"QUITE SIMPLY, THE BEST HORROR-THEMED BLOG ON THE NET." -- Joe Maddrey, Nightmares in Red White & Blue

**Find The Vault of Horror on Facebook and Twitter, or download the new mobile app!**

**Check out my other blogs, Standard of the Day, Proof of a Benevolent God and Lots of Pulp!**

Saturday, January 31, 2009

John Updike 1932-2009

The Vault of Horror mourns the passing on Tuesday of John Updike, who--along with Norman Mailer--was one of the most important American literary figures of the late 20th century.

Prior to being homogenized by Harvard, the young Updike was particularly interested in science fiction, gravitating toward hard sci-fi writers like Isaac Asimov who displayed a solid knowledge of science, much like himself. Despite moving into the literary "mainstream" post-Harvard as a columnist for the New Yorker, Updike always retained a certain affection for the genre, incorporating it into several of his works, most notably the 1975 novella The Chaste Planet.

Updike's only foray into horror was a heavily diluted one, namely the 1984 horror/fantasy/comic novel The Witches of Eastwick. The tale of three witches who conjure up a mysterious demonic seducer was such a popular one that it has enjoyed several adaptations, most notably the 1987 film starring Jack Nicholson. It was also turned into two different TV movies and a 2000 stage musical, and a new ongoing series based on the novel is set to premiere on ABC in the fall.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Alex Proyas Talks Dracula

Not be outdone by his colleague the Wolf Man, yet another classic movie monster--namely the one and only Dracula--is set to return to the big screen as well, in a high-profile project announced last year called Dracula Year Zero.

On Wednesday, ShockTillYouDrop had a word with the film's director, Alex Proyas. Known for his excellent adaptation of The Crow, as well as his underrated cult fave Dark City, and yes, unfortunately, I Robot as well, Proyas should bring a unique vision to a script that supposedly merges Bram Stoker's fictional count with the historical Vlad Tepes upon which he was based. Presumably even moreso than Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), which also did this to a certain extent.

Here's some of what Proyas had to say:

"I'm not a fan of remakes or sequels - I haven't done any and I'm not really that excited by them usually.

"In the case of Dracula, the reason I got excited is I read a particular script that puts the whole legend on its head in every conceivable way and comes out with something that is both a kind of ode to Bram Stoker's original Dracula, in that it's kind of a prequel to that, but also redefines the character to such an extent that I found it quite exciting, so that is very much a reinvention of that character and it's why I got excited about it."

The script in question is by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, two untested commodities who also penned the screenplay for next year's remake of Flash Gordon--to be directed by Breck Eisner, the man also at the helm for the remakes of The Crazies and Creature from the Black Lagoon. How's that for random connections?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Austin, TX Commuters Warned of Zombies

I don't know what's funnier, the actual prank, or that it was this news program's "Top Story"...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Final Coraline Trailer Is the Best Yet

The last promotional clip for Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick's Coraline hit the net last night. According to Ain't It Cool News, it's Selick's personal favorite trailer, and it's pretty easy to see why. Here it is, enjoy:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jane Austen vs. The Undead

As an English major, I can appreciate the sentiment that Jane Austen's novels would have been better with zombies. Heck, what wouldn't? Well, Los Angeles author Seth Grahame-Smith obviously agreed, and saw fit to correct the issue. His new book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, is set for release on April 15.

Actually, Grahame-Smith is not the only author. Rather, he collaborated with Ms. Austen, despite the fact that--much like many of the characters in the book--she's dead. I'll let the official press release do the explaining:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features the original text of Jane Austen's beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead.

With any luck, this will spur a trend of classics of English literature being interpolated with zombie horror. Bleak House of the Dead is soon to follow, I'm sure.

Monday, January 26, 2009

First Look at Some Monsters vs. Aliens Character Posters

I have some retro-cool character designs from Dreamworks' Monsters vs. Aliens for y'all today, courtesy of CanMag:

This looks like it could be a lot of fun. I especially like the tip of the hat to Harryhausen/It Came from Beneath the Sea. Look for the flick on March 27.

* * * * * * * * * *

Yeah, so, by now I'm sure you all have come to the realization that The Vault of Horror secured the bronze medal in TotalFilm.com's Best Horror Blog poll (that's my positive way of spinning it!) But it's cool, it truly is an honor that they selected me, and I mean that. It just goes to show how far the VoH has come in just 15 months. Congratulations to the winner, Fatally Yours. And also, congrats to my LoTTD colleague Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Movies for coming in second place in the cult category!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

R.I.P. Monsters HD

I had heard the rumors, but was refusing to process them in my brain. Monsters HD, the greatest thing to happen to horror fans since the invention of television, was not long for this world.

