Thursday, January 31, 2008

Michael Bay... please stop.

Michael Bay's production company, Platinum Dunes, is the company that remade "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "The Hitcher" and "The Amityville Horror". In October, it was announced that he was going to helm a remake/new interpretation of "Friday the 13th", they're planning on remaking "The Birds" and now, just announced, they're planning on relaunching the "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise... Michael, please. Listen to me. Put the checkbook down, come down off that high horse and let's talk about this.

Let's call a spade a spade, I understand why you're doing this - horror is cheap and easy to make and these franchises have built in audiences. I know you're guaranteed to make money on these films, usually at the expense of the franchises reputation, but I get it. I get why you're doing it, but let's consider some other options when delving into this genre, okay? Let's see if there's a way to avoid disasters like "The Hitcher", Rob Zombie's "Halloween" or "The Island". Okay, "The Island" had no reason to be included there, but... it was a disaster.

There's a huge gap between a low-budget indie horror and a low-budget Hollywood horror, but that gap is narrowing all the time. New forms of distribution and new outlets are leveling the playing field all the time, but Hollywood hasn't really noticed... nor do they seem to care. Instead of remaking an already successful and much loved film like "Friday the 13th" or "Nightmare on Elm Street", why wouldn't you scour the world of indie horror and find some popular franchises and films out there? Pick up the rights to some film that most mainstream people haven't heard of, but has a buzz in the horror festival circuits and fans sites and remake it with a budget? Everyone involved would be excited... you'd be bringing something new to the masses, you'd be giving some up and coming filmmaker his break and you'd have an original film that doesn't destroy 20 years of built up reputation, not that "Jason X" did much for the "Friday the 13th" franchise, but you get my point. If these producers would just take a look below them and see the ocean of potential and just give a few people a break, we could make leaps and bounds in bridging that gap between indie horror and Hollywood horror and be bringing new, good content to audiences.

So, here's my thought - Hollywood is lazy, I get that, too. They just do what they know and don't want to exert themselves to have to come up with something original. So, Micheal, I'll tell you what... pull out that checkbook now and write me a check. I'll scour the festivals, the internet and every nook and cranny out there and I'll find you something to remake, I'll find you a bunch of stuff to remake. I'll find you something that's original, something that's good, something that most people don't know about and, most importantly, something that won't make us all cringe and moan when we see the press release.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The MPAA is a bunch of liars

Not that anyone would remember (or care), but I wrote a post about how uploading your films to P2P sites can be a great marketing tool and I mentioned that the MPAA claimed that the film industry had lost $6.1 Billion due to piracy. My response was that "I'd really like to see how (they) came up with those numbers", as they seemed ridiculous. Well, guess what? It turns out that they just outright lied, here's the article in the L.A. Times... they had originally stated that 44% of the industry's losses came from illegal downloading, but now say that it's closer to 15%. Further, Mark Luker of Educause, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology, says the figure is probably closer to a paltry 3%. By that math, instead of $6.1 Billion lost to piracy, you'd be looking at closer to $400 Million or just a bit more than what "Spiderman 3" grossed domestically. The MPAA and Hollywood are trying SO hard to push for legislation against P2P file sharing that they refuse to see any side that isn't this 'bad nasty side', a side that may not even exist. Here's the thing... it's like they say in the stock market, "the trend is your friend" and you can't fight the trends, if you do, you're just going to fall behind - think about what's happening in the music industry. However, if you can understand and appreciate the trend, you can stay ahead of the game and thrive.

Let's take a look at "American Gangster", which racked up $43.6 million on approximately 5,300 screens on it's opening weekend, despite the fact that you could download a free DVD quality copy of the film off the P2P sites over a week before it hit the theaters. Further, pulling in over $130 Million domestically, over $234 Million Worldwide, it was ranked the 18th biggest movie at the box office in 2007 and would have to be considered a huge success for Universal and everyone involved. So, the film leaked, was available 10 days before it hit the theaters, yet it still opened at number 1? If you asked the MPAA or Hollywood, there should have been some sort of travesty here. So, what happened? I don't know, here's a thought - the film was good. My personal thoughts are, the people who download movies off the P2P sites aren't the same people who pay $10 to go to the theaters and that's what Hollywood doesn't get. You're really not losing a paying audience, you're actually gaining an audience that isn't paying. This non-paying audience will, however, keep you honest. They talk... they talk a lot. Like I've said many times before, if your film is good, the P2P sites can work to your advantage by creating a word-of-mouth effect, if it's bad... well, you tell me why "AVPR" only did $10 Million on its opening weekend.

