Monday, December 31, 2007

Alright you primitive screw-heads... Bruce is back.

"My Name is Bruce" is not going to be for everyone, in fact... it's a film by Bruce Campbell for Bruce Campbell fans. "Bruce leads a posse of dim-witted residents of Gold Lick, Oregon, in search of Guan-di, the Chinese god of War." This is, of course, after the citizens of Gold Lick mistake the real Bruce Campbell for his character, Ash, from the "Evil Dead" series. It oozes Bruce Campbell and I love the concept, but I haven't seen the movie. As for recent "Bruce Campbell films for Bruce Campbell fans", I loved the concept for "Bubba Ho-Tep" when I first read about it and I thought it delivered. As one of those Bruce Campbell fans, I have to say, I'm looking forward to "My Name is Bruce".

However, what I'm really interested in is how this movie does. It's directed by, stars and is produced by Bruce Campbell... without question, it's a Bruce Campbell vehicle. So, how much 'pull' does he actually have? I'm betting that he has more than enough to make this work, which says a lot. He knows his audience, he knows what they want, he knows what they'll pay and what he can expect to get back... and then he comes through. It's a model that all genre filmmakers should follow - know your audience, know what to exepect back, then make your film with all that in mind.

Here's the link to the "My Name is Bruce" page on Bruce Campbell's official site. The trailer is below...

Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 Box Office Gross for Horror Movies

I went through the numbers and here ya go, a list of what all theatrically released horror movies grossed at the box office in 2007.

In all honesty, it doesn't prove or show much, but there's a few interesting things to note. The most glaring thing that I can see is that the two highest grossing horror movies are rated PG-13. (edit: actually, "I Am Legend" didn't make it in this list for some reason, so, in fact, the top THREE horror movies are all rated PG-13) It may just be an anomaly and mean nothing, but let's just pretend that it does mean something. Let's just pretend that Hollywood now wants to pump out more PG-13 rated horror, so they can appeal to a broader audience. (Also, PG-13 is the top-rated MPAA rating of the last 10 years) If you consider that the top three highest grossing horror movies of 2006 were "Saw III" at #27, "The Omen" at #55 and "Final Destination 3" at #56, which were all R rated and that 2005 had "Saw II", "The Ring II" and "The Amityville Horror" as the top three grossing films (of which only "The Ring II" was PG-13), it's the first time in a while that the top films are PG-13. So, if you see things trending towards more 'big-budget' PG-13 horror in the theaters, that should create a demand for R rated horror on DVD because that fan base will be forced to look elsewhere... which could open up the DVD market for low budget horror filmmakers. So, a negative could really be a positive. ...or it could mean nothing, who knows?

Another thing to note is that this list is box office gross, it has nothing to do with DVD sales and if you look near the bottom, there's a lot of films that didn't do much in the theater's, but are doing well on DVD. (Think "Hatchet", "Descent" and "Leslie Vernon")
The number is where they're ranked overall and I included the rating just for kicks...

#30 - Disturbia (PG-13)

#32 - 1408 (PG-13)

#36 - Saw IV (R)

#39 - Halloween (R)

#43 - Resident Evil: Extinction (R)

#56 - 30 Days of Night (R)

#61 - Pan's Labyrinth (R)

#66 - The Messengers (PG-13)

#67 - The Number 23 (R)

#71 - Zodiac (R)

#79 - 28 Weeks Later (R)

#81 - Mr. Brooks (R)

#83 - Hannibal Rising (R)

#88 - The Reaping (R)

#89 - Grindhouse (R)

#92 - The Mist (R)

#102 - The Hills Have Eyes II (R)

#115 - Hostel: Part II (R)

#118 - Dead Silence (R)

#170 - I Know Who Killed Me (R)

#177 - P2 (R)

#187 - Black Christmas (R)

#206 - Blood and Chocolate (PG-13)

#222 - Captivity (R)

#248 - The Abandoned (R)

#261 - Skinwalkers (PG-13)

#271 - Paprika (R)

#273 - After Dark's Horrorfest 2007 (Not Rated)

#324 - Fido (R)

#395 - Rise: Blood Hunter (R)

#423 - Black Sheep

#441 - Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (R)