And sure enough, I went over to my parents' place earlier this week, switched over to their HD lineup, only to discover that, indeed, Monsters HD was no more.

Apparently, in light of the imminent full-switch to HD, all of Optimum/Cablevision's HD-original channels, provided by Optimum's Voom subsidiary, have been buried for good. The channel, which broadcast all kinds of uncut horror and sci-fi flicks since 2003, went away forever as of last Monday night.

A sad development if ever there was one. I had really grown to love that channel, as had my monster-crazy son. I'm still puzzled as to why they would pull these HD channels in the first place, since it was in no way interfering with the introduction of the new HD lineup of regular channels, but what do I know?

Monsters HD and its brethren channels had already been dropped by Dish Network, its other major carrier, nearly a year ago.

Although some complained about what they saw as annoying repetition in Monsters HD's lineup, there was enough variety among the selections to keep me in perpetual horror bliss. I was impressed by the breadth of content available on their channel, and really, how can anyone complain about a 24-hour commercial-free TV channel that featured everything from classic Universal, to Hammer, to '50s giant bugs, to direct-to-video '90s schlock and everything in between? They showed all the frickin' Blind Dead movies, for crying out loud!

Oh, well. For the time being, I suppose I'll have to settle for Chiller, which is a piss-poor substitute for sure. I'm hoping Optimum might pick up FEARnet, but even that doesn't hold a candle to the glory that was MonstersHD.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Happening a Razzie Favorite

The 29th annual Razzie Award nominations are in, honoring the worst of the worst of 2008, and M. Night Shyamalan's soul-questioningly bad The Happening has deservedly been given more attention than any other film of the year.

The baffling end-of-the-world flick was nominated for Worst Picture, and M. Night was nominated for both Worst Director and Worst Screenplay. Also, Mark Wahlberg's stultifying performance earned him a Worst Actor nomination. Personally, I thought he did a much better job talking to animals on Saturday Night Live.

In other horror-related Razzie news, Jessica Alba was nominated Worst Actress for her work in The Eye, and Paris Hitlon Worst Supporting Actresss for Repo! The Genetic Opera.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Charles H. Schneer 1920-2009

The longest running collaborator of sci-fi/fantasy/horror legend Ray Harryhausen has passed away at the age of 88. Charles Schneer acted as producer on every one of Harryhausen's pictures from 1955's It Came from Beneath the Sea, all the way up to 1981's Clash of the Titans--both he and Harryhausen's last film.

In addition to the giant monster classic It Came from Beneath the Sea, Schneer produced Harryhausen's other horror gems Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (1956) and 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957). He considered the beloved mythological epic Jason and the Argonauts (1963) to be he and Harryhausen's finest hour, and many a fan (including this one) would agree.

Schneer started out producing under the watchful eye of horror schlock luminary Sam Katzman, but later struck out on his own, eventually taking on Harryhausen himself as a production partner. He was literally the man we can thank for allowing Harryhausen's amazing visions to become reality. He was even the guy who convinced the special effects master to switch to color with The 7th Voyage of Sinbad in 1957.

Trivia note: Schneer also produced Hellcats of the Navy (1957), the only movie in which Ronald Reagan ever appeared with his future wife, Nancy Davis.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Will You Like What You See in Mirrors?

Today's post comes from guest writer Charles Poladian, a reviewer for TheMusic.FM and an avid horror fan. He brings us a write-up on Mirrors, the latest Korean remake from Alexandre Aja, just out on DVD and Blu-Ray...

Mirrors, adapted from the Korean film Into the Mirror, and directed by Alexandre Aja, stars Kiefer Sutherland as Ben Carson, a former detective who quit after a traumatic shooting death on the job. Losing his family, income and livelihood, Ben is out on the couch staying with his sister, Angela Carson (played by Amy Smart.)

When Ben decides to start the rebuilding process, he gets a job as the night watchman for the abandoned Mayflower Department store. The place burned down tragically and is left to ruin due to insurance battles. Of course, for Ben, things become strange. There are glimpses of burnt victims and flailing limbs. Ben’s last straw comes when he sees himself on fire, feels it, but suffers no damage.

Through detective work, Ben soon gets to the bottom of all the strangeness. As Ben gets closer to these occurrences, his family and his life are soon in jeopardy. The movie races towards this conclusion, as it is only a matter of time until everyone he loves dies.

