 20 hours there are 11 pages of Google News results on the death of Brad Renfro.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Burton and Depp Do It Again

I never was one to include Tim Burton among the truly "great" directors of our times. The man can be maddeningly erratic, going from Ed Wood and Big Fish to Mars Attacks and Planet of the Apes. But when he's good, he's really good.
From the start, I knew that Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street would be the perfect material for his gothic sensibilities. Add Johnny Depp, easily the finest American actor under 50, and you have a highly satisfying cinematic experience.
Ironically, my biggest hesitation regarding the movie had nothing to do with Burton or Depp, but rather with Stephen Sondheim, the composer. Unlike most of the boorish clods bashing this movie on messageboards far and wide, I have no problem with musicals. I happen to love them. It's just that, when it comes to musicals, I'll take Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, et al over Sondheim and his post-modern ilk anyday. I just don't find him melodic, and with the exception of the stirring "Joanna", there's no song I really took away with me from the theater. I know I'll catch heat for this, but when it comes to horror musicals, I think I may ever-so-slightly prefer Joel Schumacher's adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera.
OK, now that I got that piece of blasphemy out of the way, let's talk about what I did like. Burton has gotten so good at setting the kind of tone this movie needs that its positively a joy to watch unfold. This is a fully realized other-dimensional version of early Victorian England. And when you compare this film to a similarly-toned work like Sleepy Hollow (which I also love), you can really observe how far he's come as a filmmaker over the years.
Depp, as always, is excellent. While I wouldn't say he can sing, he can at least carry a tune--his acting takes him the rest of the way. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the flick's true scene-stealer, Timothy Spall (pictured), a true pro who adds so much nuance and subtlety to the role of the Beadle, which on paper could have been just another two-dimensional flunky. Sacha Baron Cohen--a.k.a. Borat--is perfectly cast as the flamboyant Pirelli, who gets his just desserts in the film's first shocking moment of bloodshed.
Speaking of which, in case you've been living under a rock, I should warn you there is a copious amount of plasma shed in this motion picture. It's all very stylized, and the blood is a Dawn-of-the-Dead shade of crayon red, but even still--we're talking about enough crimson to fill a blood bank. Kudos to Burton for not skimping on what made this musical so memorable in the first place.
If you love horror and musicals like I do, then this movie is a lot of fun. Even if musicals have never been your thing, at least try to have an open mind, especially if you enjoy Burton's work. Sweeney Todd has always had a very polarizing effect on audiences, and it's been no different this time. Musical fans have been turned off by the gore, and horror fans have been turned off by the singing. It's quite an enigmatic work in that regard. Yet beyond genre, there are really only two kinds of movies: good and bad. And Sweeney Todd falls into the first category.

Monday, January 14, 2008

MEGA-SPOILER! Cloverfield Monster Revealed

With mere days to go, the Cloverfield hype machine is cranking at a fever pitch, and now the mother of all spoilers has dropped. This is something that has been out there for a couple of days now, but owing to my exceptional journalistic integrity, I was sitting on it until it could be reasonably confirmed.

The drawing of the giant beastie that tears up Manhattan in the film that opens this weekend first appeared on /Film a couple of days ago, and now the fanboys over at Unfiction have apparently confirmed that it was made by someone who actually attended an advanced screening of the movie:

(Note to self: If you ever make a giant monster movie, make sure not to invite any professional illustrators to the advanced screening.)

I will say that the extra set of massive claws is a neat touch, but other than that, it seems decidedly run-of-the-mill after all the hype we've been inundated with. Then again, could anything live up to it? I think movie marketers are going to find that is the problem with this new viral craze--it inevitably leads to backlash and disappointment. Of course, all the webgeeks also need to realize that they probably make up 15-20% of the people who will be going to see this movie, tops. Meaning that the vast majority of its sure-to-be-record-setting audience this weekend has probably never been exposed to a single pixel of Cloverfield internet propaganda.