#500 - The Last Winter

#504 - Wind Chill (R)

#526 - The Tripper (R)

#573 - Descent (R)

#615 - Hatchet (R)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hollywood's biggest enemy can be your best friend

There's absolutely no question on where the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) stands on P2P file sharing. They made that stance very clear in this press release, which praises a proposed bill that would require colleges to come up with ways to help movie studios and record labels prevent trading in copyrighted works. In the press release, it states that "the MPAA's most recent data shows that the U.S. motion picture industry lost $6.1 billion to piracy in 2005." Further, they truly show their ignorance by stating that "illegal downloading doesn't just hurt the motion picture and music industries, but it can also be harmful to universities as it puts their systems at risk for security purposes, takes up bandwidth, and slows systems that are designed for research and other educational purposes." Well... it definitely takes up bandwidth, I can vouch for that.

I'm sorry, but how can you come up with such an exact number? Do you know exactly how many films got downloaded and, if so, how many of the people who downloaded them would actually pay to see that same movie in the theaters, given the chance? The numbers have to be far more vague than that and I'd really like to see how the MPAA came up with those numbers. There's no way that P2P file sharing really eats into the business that much and even if it does, the figures wouldn't be that quantifiable, but I can let it go. Obviously, they're pissed off and, simply for the sake of not having to write about it any more, let's say it's with good reason. Having said that, file sharing isn't a bad thing for all filmmakers. In fact, for low-budget filmmakers, it can be a really good thing. Read this post from TorrentFreak and consider the two examples they site, "The Man From Earth", a low budget sci-fi, and "Day Zero", a low budget horror. Essentially, having pirated versions of their films distributed through the torrent sites created a buzz on IMDb, Amazon and elsewhere on the net, which built awareness and created two things that every low budget filmmaker wants - an audience and DVD sales.

The studios have a different way to create that audience and sell tickets, it's called marketing and advertising. The studio's spend millions upon millions of dollars to market their theatrical releases and it's all geared at getting as many people into those seats on opening weekend as they can. Negative buzz can kill an opening weekend and the studios do everything they can to avoid it, including: not screening for critics, reshooting after test screenings with target groups and locking down sets. If the studio thinks they have a stinker on their hands, the film is dead in the water if a DVD screener or workprint was available for download a week before the film was released. When it comes to P2P file sharing, the studios really don't have much to gain, but they sure have a lot to lose.

On the flip side, most low budget filmmakers have little or no marketing budget and they usually have nothing to lose. If you throw your film onto a filesharing site and people think it stinks, so what? ...but what if people think it's good? Well, maybe those people tell their friends about it. Maybe they write a review on IMDb or Amazon. Maybe they go to your website looking for more information. Maybe they create enough buzz to generate some real sales. Maybe it will start opening doors and get you a real budget for your next film. Maybe it's exactly what you need - a free marketing tool that also creates an audience, while giving you feedback.

The studios will always resist anything that threatens the stranglehold that they have on the industry and they truly can't stand the file sharing sites. All they'll ever see it as is just a bunch of punk kids that are taking money out of their grubby hands. I've got news for them, though... one way or another, file sharing isn't going anywhere.... and it may just be the tool that allowed low-budget filmmakers to break in.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The only worthwhile DVD release on Christmas Day

I thought we'd be able to post a few things over the holidays, but that didn't really happen. So, now that we're sobering up a bit, it's time to get things back on track.

There really wasn't any DVD releases on Christmas Day, so I'll take the opportunity to discuss what was released, the HD DVD and Blu-ray versions of what was, far and away, one of the best films of the last few years - "Pan's Labyrinth". "Pan's Labyrinth" was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro and was produced and distributed by the Mexican film company, Esperanto Films with a budget of $19Million - which is extremely low, considering it had its fair share of effects. It's also a little strange that del Toro would do a lower budget film at all, as "Labyrinth" comes off the heels of "Hellboy" and "Blade II" and he probably could've done another studio film with a bigger budget and, presumably, a bigger paycheck.