What Mirrors, and Aja, do best is create a claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s a clever spin, to use something as ever-present as mirrors to do the evil bidding. The effects and killing scenes are also worth mentioning. The opening scene ends with the mirror personality slicing through the throat of the victim, exposing the windpipe in the process, with a shard of glass from the broken mirror. It’s unflinching and what Aja is known for, from the scenes in High Tension to The Hills Have Eyes. The camera does not shy away and the viewer is meant to watch; as helpless as the victim. The department store, as a setting, is a fun horror house and leads to many creepy moments.

Unfortunately this fun premise and Aja’s skills as a director get lost in a mediocre second half. It becomes formulaic, essentially watching the main character trying to solve and resolve before it’s too late. The movie is pretty tightly paced, but has weaker transitions due to this tempo. And to top it off, there is a twist ending.

The movie could have been stuck in neutral yet still be an enjoyable watch without this ending. It’s superfluous and leaves a bad taste in your mouth, which is the main reason Mirrors falls flat. It becomes absorbed in the trappings of modern horror movies. It must be a cultural divide as well, because these remakes tend to not live up to the hype. The Grudge was mediocre as a ghost story, although The Ring still stands as the best of the bunch.

Alexandre Aja knows how to work a story and knows how to work a remake. Unfortunately, Mirrors does not succeed like his previous two outings. It could be a fun time if you catch it with the right people, but for the aficionados it may be lacking. It’s a minor step back, but Aja still has a flair for horror. His next movie is Pirahnas 3-D, which could be an awesome time at the movies.

Last line for this is rent it if you want, don’t buy. There are no features aside from trailers and the choice between theatrical and unrated.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Night of the Living Teds

What could possibly be frightening about cute, cuddly, adorable little teddy bears? Well, artist Christopher Zenga has reached deep within his splendidly wicked imagination to answer that very question. The result: ZomBears.


A series of charcoal and oil-paint illustrations of teddy bears taking the guise of classic movie monsters and other horrific forms from Zenga's dark subconscious, the first grouping of ZomBear pieces is now complete.


"When I started my icon Series I had always planned on doing the classic Universal Monsters," writes Zenga in his own blog, The Day After. "I love new horror very much... but lets be honest, without films like The Wolf Man or Frankenstein, we would not have Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger today."

The Bride of FrankenTedd

Now that the first series of ZomBear illustrations is finished, Zenga is offering print reproductions for sale. I urge readers to check these out, not merely because they're unique and interesting, but also because Zenga plans to donate a portion of his sales to the B.R.A.F.F. organization, a charity dedicated to the adoption and welfare of children in the Baikal region of Russia and Mongolia (more on them in the coming weeks).

Our ZomBear of Fatima

Ah, sweet blasphemy. Your work warms my heart, Chris!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Edgar Allen Poe: The Bicentennial

Much like the fabled "Poe Toaster", The Vault of Horror raises a glass of fine cognac to the memory of Edgar Allen Poe, father of the short story, founder of the mystery genre, and the greatest writer of horror literature in history.

Poe was born 200 years ago this day in Boston Massachusetts. In honor of this momentous occasion for literature and horror--two areas of great interest to me--I'd like to provide a bunch of very solid resources for looking further into the life and work of Edgar Allen Poe. There's no better way I can think of to while away this evening than wandering through Mr. Poe's gothic imagination...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Savini to Put the "Extreme" in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

I'd never thought I'd be saying this, but you might want to tune into Extreme Makeover: Home Edition tonight on ABC. Apparently, the Douglas Education Center in Monesson, Pennsylvania, which includes Tom Savini's makeup effects school, will be participating in helping make "an autistic lad's dream come true."

I think this somehow involves building a new house for the kid, but I'm not sure where Savini comes in. Hopefully, it has something to do with tearing out Ty Pennington's small intestines like the bikers in Dawn of the Dead.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wanna See Where the Wild Things Are?

Right alongside Coraline, this is the family flick I'm most interested in checking out, particularly because it's supposed to be very different from most films in that category (and believe me, I see 'em all...) Admittedly, I never read the book as a kid, but Where the Wild Things Are looks like it will be quite the visual treat.

/Film scored some choice pics from the upcoming flick yesterday, including artwork from the limited edition series of Where the Wild Things Are skateboards (!) that will be coming out:

If my Reading Rainbow memories serve me well, this seems to be spot on. But you don't have to take my word for it!