For several more fan illustrations of the monster, go to /Film.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

TCM Pays Tribute to a Master

Fans of vintage horror would do well to plant themselves in front of the tube--or at least have their TiVos set--tomorrow night. That's because the always-excellent Turner Classic Movies has a night of Val Lewton in store.
To kick it off at 8p.m., Martin Scorsese presents Val Lewton - The Man in the Shadows, a new documentary on the man who produced the finest fright films of the 1940s. The doc will be followed by a marathon that includes eight of Lewton's nine horror pics: Cat People (1942), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), The Leopard Man (1943), The Seventh Victim (1943), The Curse of the Cat People (1944), The Body Snatcher (1945, starring Boris Karloff, pictured), Isle of the Dead (1945) and Bedlam (1946).
Strangely, the marathon skips over 1943's The Ghost Ship. But it does include two of Lewton's non-horror productions: period picture Mademoiselle Fifi (1944) and Youth Runs Wild (1944), one of the earliest entries in the low-budget juvenile delinquency genre.
For more information, including TV listings, check out TCM's Val Lewton sub-site here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Maila "Vampira" Nurmi 1921-2008

One of the true cult icons of horror has left us. It was first reported late Thursday night on Metroblogging Los Angeles--and later confirmed--that Finnish-born Maila Nurma, better known to her fans as Vampira, has passed away at the age of 86.
The original goth femme fatale, in 1954 Nurmi became the first of many television horror hosts, starting a staple of late-night TV that would live on for nearly 30 years. She had been discovered by the program director of a local L.A. TV station after attending a Halloween party dressed as Morticia Addams from the original Charles Addams New Yorker comic strip.
"The Vampira Show" aired for only one season, but that was enough to make Nurmi an L.A. legend. She even developed a friendship with fellow '50s icon James Dean, which some have speculated may have been more than a friendship.
Unfortunately, Vampira's broadcasts were never recorded for posterity, and this tiny snippet is all that has ever been found:

Nurmi refused to give up the rights to her character and wound up blacklisted in the entertainment business. Needing cash, she accepted a role in Ed Wood's epic disaster Plan 9 from Outer Space, which features the only other footage of her in character, some which can be seen here:

In the early 1980s, another California TV station tried to buy the rights to Vampira for their own horror movie program. When Nurmi refused, they hired actress Cassandra Peterson and created the far less sexy, yet unfortunately much more famous knock-off Elvira. Nurmi later unsuccessfully sued Peterson.
Despite her brief time in the spotlight, Vampira's legacy has been a powerful one. Idolized even by many far too young to remember her, she's one of those figures whose image seems to have somehow permeated the collective unconscious--known even to those who have never heard of her.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Official Diary of the Dead Trailer Is Here

So is it time yet to rename this site The Vault of Zombie Trailers? I love me some living dead, and how could you not geek out over a new George Romero picture? Anyway, I'm sure you're all gonna love this. It debuted this morning on MySpaceTV. The flick is set to premiere in the U.S. in five weeks, and I can't wait. This is hands-down my most highly anticipated project of the year. Check it out:

It seems to me that the master is getting back to speed. Quite frankly, he showed some ring rust with Land of the Dead. This looks to be much better. With his first three Dead movies, Romero did something that added to the genre, took it in a different direction. And while Land was a good horror flick, it simply didn't do that. This looks like more of a return to form.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Ultimate Illustrated Experience in Grueling Terror

Dark Horse Comics, long known for quality adaptations of existing properties, has just this week unleashed the first of its four-part Evil Dead series. And lucky for you, I just picked it up today.
All in all, the selling point here is the art. John Bolton, who I knew from his work on Batman: Man-Bat, is one of those comic book painters who are all the rage these days (thanks, Alex Ross!). And his work is beautiful--each page resembles a portrait. Very pretty to look at, although I find that hand-drawn comics usually do a better job of portraying action.
The series is written by Mark Verheiden, who just so happens to be the screenwriter of Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell's upcoming movie My Name Is Bruce. He was also the writer on DC's acclaimed Phantom series from a few years back.
As written by Verheiden, the story is pitched as an "expansion" of Sam Raimi's original horror masterwork. And it does give some interesting never-before-seen (and Raimi-approved) details, including what led up to our young protagonists' fateful jaunt into the woods.
It does take some bizarre continuity turns, however. For instance, Cheryl is no longer Ash's sister, but one of his girlfriend's pals. In flashback, the professor and his wife are portrayed much younger than they are seen in Evil Dead II, and the wife's name is inexplicably changed from Henrietta to Beth-Marie. Odd for Verheiden to toss out Part 2, when he clearly makes more than one allusion to Army of Darkness.
I will say that movie-adaptation comics certainly have come a long way from when I was a kid--an era when "Based on the Hit Movie!" translated into "Keep Away!" for most comics fans (my personal lowpoint may have been Marvel's "Labyrinth" adaptation.) That said, Verheiden's pacing does seem a bit rushed, and I wonder if this series might have been better served as a five- or six-parter.
It's an entertaining read for fans of both horror and comics. However, if you're not a regular comic book reader, there's really no burning reason to go running out to the store. You'd be better served picking up Steve Niles' 30 Days of Night, or the excellent first volume of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Wolf Man Remake Is a Go!