Having said that, del Toro does tend to mix up the films he does, shooting a big-budget Hollywood film like "Hellboy", "Mimic" or "Blade II", then following it up with a lower-budget film like "Cronos" or "The Devil's Backbone". A lot of horror and genre fans know exactly who Del Toro is because of the afore mentioned films, but "Pan's Labyrinth" has put him on mainstream Hollywood's radar. Currently, he has three films in various stages of production, "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" - obviously, the sequel to 2004's "Hellboy", "3993" - a ghost story about 'the hostages left to fortune by the past' set in 1990's Spain and with connections with the Spanish Civil War in 1939 and "At the Mountains of Madness" - a chilling recollection of an Antarctic expedition's uncanny discoveries and their encounter with untold menance in the ruins of a lost civilization.

"Pan's Labyrinth" was shot over 11 weeks, from June to October in 2005, in and around Madrid and was first released at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival on May 27, 2006, where it received a 22 minute standing ovation. Its first release in an English speaking country was at the London FrightFest Film Festival on August 25, 2006 and it had it's general release in December of 2006. It was first released on DVD in the U.S. on May 15, 2007 through New Line Home Entertainment. Now, the high def and blu ray releases are being released and they offer picture-in-picture commentaries, exclusive web content and DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio in 7.1 surround sound, which is a first for New Line. It's critically acclaimed (for what that's worth) and has won numerous awards from various institutions, including the Academy Awards.

There's various reasons that I hold this film in such high regard. First off, for what they were setting out to do (and subsequently accomplished), it was done on a modest budget. Further, it was critically acclaimed and won numerous awards, even though, for all intents and purposes, it was a horror movie. Also, they preferred to use complex make-up and puppetry for most of the effects, as opposed to using CGI (even though they did use some CGI), which is rarely done anymore, but created some very convincing effects. All this, and much more, make this one of the most monumental films of the last few years and if you haven't seen it, you must. If you have seen it, buy the DVD and check out the Blu Ray and HD DVD versions...

"Pan's Labyrinth":

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New Horror DVD's coming out today that are worth checking out...

Christmas is seriously starting to eat into my free time, but I had to post something about the new horror DVD's that are coming out today. There's a few mentionables and I'm not talking about Rob Zombie's "Halloween" (even though I'm now mentioning it), which I would rank just below "Halloween III: Season of the Witch" in the "Halloween" series. For perspective, III didn't have anything to do with Michael Myers... and it sucked.

Regardless, Rob Zombie's vision of "Halloween" comes out on DVD today and having said that it sucked, I have to admit that I haven't seen the unrated director's cut. I heard Rob Zombie talking about how there were various versions out there and he was pissed about how it got hacked up and, blah, blah, blah... Since I love "House of 1,000 Corpses" and I thought "Devil's Rejects" was okay, I'll give the unrated director's cut a shot... but it'll be on a really short leash.

The old-school American horror that is "not a remake, not a sequel and is not based on a Japanese one" - "Hatchet" finally comes to DVD. I'm a complete and total sucker for this. It was a massive hit on the the indie horror festival circuit, it was made on a limited budget, it stars Kane Hodder as Victor Crowly, it's got Robert Englund and Tony Todd in cameo's, it's got laughs and a whole bunch of good deaths. An homage to the American Slasher film - "Hatchet", awesome. By the way, expect the sequel soon.

Now, how about a little Bruce Campbell action??? This is actually the first I've heard of "Man with the Screaming Brain", but Bruce not only stars in it, but he also wrote and directed it. It was originally made for the Sci-Fi network in Sofia, Bulgaria for something like $850,000. It looks like it originally came out in 2005, so where's this been? ...oh, and don't worry, Ted Raimi IS in it. Expect a LOT of Bruce Campbell in this - that means slapstick humor, some blood and a bit more slapstick humor.

"Boy Eats Girl" is an Irish flick that was made for around $5Million. Not a super low-budget, by international standards, but definitely low by North American standards. I think it's recently been picked up by Lionsgate and rereleased in North American, as I've found two different versions of the cover art. I always find horror from the U.K. to be hit or miss and I haven't seen "Boy Eats Girl", but it's always worth checking them out becuase it's good to know what kinds of horror other countries are watching. I was pleasantly surprised by some recent horror films out of the U.K., including "Evil Aliens", "Black Sheep" and "Creep".