* * * * * * * * * *


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ray Dennis Steckler 1938-2009

In the world of horror schlock cinema, Ray Dennis Steckler made Lloyd Kaufman look like Robert Zemeckis, and Roger Corman look like Steven Spielberg. Yet there was a cult audience even for his bottom-of-the-barrell grindhouse output--chiefly due to his most "popular" film, 1964's The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies.

But writer/director/producer Steckler put out a steady stream of z-grade drive-in stinkers throughout the 1960s, ranging from the rock n' roll exploitation movie Wild Guitar to the kiddie flick The Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters.
Aside from Mixed-Up Zombies, his horror non-classics also included The Thrill Killers and Blood Shack. He even produced the film Ski Fever, directed by hard-up former Universal scripter Curt Siodmak. As for Mixed-Up Zombies itself, the Caligari-inspired tale of a man turned into the undead by a gypsy fortune teller for dating her stripper sister would eventually become an MST3K favorite.

Under one of many pseudonyms he would use over the years (Sven Christian, Wolfgang Schmidt, Cindy Lou Sutters, Harry Nixon, Christopher Edwards, Cash Flagg, etc.) he descended into the world of softcore porn in 1968 with Sinthia, The Devil's Doll. It wasn't long before softcore became hardcore, and at first Steckler tried blending skin with horror, resulting in gems like The Horny Vampire and Sexorcist Devil.

Steckler had transitioned fully into adult films by the mid 1970s, producing and directing a string of them during smut's glorious pre-VHS heyday of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Many of these films starred his future ex-wife Carolyn Brandt.

When VHS took over in the '80s, Steckler tried to transition back into "mainstream", which in his case meant more horror drek like Las Vegas Serial Killer. His last movie was 1997's Summer of Fun, after which he stepped away from the camera and started up a video distribution business in Las Vegas, which he ran until his retirement two years ago.

Ray Dennis Steckler died of a heart attack on January 7, leaving behind a body of work of decidedly bad quality. Yet, for those for whom yesterday's trash cinema is like fine wine that gets better with age, Steckler's passing is certainly an event worthy of some reflection. The Vault of Horror salutes you, Mr. Steckler, on your journey to bad movie heaven. Say hi to Ed for me!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Horror Remakes: Then vs. Now

There was once a time when news of a remake was pretty exciting for many horror fans. At least the ones I hung out with. That may be hard to believe, given the current glut of remakes flooding the market, but it's true. I can still remember a time when a horror remake stood a damn good chance of equaling, or even surpassing the original on which it was based. But that's all changed now. And it's time to ask why.


The halcyon time to which I'm referring was roughly 20 to 30 years ago--an era still revered as a latter-day golden age for the genre. It was a time of great creativity, with new ideas being put forth, and expressed in ways that were previously off-limits to filmmakers in the days of the Hays code. Remakes weren't nearly as common back then as they are now, in part because writers and directors were too busy exploring uncharted territory, and studios had the confidence to back their efforts.

But when remakes did occur, you can bet they were very often quality pieces of business. Because filmmakers and studios weren't all hung up on desperately returning to past material over and over again, when they chose to do so, it was usually for a good reason.

The Fly--one of the high watermarks of the remake subgenre--is a great example. David Cronenberg had already established himself as a unique visionary of horror, with a lot to say and an unusual way of saying it. He chose to remake The Fly partly because he wished to comment on the original, and to say something new about certain aspects of life in the 1980s, most notably the AIDS phenomenon.

In contrast, today remakes are greenlit without rhyme or reason. Churned out left and right without any real reason for being beyond the bottom line, they represent the ultimate in cynical thinking on the part of studios and distributors completely unwilling to take a chance and looking for nothing more than a quick, easy buck each and every time out.


Some may say I'm idealizing, but there was a time when those who made these films came at them with a great deal more respect for and interest in the source material than you find today. John Carpenter has gone on record as a huge fan of Howard Hawks' The Thing from Another World. And consequently, his remake (arguably the best of them all) is made with an affection for that film. Not that you need to be familiar with the original to enjoy the movie, but it adds another dimension of enjoyment if you are.

The Thing, and others of its kind, were made by people who revered the originals, and who expected at least part of their audience to have the same familiarity/fondness for them that they had. There was a certain amount of intertextuality to them. These were films that were definitely commenting on the films that had come before them.

Conversely, today's remakes are very often greenlit before any creative folks are involved, and then foisted upon filmmakers who are not nearly as connected to the source material. They are also, by and large, made with the assumption that their audience has never seen/heard of the originals on which they're based. For all intents and purposes, they are meant to overwrite the originals.