So, my point is, P2P really doesn't really eat into your box office profits because it's not the same audience. What P2P really hurts, is companies like Blockbuster, Netflix and DVD sales in general. It's tough to sell something for $20 when it's available for free, so the P2P sites definitely devalue your product... but, I've been looking into what those companies are looking to do and, I have to say, I think they're figuring it out... but I'll leave that for another post.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jan 29, 2008 - New horror out on DVD today

There's a fair amount of new horror to go through today, so I'll just get to it...

I'll start with the big-budget flop, "The Invasion". Chances are that you're aware that this is a remake of the 1956 classic, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", which was based on the novel, "The Body Snatchers" and ended up spawning many a remake and rip-off, from the 1978 version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" to 1993's "Body Snatchers". The original novel and, subsequently, the 1956 version are truely good (I actually like the 1978 version, as well), but this version is a true cluster-F. Produced by Joel Silver, written by Dave Kajganich and initially directed by Oliver Hirschbiegl (real names, I swear), Warner Bros. later hired James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) to shoot scenes rewritten by the Wachowski brothers (The Matrix)... any time shit this happens, you know you have an unmitigated disaster on your hands. In this case, that stands true. It cost $65Million to make and only made $39Million worldwide...

The wait is over... finally, the long awaited sequel to Steve Miner's, "Lake Placid" comes out. "Lake Placid 2" was originally made for TV, starring John Schneider of "The Dukes of Hazzard" fame and was produced by Sony Pictures and the Sci Fi Channel. It aired as a Sci Fi original movie on April 28, 2007 and... I don't know, no one saw it. What you see here, available on DVD today, is the unrated edition... which means they added nudity.

Judging by the cover art, you may pass off "Deadly End" as a rip-off of "Rest Stop" or "Wrong Turn 2: Dead End", but if you did, you'd be missing out. "Deadly End" was originally called "Neighborhood Watch", written and directed by Graeme Whifler and completed in 2005. One of the writers of "Dr. Giggles", Whifler spent the bulk of his career directing music videos and "Deadly End" marks his feature-length directorial debut. It was in tons of film festivals throughout 2006 and has finally been picked up for distribution with this alternate title. Morbid and disturbing, the film is about Adrien, who has a dark obsession with poison and self-mutilation and within the walls of his rancid home, hides pure madness.

"The Unknown Trilogy" is written, directed and stars Sal Mazzotta, who's a consumate independent filmmaker. He's played bit parts in lots of big time movies, such as "Twelve Monkeys" and "Fallen", but since 1998, he's been concentrating on independent filmmaking. "The Unknown Trilogy" might not be for die-hard horror fans, as it's more of a thriller than anything else, but I like to promote it because Sal looks like a true indie kind of guy. "The Unknown Trilogy" - 'Somewhere between the boundaries of life and death, lays the darkest places in the human heart. In these dimly lit recesses crouch fears older than mankind itself. Yet only by visiting this netherworld from time to time can we hope to unearth what lurks just beyond the grasp of our imaginations. The Unknown Trilogy dares to navigate these shadowy passages in three chilling tales that will make you glad you decided to come along for the ride...' sounds pretty heavy-handed.

I'll bet you didn't know there was a "Punk Rock Holocaust 1", did you? Well, here's "Punk Rock Holocaust 2". Doug Sakmann wrote it, directed it, produced it, acts in it, was the cinematographer, as well as the editor. Now THAT is a true indie filmmaker, but where would you learn to do all that? That's right, Sakmann comes from the world of Troma films, thus the cameo by Lloyd Kaufman as Satan. "Punk Rock Holocaust 2" is about a slasher running loose during the Vans Warped tour and it's everything that you'd expect from a graduate of the school of Troma, plus you get some kick-ass music from the tour.

"Aftermath/Genesis" are two short films from director Nacho Cerda from Spain, who shoots his movies with no dialogue, using classical music to enhance elaborate camera movements. It's actually suspected that Cerda made the famous sequence "The Roswell Alien Autopsy" because it has many similarities to the short included here, "Aftermath".

I can't find much out about "1942", except that it's distributed under the Tartan Asia Extreme label, which comes out with all the J-Horror films that the crappier North American ones are based on, such as "The Eye" and "Ringu", but they also come out with one's that just couldn't or wouldn't be remade, like "Oldboy" and "A Tale of Two Sisters".

You have to commend Justin Channell, writer and director of "Die and Let Live". At only 20 years old, he's written and directed three feature films. At 15, he founded The Mini-Cinema Film Festival, at 17, he raised most of the budget for his first feature film, "Raising The Stakes" by pocketing money from a trip to Disney and he's currently the webmaster for the Troma fan site, Tromatized! Influenced by Troma and shooting on an ultra-low budget, you should already know what you're getting, but... come on, if you're ever going to support indie film, this is a film to pick up.