Universal monster fans can breathe--or howl--a sigh of relief. After weeks of uncertainty surrounding this project thanks to the ongoing WGA strike, Bloody-Disgusting broke the news this morning that the Mark Romanek-helmed remake of the 1941 classic The Wolf Man is back on track. Filming will begin on February 8 in London, and B-D also reports that additional casting is also underway.
To date, Benicio Del Toro has been cast in the starring royal of Larry Talbot, with Sir Anthony Hopkins playing Talbot's father (a role originated by Claude Rains) and Emily Blunt as the female lead. Make-up effects will be handled by the master himself, Rick Baker, who follows in the footsteps of the legendary Jack Pierce (seen here applying the original iconic get-up to Lon Chaney Jr.)
Depite the glut of horror remakes being put out right now, this is one project that I--and I think most other fans--continue to be very intrigued with. The big question is, how were they able to get this project off the ground again when it had previously been reported that the script was unfinished? Hmmm...is it possible that Baker might not be the only person on this project applying scabs?
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Folks, The Vault of Horror continues to grow in leaps and bounds. I'm proud to report that yesterday, thanks to the fine people at BlogBurst, this little blog was picked up for the first time by Reuters, that bastion of all things newsworthy. I've officially gone legit!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Title Says It All

The Vault of Horror has been up and running for a couple months now, so I was kind of psyched to get my first movie screener in the mail for review. Unfortunately, it was this movie.
Before I get into the movie itself, let me set the stage by giving the credentials of some of the players. Our writer/director is Chris Stokes, a recording artist manager best known for discovering Brandy. He cut his teeth directing music videos, and later went on to craft House Party IV and You Got Served. I won't even get into the recent allegations of kid-touching directed against him by former child performers under his management (well, I guess I just did...)
Then we've got the "stars". This thing is headlined by B-level R&B warbler Omarion Grandberry, who is joined by former boy singer Marques Houston, who played Dumb Donald in the Fat Albert movie. Our love interests are Alexis Fields, sister of Kim "Tootie" Fields and best known for recurring roles on Moesha and Sister, Sister; as well as Brooklyn Sudano, best known for being the daughter of Donna Summer.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't know what I was getting into even before I popped the DVD into my player. Nevertheless, I considered it my solemn duty to give it a chance and deliver a proper review. Kudos to me for taking the high road.
To say that this is an awful horror movie not even worthy of a direct-to-DVD release would be a gross understatement. This flick goes beyond awful. Awful would be one thing--I love me a "so bad it's good" movie as well as the next guy. But beyond being bad, this movie was one of the most reprehensibly cynical excuses for filmmaking I've ever come across. At least with a bad horror movie, you often have filmmakers who have a genuine love for the genre, or can contribute something to it in some way. Rather, this movie comes across as exactly what it is: A shameless attempt to cash in on the recent popularity of certain subgenres of horror, without any of the artistic ability or interest to do it any justice whatsoever.
Look, I'm no communist. I'm all for making a buck. After all, the movie business is just that, a business. But you've got to give your audience a reason to give you their money. And this slapdash abortion of a film isn't it.
In its hamfisted struggle to capitalize on the horror craze, it mashes together several subgenres, switching from "torture porn" to slasher to supernatural without rhyme or reason. The script is trite, predictable and boring, playing off every slasher movie character cliche with no irony or satire whatsoever. We even get a blatant rip-off of a scene straight out of The Evil Dead near the beginning. Well, at least Stokes has seen one horror movie.
The single area in which I will begrudgingly praise the movie would be photography. Chris Tufty, cinematographer for A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, at least shows some semblance of artistic vision behind the camera, putting together some interesting shots, which, though derivative, at least manage to occasionally distract the viewer from what he is actually viewing.
To put it plainly, avoid Somebody Help Me at all costs. Don't buy it. Don't rent it. If you see a copy of it laying on the sidewalk, cross the street.

Monday, January 7, 2008

New Nightmare on Elm Street Confirmed!