Mention House of Wax to anyone under the age of 30, and I can guarantee you they're 100 times more likely to bring up Paris Hilton than Vincent Price. Yet, as a kid, despite being 30 years removed from the 1950s original, I was still keenly aware of it, and it was a favorite of mine. Today's remakes do not invite further exploration into the genre; rather, they impede it.


A big part of the excitement that surrounded the remakes of yore had to do with what had become possible in the intervening years since the originals came out. Vast improvements in special effects meant that the Blob would no longer look like a jello mold, but rather a truly living, elastic, acidic entity. We could still love the originals, but our interest was piqued to see what the new breed of special effects wizards could do with the classic monsters of yesteryear.

There was also the very real fact that unrestricted filmmakers could now tell more intense, more violent, and less "safe" stories. This was another aspect that made for a golden age of horror in the 1970s and 1980s--the notion that the gloves were off, and we were seeing things we had never seen before. And this even carried over into remakes.

To go back to The Thing, Carpenter's version contains a much greater sense of urgency than Hawks', and Carpenter's characters convey a much more real and intense sense of abject terror and paranoia. Remakes like The Thing were also free to end on much bleaker notes than their originals, which still hearkened back to the era when most monster flicks were forced to wrap things up nice and neat in the end.

That era of pioneering has long since passed. For the most part, many of today's fans would agree that the practical special effects of those days are, in fact, superior in some ways to what we get today. Is there anyone hankering to see what the great movie monsters of the past would like as CGI? And as for tone, the recent horror movie upsurge may have returned gore to the level of prominence it once held in the genre, but these are still films of a decidedly "safer" nature. The new Texas Chainsaw Massacre, for example, may display more blood and guts than Tobe Hooper's version, but it lacks any kind of socio-political subtext, and becomes nothing more than a mindless date movie.


My regular readers know I'm far from close-minded in my viewing habits. When I see quality, I recognize it. And I admit, therefore, that not all remakes of today are bad. A few, in fact, are quite good--and it's worth looking into why that is in order to even further understand why it is that most don't work.

I hold up Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead as a recent example of a terrific horror remake. And I say this as a die-hard Romero stalwart who railed against the very idea of a remake for months prior to the film's release. But once I saw it, I had to shut my big fat mouth.

Yes, Snyder's film removes the social commentary utterly, which I just pinpointed as one of the weaknesses of modern remakes. But in this case, it worked for me, because Snyder was making a conscious decision to take the source material and move in a different direction, for a reason. He didn't want to slavishly ape the original for new fans; rather, like the great remakers of old, he wished to add something to what had come before.

The new DOTD is more action-horror than its predecessor, with set-pieces that Romero wouldn't have the budget--or the inclination--to pull off. As controversial as they were, Snyder's fast-moving zombies completely restructured the film's entire dynamic, creating a very different kind of terror based more on frantic desperation than creeping dread. It even took pains to acknowledge its source, with nods to Romero's film that were included with respect for the original, and its fans.

Yes, I still prefer the original. But Snyder's movie does what so many current remakes fail to--justify its existence.

* * * * * * * * * *

From a business standpoint, it isn't hard to understand why we're seeing all these remakes. With built-in "brand recognition" and a pre-existent script, the horror properties of the past are a safe bet. People will come to theaters based on name alone, or at least the name becomes a kind of "marketing starting point". You don't have to build something from scratch--and hey, if it worked before, it should work again, right?

Idealists need to understand that questions like, "What is this adding to the original?" "Why do it? The original is untouchable," are irrelevant. At least to the decision-makers involved. These are not people who are interested in improving on the originals, adding to them, or even commenting on them. They are only interested in the money to be made, and nothing more. And that's the whole problem.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Vote The Vault of Horror as Best Horror Blog!

As I mentioned a few days ago, TotalFilm.com, the website for the UK movie magazine Total Film, has nominated the VoH in the horror category of their 2009 Movie Blog Awards. The ballot is now officially live on TotalFilm.com, so if you believe that the Vault represents the very best in horror blogging, then head on over there and cast your vote!

