Monday, September 8, 2014

Revisiting John Carpenter's Chilling Body of Work - A Guest Piece by Brandon Engel

Now, this is a piece that I am very excited to be sharing with you guys. I was approached by a writer named Brandon, who was interested in writing a piece for the blog on John Carpenter's lesser known works, and as I've been the sole writer on here I was very excited to have additional collaboration on the blog. He submitted a great piece, which you will find below, and I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I do. Cheers!
Breaking onto the Hollywood scene in the '70s with his low-budget, high-impact thrillers, John Carpenter made a name for himself in filmmaking that extends even beyond his substantial impact on the horror genre. Though Carpenter is probably best known as a master of horror, responsible for famous genre staples like Halloween (1978) and The Thing (1982), he is a prolific film maker whose influence reaches in to the realms of science fiction and action cinema.

One of John Carpenter's first real commercial successes was the genre-defining slasher film Halloween, which would go on to spawn countless movies with similar themes and build Carpenter's reputation as a horror film genius. Based on a simple pulp fiction theme of teenaged babysitters being stalked on Halloween night by a masked killer and filmed on a shoestring budget of just $320,000, this early hit with its influential sound track became one of the most successful independent movies of all time, and one of the most recognizable films in the exploitation genre. While many critics and film connoisseurs have inferred an allegorical message about sexual purity from this film, a theme which is often echoed in its many cinematic offspring, Carpenter himself insists that he was just out to make the kind of trashy, crass exploitation film he would have loved to see as a kid. Other horror hits that would cement Carpenter's place as a genius of the genre included The Fog in 1980.

In addition to his well known horror contributions, Carpenter made many strong films in the sci-fi and action genres. His first film, Dark Star in 1974, was a largely forgotten sci-fi movie that nevertheless earned him attention from his Hollywood peers. Like many of his early films, Dark Star was made on a limited budget, with Carpenter himself taking responsibility for the writing, directing, producing and musical score. Most of Carpenter's films playfully blur the lines between genres, like his sci-fi romantic comedy Starman in 1984, or the bizarre satirical sci-fi action film They Live (1988) starring Canadian professional wrestler 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper. While some of Carpenter's sci-fi films, like Starman, received critical acclaim, and many went on to become cult classics, The only one that came anywhere near the commercial success of Halloween was the action packed Escape From New York (1981), grossing about a third as much as Carpenter's slasher classic.

Although his versatility and ability to work with a shoestring budget quickly got him better 
and brighter offers, Carpenter directed several films that were flops, both commercially and critically, and can be hard to find these days except on specialty cable networks like Robert Rodriguez’s recently launched El Rey channel (which is on DirecTV and some cable providers). The Thing (1982), a bleak and riveting alien thriller where everyone dies, was released the same summer Steven Spielberg's cuddly extra terrestrial E.T. graced the screen, and did not perform well commercially. The failure got him pulled from another project, and he would soon return to making low budget films. Many of these films are considered forgotten classics by those who love B-movies: Prince of Darkness in 1987 and the Lovecraftian homage In the Mouth of Madness in 1994, together with The Thing, complete Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy of dark horror films and are considered underrated by many fans.

Even though none of his films achieved the early success of Halloween and many of them were poorly received, John Carpenter's cinematic legacy set many records and influenced countless films across decades. From his impact on the slasher genre to his cult classic contributions to action and sci-fi, Carpenter's thumbprint on cinema history cannot be ignored.

Brandon Engel writes for a variety of blogs and websites, and was gracious enough to write a post for us here at Lovecraft Reviews. Keep your eyes peeled, I may get him back here soon! 

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW Rolls Out First Full Length Trailer


FX's American Horror Story: Freak Show has rolled out a full length trailer where we can finally see the cast in their respective roles. Ryan Murphy also released a synopsis for the premiere episode, entitled "Monsters Among Us":
One of the only surviving sideshows in the country struggles to stay in business during the dawning era of television. When police make a terrifying discovery at a local farmhouse, the eccentric purveyor of the freak show sees an opportunity that will lead her troupe either to their salvation or ruin.
While I find AHS to be pretty polarizing, I was a huge fan of season two: Asylum. The last season was a little underwhelming but I get a feeling this next season might be right up my alley again. Who knows, maybe the shows runs in even numbers?