There's a few other movies out, but... unfortunately, I don't have time today to write about them.

Out on DVD today, Dec 18, 2007:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Machine Girl Trailer - best trailer I've seen in a long time...

What do Asian filmmakers "get" that we, in North America, don't?!?! Check out this trailer for "Machine Girl", if you don't want to check it out after seeing this, there's something seriously wrong with you. ...or, on the flip side, maybe there's just something seriously wrong with me, I don't know.

What could the budget of this been? I'm betting $2Million, at best. Further, this movie's got buzz and I'm betting that everyone involved makes money... from the investors and whatever studio's involved, to the producers all the way down to the distributors. Is it the plot? Nope... looks pretty simple - you kill my family, now I'm going to kill all of you. Is it the acting? Judging from the trailer, I seriously doubt it. Is there a big name attached? Not as far as I know.

When I see a trailer like this, I just scratch my head and wonder, "why the hell are the studio's stuck on just remaking stuff?" The only people taking risks anymore are the truly independent filmmakers - guys like the crew that made "Murder Party", which... on a side note, if you haven't seen, you must. I mean, do you think a studio would take a risk on something like this? "Hey, we've got an idea. Cute schoolgirl's family gets killed, she loses a limb or two. Then, she makes weapons to attach to the nubs that are left behind and goes on a killing spree. What do you think?" "Well, that sounds interesting... but, our next movie is a remake of "Pumpkinhead" that we're dumping $100Million into it and it stars George Clooney.

I really think that sooner than later, this, really, is where things are going. You'll see more, quality, lower budget films that are loaded with originality. They're easier to make and easier to make money on. Take note...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Striking WGA writers to "move online"?

I was just reading this article from The Financial Times, which basically insinuates that the strike could push all the writers to work directly with internet based entertainment companies or start up their own online based projects, hindering the future of the entertainment industry. Granted, The Financial Times isn't saying this, Patric Verrone, president of the WGA West, is saying this... and he's just saying it's possible. They even mention Will Ferrell's comedy site,, as an example.

It's an interesting scenario and saying something like this is more just a tactic to scare the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) into hurrying up and ending the strike, but... is this really a viable option for writers? I just don't think they could make as much money, or get as big an audience, if they were strictly in online. In fact, if I remember correctly, outside of "The Landlord", has had a rough time mainting traffic and it's backed by A-List, Hollywood heavyweights. That's also not to mention that I don't see too much advertising on that site, so I wouldn't be surprised if loses money and it's just a vehicle to throw out ideas, get ideas and find new talent. Now, I'm not saying that because I'm on the side of the AMPTP and think that people are losing money in online and it's all "promotional", I'm definitely not. I'm saying that whether or not these online entertainment sites are making money, there's no question that online initiatives are dwarfed by how much is being made through traditional outlets. Long and short, I really don't think, relatively, that media conglomerates are making much money in online. If entertainment IS to make money online, there's going to need to be some huge, fundamental changes in how the industry works and I do think it's coming.

So, what are these fundamental changes? I don't know (I have some ideas), but I do think we're on the verge of a massive change in how we view movies, tv and entertainment. This strike won't flip this bad boy around overnight, but it may just be the catalyst we need to make some changes and changes can only be good. If they can figure out easier ways to make money through online and alternate distribution methods, the floodgates will burst with independent films and projects. So, if you're a writer, filmmaker or doing anything in indie film and you're "on the outside - looking in" on issues like the strike... We need to let these guys duke it out, it may just start the wave of change we need to create new, better forms of distribution.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some new, kick-ass horror to be screened at Slamdance

I could write pages upon pages about the Slamdance Film Festival... and probably should in my film festivals section, but... uh, well... you know.

Slamdance is a true representation of what independent filmmaking is all about and it has the balls to take place in Utah at the same time as Sundance. It's a festival "by filmmakers for filmmakers" and showcases undistributed films by emerging filmmakers. Of course, with being a "true" independent film festivals, you're going to get a slew of horror. So, there's always going to be a bunch of artsy crap, then there's these films that look awesome - I've also linked to their own sites:

"Paranormal Activity", written and directed by Oren Peli. On the Slamdance site, it just says, "A supernatural thriller featuring shocking footage of a demonic haunting", but there's a bit more to it than that. It's about a young couple that suspects that their house is haunted, so they set up video surveillance... their surveillance and home videos have been edited into this 99 minute feature film. Brilliant! Keeps the budget low, the low-budget feel is justified and it all makes sense. I can't wait to see it... the buzz is really big.

"Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer", written and directed by Jon Knautz is "about an angry young plumber who witnessed his family's brutal murder when he was a child. Unknowingly, he awakens an ancient evil which forces him to confront his past and deal with the monstrous reality of the present." Once again, that blurb does NOT do the film justice. First off, you've got a great Robert Englund cameo AND it looks like it's filled with beasts, ghoulies and monsters. Think "Reanimator" meets "Evil Dead" meets "Slither". The better blurb is: Jack Brooks is a plumber who fights hellspawns, cameo by Robert Englund. I can't get enough of movies like this, they remind my of early Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson.

Finally, the last one that interests me is "Trailer Park of Terror", directed by Steven Goldmann. "Six troubled teens become stranded in a ramshackle trailer park where they meet Norma, an undead, trailer-trash babe with a killer body and cursed brood of Redneck Zombies." "Trailer Park of Terror" is based on the popular Imperium Comic series and, yeah... that blurb kinda sums it up.

Check 'em out, if you get the chance...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New horror worth checking out on DVD today

From now on, instead of writing about each movie that comes out, I'm just going to write about the ones worth mentioning. Saves me some time and makes this all a little more worth while... who needs to read about something that no one cares about? Anyways...

Brightly Entertainment has so much faith in the campy "Bikini Bloodbath" that they went out and finished the rest of the trilogy before the first one even came out - expect "Bikini Bloodbath 2: Bikini Bloodbath Car Wash" and "Bikini Bloodbath 3: Bikini Bloodbath Christmas" to hit the shelves in the next year or so. This first in the trilogy is about seven high school girls at a slumber party, who encounter a maniacal chef on a killing spree. It stars the always busy Debbie Rochon and a slew of young, well, bikini clad girls. I haven't seen it yet, but where could they possibly take the franchise from there? It would be like making a trilogy out of "Regarding Henry". It's written, directed and produced by Jon Gorman who, as far as I can tell, has nothing but the "Bikini Bloodbath" series to his credit.

"Hack!" is written and directed by Matt Flynn, who boasts on his 'mini biography' on IMDB to have written over a dozen scripts, most of which have been picked up. However, he only has "Hack!" and "The Light" to his credit and "The Light" is a short. I can't throw stones though, who hasn't lied on a resume? "Hack!" has a fairly healthy budget of around $2Mill for a low-budget, straight to DVD horror flick. So, you can expect a good, polished look, but I wouldn't expect much out of the story. Chock-filled with cliches, ripped-off dialogue and references to old horror movies, it probably won't excede your expectations. It'll land right where you think it should, alphabetically between "Gravedancers" and "I'll Always Know What you did Last Summer" on your 'only watched once' shelf. All things considered, that's not too bad...

"Undead or Alive" gets a big, fat, stinky WTF? However, it does have a great tagline - "Guns don't kill people. Zombies kill people." Feel free to use that, by the way... because no one's going to remember this film. It's written and directed by Glasgow Phillips, one of the writers of "South Park". "Undead or Alive" is a cowboy/zombie/comedy starring Saturday Night Live's Chris Kattan and "Desperate Housewives" James Denton. It's gotta be worth seeing, just to find out what the hell they were thinking. Seriously, how did this get a green light? Then again, he wrote for "South Park"... alright, I'll check it out, but... Chris Kattan? Wasn't C Thomas Howell or one of the Corey's available?

"Footsteps" is by first time director (and writer), Gareth Evans. The Welshman directed a short in 2003 when he was in film school and ended up helming his first major production a mere 3 years later. It premiered at the Swansea Bay Film Festival, where it won "Best Film". Unearthed picked up the rights to distribute it in the U.S. and.... here it is. It's about a loner who gets wrapped up in the world of snuff films and looks very serious. Don't expect any one-liners or levity here.