I'd also like to mention that my fellow League of Tana Tea Drinkers member Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Movies has also been nominated, in the category of Best Cult Movie Blog. The venerable Vicar of VHS over at MMMMMovies has informed me that he will be taking the high road and not shamelessly stumping for votes. Obviously, I have chosen no such humble approach.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Top 10 Scariest Paintings of All Time

I'm doing something a bit different tonight. Since The Vault of Horror is devoted truly to all things horror, and not just movies and TV, I thought I'd take a look at the world of fine art, and how horror has been best represented there. With that in mind, I give you the most frightening works of art ever created! Continue on, if you dare, and enjoy the dark products of man's twisted imagination!

10. Guernica. Pablo Picasso, 1937

9. The Great Red Dragon. William Blake, 1811

8. Biomechanoid. H.R. Giger, 1974

7. Death and Life. Gustav Klimt, 1911

6. The Nightmare. John Henry Fuseli, 1791

5. The Scream. Edvard Munch, 1893

4. Garden of Earthly Delights (The Hell panel). Hieronymus Bosch, 1500

3. Death and the Maiden. Egon Schiele, 1915

2. Saturn Devouring His Sons. Francisco de Goya, 1824

1. The Triumph of Death. Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1562

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2009: The Year in Horror, Part 2

OK, I finally had the opportunity to sit down and put together the second and final part of the VoH's hotly anticipated 2009 horror preview. This time out, I'm taking a look mainly at those upcoming projects that do not yet have a hard and fast release date attached to them. Let's take a look:

...Of the Dead: For the sixth installment of George Romero's 40-year cinematic obsession with zombies, the lauded director decided give up even trying to come up with a clever name. I guess "Brunch of the Dead" just didn't cut it. Although his last two chapters have been met with mixed reactions from fans, I won't be missing this. Most likely direct-to-DVD.

Resident Evil 5: This is the video game series, not the movie series. Fans have been waiting on this one all through 2007, but it looks like it will finally reach U.S. shores this year. Right now, it's slated for 3/13.

Bloodrayne 3: Against all semblance of rational thinking, the infamous Uwe Boll plans to excrete this one upon the masses via a DVD release.

The dreaded Val Lewton remakes: A while back, RKO horrified legions of fans by announcing it had licensed the rights to remake its classic collection of Val Lewton-produced films from the 1940s. I'm talking Bedlam, The Body Snatcher, Isle of the Dead and I Walked with a Zombie. Possibly others.

Children of the Corn: A TV remake this time. Sounds like a Sci-Fi Original if ever there was one.

Dead of Night: Brandon "Superman" Routh plays monster hunter Dylan Dog, from the same Italian comic book series that inspired 1994's Cemetery Man.

Frankenweenie: A full 25 years later, Tim Burton returns to his first live action film, remaking it as a feature-length film. Expect this irresistible tale of a little boy who reanimates his dearly departed dog next December.

Giallo: Dario Argento returns to English-language film-making with this serial killer flick starring his daughter Asia and Oscar-winner Adrien Brody.

The Host 2: Even as talk of an American remake to the Korean original continues (I thought that was Cloverfield), a sequel to the giant monster favorite is in the works.

Hatchet 2: Color me completely apathetic, but for those who appreciated Adam Green's 2006 tribute to bad slasher flicks, it appears there's more to come.

I Spit on Your Grave: This time the remake mongers have gone too far. Mighty Jove, hurl thy thunderbolts upon the offenders!

Last House on the Left: In an effort to keep an open mind, I'm willing to entertain the notion that this might be good. The early trailer has generated some positive buzz, and I've loved Garret Dillahunt since his brilliant work on Deadwood.

Saw: The Game: Another long-awaited video game, this one hits on Halloween, just in time for the sixth installment in the movie series.

Scanners: For the first time, the remake train reaches Cronenberg's body of work (unless you count the Dead Zone TV series).

Stigmata 2: Winner of the "Sequel Absolutely No One Was Asking For" award.

The Tingler: I can only hope that this remake of the William Castle chiller also brings back the electric buzzers in the theater seats.

Wrong Turn 3: The 21st century take on the whole "backwoods cannibal psychos" subgenre continues, once again on DVD.

[REC] 2: In brazen defiance of the instant American remake that was churned out last year, Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza return for the sequel to their amazing Spanish-language original. Already wrapped, expect this one sooner rather than later.

Well, that's it for my little peek into the next 12 months. Definitely too many sequels and remakes than I care to see, but what else is new? On the bright side, we have projects from Romero, Argento, Balaguero & Plaza and Burton to look forward to.

Check here for Part 1 of my 2009 preview.

Neato Poltergeist FX Podcast

Hey Poltergiest fans! Bummed about the inevitable remake trudging our way? Well, can't do much about that, but I can direct your attention to this terrific podcast over at the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) website.