Check out the trailer below!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

More Rumors Fly Concerning The Adaptation of King's THE STAND

The adaptation of Stephen King's post apocalyptic epic The Stand has been getting a ton of coverage lately. While rumors as of late have revolved around supposed casting choices, the ending of the original draft of the script has been surfaced. The film, which was originally written by David Kajganich, is now being reworked by the director Josh Boone. Badass Digest recently released a spoiler heavy (seriously, don't read if you have any intentions of reading the novel) ending that was in the original script:
In this version, from last year, the good guy survivors from Boulder get together in an army and march on Las Vegas to kill Randall Flagg. Flagg’s headquarters is, of course, the Luxor Pyramid. The Boulderites invade the city while, off to the east, a squad fights at the Boulder Dam – which Trashcan Man explodes, killing Larry Underwood and sending a deadly flood to Vegas. In the city Flagg squares off against hero Stu Redman… who now has the power of God, and they have an Akira-like battle on the Las Vegas Strip, with Flagg trying to take Stu’s magic. Cars are thrown, Excalbur’s turrets are tossed, the people of Vegas are used by Flagg as disposable cannon-fodder. Meanwhile Nick Andros sacrifices his life taking out a howitzer. The Boulder forces, while armed, try to only take prisoners and rescue people from being under Flagg’s evil spell. It all comes down to Flagg and Stu, and whether or not Stu will absorb Flagg’s evil magic.
Well... that's interesting? While King's ending was beautiful in print it was a bit hard to pull off on screen in the miniseries that aired in the early 90's. I can understand making some changes, but completely changing the course that certain characters take is a bit much for me. According to this original ending, Nick Andros survives the bomb set by Harold and Nadine, Stu Redman develops supernatural powers and there is an all out war between the Boulder Free Zone and Flagg's new Vegas homestead. 

I really hope this is another fruitless rumor. While I agree that some things should probably be changed to make it more film friendly, but this is just a bit much for me. What say you?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Stephen King's THE STAND Gets the Big Screen Treatment


Recently I've had some time on my hands, so I've decided to go through my never ending stack of unread Stephen King novels and start powering through them. The one on top, The Stand, had been sitting there for some time as it just never sounded all that interesting to me. Oh was I wrong, I now consider that book to be one of my all time King favorites, and I was very excited to read this tidbit of news that was apparently released a few days ago.

I had heard rumors of a motion picture adaptation, but it all seemed to be a bunch of whisper. Apparently not. This shit is goin' down, and Josh Boone is leading the way. While I don't enough about Boone to say that he would be wrong for the project, his ideas for casting are making my knees weak and that alone makes me think he may be right for the project.

It was originally reported that Matthew McConaughey was being pursued to play the role of Randall Flagg. In more recent news, later the same day, Josh Boone took to Twitter to present a very tasty bit of news refuting that.
Holy shit. I don't even know what to say.

When I first read that McConaughey was being considered for Flagg, my thoughts immediately were "That's interesting, he may be a better Stu, but he would still be phenomenal Flagg". Seeing Boone's tweet made me want to cry.

McConaughey would not only be a magnificent Stu Redman, but Bale as Flagg, I never would've thought of and I love it. While the miniseries was fun, it neutered a large part of the fear that King's novel goes into gory detail to impart. It's understandable, but this is being said to be a 3 hour, rated R, epic saga closely mimicing the vibe of the novel. Yes and Yes.

Now I pray to the Gods of Hollywood and pray that this works out.

WTF - Rob Zombie Wishes (And Gets Denied) to Return to The Firefly Clan


In a bit of shocking horror non-news, Fangoria has reported a very interesting tidbit from a recent interview with Rob Zombie. 

The famous shock rocker-turned-horror director has created a very defined rift in the horror community. Some hate him, some love him, I happen to be a part of the former camp, but very few can deny the impact that his first foray into the world of directing made on the horror world. House of 1000 Corpses and more importantly The Devil's Rejects, has become one of the biggest cult hits in the horror world in recent years. The Firefly Clan, one of the very few original and truly terrifying creations in recent horror, have become fan favorites, and we all believed that we had seen the last of them in what I believe to be one of the most beautiful horror film endings of all time. 