I'm very excited to report that "Blood Descendants" is, officially, the first ever slasher flick with an Amish killer. "Fulfilling a deadly curse, Jacob Bradford rises from his grave after more than a hundred years and exacts bloody revenge against the descendants of the men who murdered him." Simple plot, inventive slasher - expect violence, language and sex... and hopefully you can get over the fact that the killer sorta looks like Randy Quaid from "Kingpin".

Lastly, I wanted to mention both the rerelease of the original "Silent Night, Deadly Night" and "Tales of Terror Collection: From Tokyo And All Over Japan". "Silent Night, Deadly Night" is an all time classic, far better than the remake and is out in perfect time for the Christmas holidays. Remember, a family that slays together, stays together. "Tales of Terror Collection: From Tokyo And All Over Japan" is brought to you by Japan's up-and-coming masters of horror and is based on "Tales of Terror" told to the writers from different sources all over Japan. Japanese filmmakers brought us the J-horror wave, so I can only assume that checking out what the up-and-comers are doing would be worthwhile...

New on DVD - December 11, 2007:

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Most Liked" Screenplays of 2007

I'm commenting on this post from "/film", the blog that can be found here. "/film" is a great blog about about alternative movie news and reviews. The post is about a list that's put together by a guy who polled 90+ people in the industry to find out their favorite new, unproduced screenplays. However, I think it gives a bit of insight to the industry...

I can't help but notice that it's loaded with political drama's and horror is extremely far and few between. #7 - "The Road", about a ravaged postwar American landscape looks kinda interesting, but it sounds like you could easily throw Kevin Costner in there and call in "Postman II". It's based on a book from Oprah's book clubs, so... okay, enough said. Then, way further down the list we find "Jennifer's Body", "World War Z" and "Zombieland". "Jennifer's Body", about a possessed cheerleader, is from Diablo Cody, who is getting a lot of press lately, due to her "Juno" script. I've been hearing about "World War Z" for ages. It's based on the Max Brooks book about the aftermath of the zombie-human war. I heard Brad Pitt's production company picked up the rights... I'm way too lazy to look up his production company's name right now. Finally, "Zombieland" sounds a lot like "World War Z", but with a comic twist.

So, when are executives going to actually take a look at the numbers and get it? Last I checked (and I did check), in 2006, horror movies made up less than 20% of theatrically released films, but brought in around 35% of the years revenue. Politcal drama's made up around the same perentage of theatrically released films, cost a whole lot more to make and brought in around 10% of the years revenue. (all these numbers are approx., I checked it all out a while back and will have to go do it again) My question is, why are the studios into movies that don't make money?!?! If I pitched a politcal drama about (fill in the blank political figure) that ensued after (fill in the blank scandal) of (fill in the blank year), It'll get read and someone's interested... however, the 100's or 1,000's of original horror scripts that get tossed around never make anyone's "to do" list unless they're based on a book, written by someone who previously wrote political thrillers or is a remake of a classic horror film that should not be remade.

Where's all the original, kick-ass horror scripts? Right now, being produced on shoestring budgets and distributed independently, but that'll change... one day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Digital Cinema - the next big shift in Hollywood?

So, the music industry sorta missed the boat a while back and is desperately trying to claw it's way back to profitability. The digital "revolution" came along, the major labels didn't change their distribution structure and guess what? They paid the price... and they all paid the price, from the labels all the way down to the artists. Now, what can Hollywood do to avoid the same fate? P2P file sharing, VOD, IPTV and the like are all starting to chip away at the business and some people, like Mark Cuban and his 2929 Entertainment, are trying to shake things up by doing simultaneous releases online, in theater and on DVD. However, the studio's aren't biting, they're pretty much operating the same way as when 'moving pictures' first added sound.

Under the current theatrical distribution system, the theaters tend to only screen big budget movies. The reason they do this is because they need to ensure that they can sell enough tickets to pay for the cost of screening the film. A movie that only screens once or twice just doesn't make much economical sense. However, what would happen if we could eliminate the cost of shipping the film... and eliminate the time it takes to get to the theatre... and the cost to make it... what if we could just eliminate ALL of that and deliver it to the theaters instantly, on demand. What if we could send movies to the theater digitally?