Cinematographer Matthew Leonetti and visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund discuss the techniques used in Tobe Hooper's 1982 fan favorite. You can download it either as an iTunes podcast, or an mp3 audio file.

Oh, and sorry for publishing that mondo groady shot from the movie. That moment was responsible for more childhood nightmares than I care to count. I just had to share it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Another Ill-Advised Remake Bites the Dust!

Following the recent news of the Rosemary's Baby and The Birds remakes getting flushed down the developmental toilet, I can't say I'm not pleased to report that Sony's planned remake of Tom Holland's '80s vampire sleeper Fright Night has also been deep-sixed.

According to Ryan Rotten over at Shock Till You Drop, the inability to cobble together a script that pleased the execs is the reason being cited for shelving the project. It had been in development for nearly two years.

Seems to be a growing trend. And for all those who tend to be more "open-minded" about these remakes, I'll say this: No, they're not all bad. Dawn of the Dead was very good, for example. But for every one that's decent, we get five others that tarnish the name of the originals on which they're based, obscure those originals in the minds of new potential fans, and represent cowardly, unimaginative bottom-line thinking at its worst.

Here's to original ideas!

* * * * * * * * * *

I'm proud as a peacock to announce that The Vault of Horror has been nominated for best horror blog of 2008 by TotalFilm.com, the website for the UK's Total Film magazine. It's part of their overall 2008 Movie Blog Awards, which should be up on the site sometime next week. Keep an eye out!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Finally, the Horror Film Doc We've Been Hoping For

If there's one thing that immediately strikes you while watching Joseph Maddrey and Andrew Monument's Nightmares in Red, White and Blue, it's that Lance Henriksen has got a future in voiceovers. The haggard actor's grim, resonant baritone instantly captivates as he takes the viewer on a journey through the history of the American horror film, from Edison's Frankenstein right to the present day.

And what a journey it is. Based on Maddrey's 2004 book, this as-yet-undistributed doc, produced/written by Maddrey and directed/edited by Monument, is a potent, jam-packed study of the fright flick in the context of the United States' evolution over the course of the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Obviously, a movie can't cover all the material that a book can, but Maddrey does a fine job of condensing the most important stuff into a little over 90 minutes, which is no mean feat. Ideally, a project like this could have been expanded into a three-part miniseries, as it feels rushed at times. But in fairness to Maddrey and Monument, an impressive job is done of covering as much ground as possible within the time limitations.

More than a century of cinema is discussed, and there were bound to be some omissions. I was surprised to see The Shining get almost completely glossed over, and was expecting a bit more on Vincent Price, the genre's most iconic star. Due to the American focus of the film, you won't find much on stuff like Hammer or the Italians, although there is a discussion towards the end of the rise of foreign horror as a powerful alternative for U.S. fans.

What is covered is handled quite well. We get a series of titled chapters, a la Kevin Burns, covering everything from the golden age of the Universal monsters to the post-9/11 torture porn boom. Engrossing commentary is provided by the likes of George Romero, Roger Corman, John Carpenter, Darren Lynn Bousman, Larry Cohen, Brian Yuzna, Tony Timpone and the ever-engrossing John Kenneth Muir, who gets so much screentime, I was expecting his name to be above the title (I kid John, I kid!).

As in his book, Maddrey's script attempts to match up the development of the American horror movie with the history of the country itself. At times, this works quite well, such as when Carpenter rails against the evils of Reagan's 1980s, and how that was reflected in the films that he and others were making at the time. At other times, however, it feels like Maddrey is trying a bit too hard to establish an ongoing narrative from what are often unrelated and random events, such as when we are told that horror in the 1940s was headed in a softer, less serious direction, and then the next stuff we see is the incredibly intense films of Val Lewton, which contradict this thesis.

Due in part to the interview subjects chosen, the movie is weighted a bit toward the movies of the 1970s and 1980s, which for many fans represents something of a modern-day golden age anyway, so I was happy to see the narrative slow down a bit during this period to provide a more detailed discussion. We get a hilarious slasher movie montage that spells out the moral ground rules upon which that subgenre operated. There's also a direct comparison of President Reagan to Freddy Krueger, which is sure to send conservative horror fans into fits.

I've often wondered why no one had stepped up to do a really comprehensive, all-encompassing history of horror in documentary form, and so I'm grateful to Maddrey and Monument for being the first to give the genre this kind of treatment. It's a fascinating watch for both passionate and casual fans, made by people who really seem to care about their subject matter. It's a travesty that it has yet to find a distributor, as this is easily something I could imagine airing on networks like Bravo, SciFi or AMC, followed by a spiffy DVD release full of extra interview footage.