Apparently not, atleast not due to the reasons that we believed. Zombie loves them as much as we do, and he not only wants to return to their story but he has a story idea already outlined. The only problem? Lionsgate won't let him. Check this out: 
“I’ve always thought I’d like to make another movie, because I love the characters, and I have an idea I think is solid for a third one – an idea that would make sense. The problem is, I don’t own the characters now. They’re owned by Lionsgate, and they just don’t have any desire to do anything. So it isn’t me not doing it because I don’t want to; I don’t have the ability to get it done.”
It's not only shocking to me that Zombie wants to return to the characters, but that he doesn't own them. This isn't exactly an exception, but they are one of Zombie's best creations and the fact that he doesn't own the rights to the characters took me by complete surprise. What's even more suprising to me is that Lionsgate doesn't want to do anything more with the characters! In my opinion, another chapter in the Firefly saga would sell like hotcakes, if only they put one out. 

What do you think? Am I crazy, and blinded by my love for the characters, or are you on my side? Sound off below!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

SCREAM Casting News - Changes and Additions To The New Woodsboro Line Up


For those of you who may not know, the Scream franchise is headed to the small screen for a brand new series on MTV as opposed to a much anticipated Scream 5. I haven't reported too much on it, as I've been hoping that self inflicted ostrich syndrome would make it go away, but alas, it hasn't. News has begun to trickle in at a heavier rate over the past few months, we've learned that Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven hate eachother, so there's no hope that Williamson will have anything to do with the series. We also learned that Williamson not only has a script for a Scream 5, but a Scream 6 as well, as he had written Scream 4 to be the start of a "new trilogy". This information is really just salt in the wound knowing that it will probably never happen as the Weinstein's aren't too keen on working with Williamson again either. 

Regardless, Scream: The Series is happening, and there's been casting news.

Courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

Willa Fitzgerald will star as Emma Duvall, a classic beauty whose looks and popularity hide a natural shyness and intellectual nature. Her new life with the “in crowd” leaves her estranged from her childhood best friend, Audrey. Emma is the lead in MTV’s Scream take and bears a resemblance to Neve Campbell’s tortured high school student Sidney Prescott in the 1996 feature film.
Bex Taylor-Klaus, who has been recurring on The CW’s Arrow as DC Comics character Sin and whose credits also include The Killing and House of Lies,will replace Amy Forsyth in role of Audrey, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor. She’s described as an artsy loner who aspires to be a filmmaker.
Bobby Campo (The Final Destination) will recur as Seth Branson, a hot English teacher at Lakewood High who has an easy charm and is clearly one of the “cool” teachers, who can go with it if a lesson plan gets a little off-track.
Connor Weil (Sharknado) will be a series regular and portray Will Belmont, an all-American high school basketball player who adores his girlfriend, Emma (Fitzgerald).
Joel Gretsch (Witches of East EndVThe 4400) is set as Sheriff Clark Hudson, a good guy and good sheriff who is father to Kieran (Amadeus Serafini). David Arquette famously portrayed the lovable sheriff in Williamson’s features.
Now, I love Arrow, it's currently one of my favorite shows at the moment, but I don't know how I feel about Taylor-Klaus as she plays one of the few "replaceable characters" on the show, in my opinion. We'll have to wait and see. The two factors that come into play the most for me on this one are that there has been talk of bringing a supernatural element into play in the series (if Ghost Face is an actual ghost...) and the fact that Teen Wolf, the current major hit on MTV, is one of the worst shows I've seen in years. It can barely be called horror, it's just... it's bad. 
What do you think? Yay or nay on the Scream front?

Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014) - A Review


One of the things that I look forward to the most throughout the year, are DC Comic's animated films featuring Batman. They are almost always phenomenal, and it's a very wonderful break from the Nolanverse and the incessent shouting of "WHY SO SERIOUS" from hordes of fanboys. While the live action Batfilms have their high points, and certainly their lows, nothing compares to the DC Entertainment features. They are not only incredibly comic accurate, but they're just a lot more fun in general. 

Released this week, and previewed last month at Comic Con, Batman: Assault on Arkham is the latest addition to the DC animated franchise and while it differs greatly from previous Batman films it is an extremely fun, adrenaline packed and often hilarious take on a new view of the Bats.