In my opinion, digital cinema is going to change up everything for indie filmmakers, especially horror filmmakers. There's such a huge fan base for horror and, quite frankly, you don't need a massive budget to be good. A few days ago, I stumbled across the website of a company called International Datacasting, check out their site here. They specialize in products, systems, and service for broadband multimedia content distribution via satellite. Once of their products is digital cinema. Here's a schematic of how their system works...

Essentially, they take any sort of digital media and broadcast it, through a satellite system, to any destination, in a high quality format. Now, what would happen if theatres had this technology? Well... imagine a low-budget horror night in the cineplex where the theatre shows three trailers and the audience could vote on which one they want to see through text messaging, then which ever film gets the most votes would screen instantly. It would be a whole new market for low-budget filmmakers. You could upload your film to a central site and theatres across the world could opt to pick it up and screen it anywhere. No transferring to film, no shipping reels, no distribution costs. Just upload and screen it anywhere. What would this mean to the theatres? Infinite amounts of more product and choice at lower screening costs. All of a sudden, you could screen whatever your audience wants. If there's enough people that want to watch low-budget horror, screen low-budget horror. If people want to watch live sports, screen live sports. If people want to watch "Pirates of the Carribean VI", screen it. What would this mean to the studios? Well... obviously nothing good in the short term.

The studios, essentially, have what's called an oligopoly on a product, which means they're in a market that's dominated by only a select few. They can control what goes out by talking with each other, figuring out release schedules and not interfering with each other. This could be called collusion, which "takes place within an industry when rival companies cooperate for their mutual benefit." Having said that, there's no reason that they can't adjust their business plan and compete in this new marketplace. Maybe they could cater to a wider variety of people by making more product? All you'd have to do is spread your money around a little. Spend less per project and make more films. It may mean that all the above-the-line guys have to work a little harder and it may also mean that the studios would need more producers, directors, writers, etc... a big shift from the current system, to say the least.

I could write a book about this... but to some up, digital cinema would help the movie theaters, by offering more product at lower costs. It would help filmmakers because it opens up a new, more efficient, lower cost form of distribution into theatres. It would benifit film-goers, as it would offer them more choice. ...but it would hurt the studios in the short term.

So, we're not there yet, but we will... one day.

George W Bush finally recognizes a true threat.

I knew it...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New horror available today - Dec 4, 2007

Finally, it's a good week in horror... especially the low-budget variety. As usual, there's a bunch of rereleases, compilations and other garbage, but there's enough new stuff out here today that I don't have to tell you about the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Drive Me Crazy" double pack... although I really want to.

Relative newcomer, Gregory Wilson directs "Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door". I'm assuming they threw the "Jack Ketchum" in there so you don't confuse this one with the Elisha Cuthbert's Romantic Comedy of the same title. Although you don't have a half-naked Elisha Cuthbert, you do get 'sadistic torture and sexual abuse, nudity, language and strong sexual dialogue - all involving children'. Elisha... or child torture porn? I don't know, toss a coin. Based on the true story from 1958, it's about a teenage girl who is tied up in a basement and abused by her male cousins and neighborhood kids, under the orchestration of her aunt. I guess Elisha didn't want the part? It's got a lot of buzz and is probably worth checking out.

"Darkplace" stars the huge, tall freaky dude from "Devil's Rejects" and "Big Fish". Here, he plays the lawyer boyfriend of Elisha Cuthbert in Manhattan when they... okay, he plays a terrifying hillbilly giant who, along with the local preacher, exorcise their ritual of dark cleansing by locking you up inside an ancient box, forcing you to face your inner demons. A 10 year old boy gets locked up and his darkest fears sets loose an inferno of relentless evil. It's directed by Philip Adrian Booth, who's done a few other decent horror films and it's released by Spooked Television Releasing - a division of Spooked Productions.

There's not a lot out there about "The Devil of Blue Mountain", but I'll give it it's due because it's written and directed by's Top Underground Filmmaker of 1998, Joshua P. Warren. I believe he won the award after making "Inbred Rednecks". It's about a 'harrowing journey, following a disturbing abductor as he drags two attractive young women through a twisted wilderness.' Hmm... kinda sounds similar to...