Hopefully, that problem will be changed soon, as this is a compelling piece of work, with a lot to say about our culture and how it's reflected in how we choose to entertain ourselves.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Yes, This Is a Real Book

And you can get it here. Effing brilliant.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Pat Hingle 1924-2009

We start off the year with the loss of a prolific character actor, best known for playing Commissioner Gordon in the PolyGram Pictures Batman movie series of 1989-97. In fact, he was one of only two actors to play their roles in all four movies. But Pat Hingle's resume included roles in countless other films and TV shows, including several notable horror appearances.

Most notably of all, he starred in the 1963 Twilight Zone episode, "The Incredible World of Horace Ford". He also played in Stephen King's Maximum Overdrive, and the 1997 TV remake of The Shining.

In addition to his work in horror and B-flicks, Hingle co-starred in a plethora of major motion pictures, spanning the 1950s right up to recent years, including On the Waterfront, Splendor in the Grass, Hang 'Em High, Sudden Impact, Brewster's Millions, The Grifters, The Quick and the Dead, and Talladega Nights. He had a recurring role on Gunsmoke, and was Col. Parker in John Carpenter's 1979 TV movie Elvis.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009: The Year in Horror, Part 1

It's that time of year again, when the VoH takes a look into the proverbial crystal ball to see what the brand new year has in store for us fans of the gothic and macabre. I'm breaking up my preview into two parts. Tonight, I'm focusing on those projects which already have a set release date.

The Unborn: This comes to us from writer/director David S. Goyer. He gave us the new Batman flicks, the Blade movies and the underrated cult classic Dark City. He also gave us Kickboxer 2 and that Nicky Fury TV movie with David Hasselhoff.

My Bloody Valentine 3-D: Had enough of the endless horror remakes? OK, well here's another one, except... it's in 3-D! Rock on!

Boogeyman 3: Direct to video, as it should be. Wait... there was a Boogeyman 2?

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans: This medieval prequel charts the origins of the ages-old feud between the vampires and werewolves. Translation: No Kate Beckinsale.

Coraline: Cool dads everywhere will be taking their kids to see this long-awaited stop-motion animated film from Neil Gaiman and Henry "Nightmare Before X-Mas" Selick.

Friday the 13th: The most anticipated remake of them all. 'Nuff said.

Dead Like Me: Life After Death: All those who felt crushed when the criminally under-recognized Showtime series got yanked will finally get a shot at some closure with this direct-to-video production.

Lesbian Vampire Killers: Much like Smuckers, with a name like that, it has to be good.

The Grudge 3: At long last, the direct-to-video trigger is pulled on the Grudge franchise. This time Shawnee Smith of Saw fame stars.

Monsters vs. Aliens: I'll admit that this looks like a gem of an animated comedy, and it's got Stephen Colbert as the voice of the President. But I'm given pause that it's brought to us by the directors of Shrek 2 and Shark Tale.

The Descent: Part 2: I wasn't aware of this one, but given the tremendous popularity of the original, there's sure to be a lot of interest here.

Drag Me to Hell: Sam Raimi's triumphant return to the horror genre. Think of it as a breather before he rolls up his sleeves and tries to save the Spider-Man series.

Final Destination: Death Trip 3-D: In the time-honored tradition of Jaws, Friday the 13th and The Amityville Horror, the FD series makes that ultimate horror desperation move. It was supposed to happen more appropriately with the third one, but this time they finally made it happen.

Halloween 2: Rob Zombie's sequel to his 2007 remake is on the fast track as we speak.

Jennifer's Body: Diablo Cody, she of the pretentiously affected Juno, penned this horror comedy, in which Megan Fox will not appear topless.

The Crazies: Apparently this is the one remake that has no one upset, since George Romero's original has so many detractors.

The Stepfather: Christopher Meloni of HBO's Oz fame picks up the mantle of the heavy in this remake, while his new wife will be played by Sela Ward, who happens to be married to the guy who played Bub in Day of the Dead.

Saw VI: Yep.

The Wolf Man: Here's my personal most-anticipated flick of 2009. Can't wait to hopefully witness Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins do Lon Chaney and Claude Rains proud.

New Moon: The first of the three inevitable sequels to Twilight. If you're already a fan, rejoice. If not, brace yourself.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...