I've been out of the loop for the weekend thanks to a fried internet connection (damn you, Optimum Online!), but lo and behold, I jump on the web first thing this morning to discover this bombshell.
The very reliable Bloody-Disgusting claims to have gotten some info from an insider at New Line Cinema who indicates that the studio is "actively developing another Nightmare on Elm Street movie." The new installment will not be a sequel to the very-fun Freddy vs. Jason, nor will it be the long-rumored prequel. Just what will it be, exactly? A remake of the original? A continuation of the original series' continuity? Will Robert Englund even be involved? None of this is known yet. Apparently New Line is batting around a whole bunch of different concepts. Stay tuned, Freddyphiles.
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Also, just wanted to take a quick moment to thank Steve at the excellent Horrors of It All pre-code comics website for his kind words over the weekend. And thanks for the link--I only wish it was in regards to happier news than a lame Fly retread!

Friday, January 4, 2008

More Spanish-Speaking Zombies!

OK, I know that zombies don't talk, but bear with me. I've been covering the Spanish undead flick [REC] (which is now officially being remade for American audiences by the makers of The Poughkeepsie Tapes, by the way) when along comes news of yet another living dead film, this one from Chile.
Jorge Olguin's Descendents (a.k.a. Solos) is being touted as the first zombie movie to come from South America. Apparently, it tells the story of a band of children trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world that's been ravaged by ghouls and marauding military troops. I'm a sucker for zombies, so I'm already there, but this does look pretty impressive--and the involvement of children, usually a horror movie taboo, makes it quite intriguing.
Twitch debuted the trailer yesterday, and you can check it out here:

Official website: http://www.soloscine.cl/

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Del Toro to Bring Frankenstein Monster Back to Life

In an exclusive interview given to MTV News yesterday, Guillermo Del Toro stated that he is working on his own Frankenstein adaptation. The director of Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth is a known lover of the classic Universal monsters, but it sounds like his take might be a unique one. Oh yeah, and he also chats about two little projects called The Hobbit and Harry-something-or-other...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2008: The Year in Horror, Part 2

Let's continue our look ahead at what the horror genre has in store for us in the new year, shall we? First, a few projects for the latter half of 2008 which already have release dates:

10/24: Saw V - Yep, you knew this was coming.

10/24: Igor - Hey, if ya don't think the kiddies can handle Saw, take them to this interesting animated flick.

12/25: Silent Night, Deadly Night - Was anyone clambering for this remake?

Plus we've also got:


Creature from the Black Lagoon - After two decades of development hell, the Gill Man finally re-emerges.
Creepshow - I'm assuming this will be an anthology featuring all-new stories.
The Fly - Yes, a remake of a remake. A new low.
Near Dark - Can you believe the original is actually a lost film? Apparently it only exists on video.
Spider Baby - Sixties cult classic gets an "update".
The Stepfather
Suspiria - And the winner for Sacrilege of the Year...

Ghostbusters 3 - Two years after Viggo, the boys in gray duke it out with more pesky poltergeists.

Saw - Hey kids, see who could torture more victims! I'm surprised it took this long...

Howl - Interesting werewolf comedy starring Eric Stoltz.
Repo! The Genetic Opera - This "horror musical" easily wins Bizarro Project of the Year.

And there you have it, people. If you know of anything major that I missed, feel free to mention it!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008: The Year in Horror, Part 1

A Happy New Year to one and all. As promised, in honor of the start of 2008, I'm taking a look ahead at some of the projects that we as horror fans can expect in the next 12 months. I'll do half today, and the next half tomorrow.
First off, here are some that have already been given an official release date:

Plus we've also got:

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever - No Eli Roth this time.

Constantine 2 - New director for this one, too.

The Eye 3 - Continuation of the original Japanese series.
Ju-On: The Grudge 3 - More J-horror sequel goodness.

House of Re-Animator - The creators of the original return, and William H. Macy stars.

The People Under the Stairs 2 - Hmmmm....

Phantasm V - Angus Scrimm fans rejoice!

Return to Sleepaway Camp - Hide your curling irons!

Scary Movie 5 - Good lord, make it stop...

Edgar Allen Poe's Ligeia - Based on Poe's chilling short story.

Pet Sematary - A new take on the Stephen King stalwart.

World War Z - Max Brook's zombie tale hits the big screen with Brad Pitt.


Coraline - From the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll - Marilyn Manson to direct.


George Romero Presents Deadtime Stories


Drag Me to Hell - Sam Raimi returns to the genre.

More to come tomorrow, so check back in--and HAPPY NEW YEAR, freaks!

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