"Razor's Ring" is about an ill-fated businessman, who is abducted by not one, but two killers and then taken to meet their even more sadistic (and hungry) family members. The tags include: horror, thriller, cannibal, rape and coming of age. So, it's kind of a coming of age horror about rape and cannibalism. It's not rated, by the way.

Speaking of low-budget, shot on DV (maybe even VHS, in this case), how about "Stiff Odds"? It's about the grim reaper, who's a conniving little twit and bears more than just a slight resemblance to a raging erection. He owns a booking business where the deceased can bet their luck on who's kicking the can next. Death then resurrects three disgruntled zombies, while two nit-wit teens get caught up in his mayhem and become pawns in this 'chop 'em up thriller'. Yup, you read that right. Don't believe me? Check out the trailer!

I'll quickly go through the other films of interest: "Disintegration" is about a guy who's a decendant of the union of angels and men and must find other decendant's or else he'll go mad. "Caregiver" is a nurse who works at a halfway house for dysfunctional teenage girls, then goes insane or something. "Mrs. Amworth" looks like a remake of the 1976 UK film of the same name, which is about a sexy, next door neighbor vampire who terrorizes a sleepy town. "Werewolf: The Devil's Hound" is as low-budget as they come. However, one reviewer wrote "hysterical and gory, what's not to love?", while another wrote, "it's more like "Werewolf: The Devil's Turd". Well... I'll guess you'll just have to judge for yourself.

New on DVD - December 4th, 2007:

Monday, December 3, 2007

Nevermore Film Fest coming up...

Go check out my Horror Film Festivals post. I've updated the Nevermore Film Fest section, as it's coming up pretty soon - February 22 - 24th, to be exact. I believe they're coming dangerously close to the submission deadline, so if you're looking to submit - do it now! If you're not looking to submit, but you're in the area - go check it out. They always have a pile of good movies.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Horror movies at Sundance

Sundance is the largest independent film festival in the U.S., so big that it can barely be called an "independent" film festival. It's more a launching ground for movies that aren't considered 'blockbusters', but have decent budgets and are backed by industry professionals . Where's the shot on DV films, put together on a shoestring budget by a couple of half baked kids from South Dakota? They're at Slamdance, which takes place in Park City at the same time. I might actually be going to Slamdance this year, check out their website here. It's a true showcase of independent horror. In any case... there's a bunch of horror titles screening at the Park City at Midnight lineup, part of the Sundance Film Festival.

"The Broken" is written and directed by Sean Ellis, who's biggest film to date would be "Cashback", the romantic comedy. "The Broken" is about a girl who sees herself drive past in her own car, so she follows this mystery woman up to her apartment and... then events take an eeire turn for the worse.

"George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead" has already screened up at the Toronto International Film Festival and has been picked up. Not only has it been picked up, they're already talking sequel, either way... they're screening it here.

"Donkey Punch" has the best title of the entire festival, but I wouldn't call it a horror. It's a about a bunch of guys who go out partying, one dies, then all hell breaks loose as they decide what to do.

"Funny Games" is written and directed by Michael Haneke, who's made a bunch of films over in the U.K., including... "Funny Games", which he made 10 years ago. The new one has American actors, same U.K. plot. Sweet.

Quentin Tarantino's 'Quentin Tarantino Presents' banner is releasing "Hell Ride", which was produced by Quentin Tarantino after Quentin Tarantino inspired Larry Bishop some years ago to write, direct and star in his own movie. He did just that. Why, exactly, is this at an independent film festival? Can anything with Tarantino's name on it possibly be considered independent? It's a bloody, sexy tale of motorcycle revenge, which doesn't sound like a typical Tarantino film to me.

"Otto" is definitely an indie horror. Written and directed by Bruce LaBruce, it's about a lonely gay zombie who searches for love and meaning in contemporary Berlin.

I can't say I'm excited for "Hell Ride" and I still haven't seen "Diary of the Dead", but I really need to. The other seem to fit the bill or indie horror, as well. Like I said earlier, take a walk over to The Slamdance festival... it'll be worth the price of admission and, no, it's not free.