"Greenhouse Gore Two-Fer" is actually two old films brought to you from Subversive Cinema, "The Gardener", originally called "Seeds of Evil" in 1975 and "The Freakmaker", originally called "The Mutations" in 1974. "The Mutations" is a so-called horror classic about a guy who turns students into man-eating plants and "Seeds of Evil" is about a gardener who sleeps with rich women then poisons them with plants. More interesting would be the documentary short called, "The Distribution of Low Budget Films or The Gardener's Seeds of Evil Killed My Million Dollar Dream" from 1980, which is about the struggles that James Kay had when distributing "Seeds of Evil". I'd love to get my hands on that...

There's a slew of other old films being rereleased for the first time on DVD, most notably: "The Val Lewton Horror Collection with Martin Scorses Presents Val Lewton Documentary", which may be worth seeing just for the documentary. The rest of them just look like cash-grabs, but I do like the title, "Barn of the Naked Dead". Here's the rest of what's available: "42nd Street Forever Vol. 3: Exploitation Explosion", "Tragic Ceremony", "Eugenie de Sade", "Ants/Tarnantulas", "Euro Trash: Triple Feature"

New on DVD today:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Link-apalooza - a couple horror related links with some thoughts

A few links that I came across and my thoughts on them... I think I'll do this every Monday from now on.

'Spartans' win box-office battle - "Meet the Spartans" beats out "Rambo" and helps push "Cloverfield" to fourth, just behind "27 Dresses". I'm sorry, but... seriously? I have posted before on why I think stuff like this is happening, mainly because I don't think people are done with R-rated movies.... I just think that the R-rated audience is looking elsewhere for content, but this is sad... really, really sad. "Meet the Spartans" Wow.

Veoh Inks Deal With FearNet - FearNet will be launching a branded channel on Veoh in an attempt to reach a larger audience, as they don't have much of an audience as is. Veoh is, according to their website, "a diverse, virtual community of indie publishers coming together with their new audiences" and FearNet is, according to their website, "a cutting edge network that brings horror fans uninterrupted FEAR 24/7 wherever and whenever they want". FearNet, by the way, is a joint venture between Comcast, Sony Pictures and Lionsgate, which doesn't sound like an "indie publisher" to me... to be honest, I'm not a fan of FearNet, mostly because it's just a huge marketing tool and it could be much, much more, but I do like that this is happening... because it could work, if they did it for the right reasons, but they're not.

3-D, Zombies and Secrecy: Geekiest Films at Sundance 2008 - Wired covered Sundance and wrote a blurb about their 12 favorite films at Sundance. I like Wired... and zombies, so... I like this link.

Horror Movie Razzie Nominations - wrote a list of all the horror movies that were nominated for Razzie's, which... if you didn't know, are the "worst of" awards. Lindsay Lohan's "I Know Who Killed Me" received a LOT of nominations this year.

The Kentucky Horror Show - The orginal name of the film was "The Kentucky Fried Horror Movie", but they changed it because KFC threatened to sue. A few blogs and websites were all pissed off because the "corporation" was suing the "little guy", but you can't buy that kind of promotion! These guys haven't even started filming yet and they've got a huge buzz about the film. If I was them, I'd be jumping for joy when I got that email from their lawyers. Not to mention, the site and artwork look fantastic. Can't wait...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Who to root for at the Academy Awards... from a horror perspective, of course

The Academy Awards usually doesn't offer much for horror fans to root for, until they get to sound editing, special effects and awards like that. So, knowing that most industry people have skeletons in their closets, so to speak, I figured that, just for shits and giggles, I'd look into all the big Academy Award nominated films and see what kinds of ties to horror they have....

"Michael Clayton" (Best Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Directing, Music, Best Picture, Original Screenplay) - There's the easy connection in that Clooney is, and always will be, Seth Gecko from "From Dusk Till Dawn". I don't know much about this "Michael Clayton" film, but with quotes like, "Alright vampire killers, let's kill some fucking vampires" and "Your best better get a whole lot fucking better or you are going to feel a whole lot fucking worse", "From Dusk Till Dawn" should've won an award or two. That's not the best tie to horror, though... "Michael Clayton" was shot by Robert Elswit, an award winning DP, who also shot "Return of the Living Dead II" and "Trick or Treat" with Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne. You remember "Trick or Treat" - "what are you afraid of? It's only rock and roll"

"There Will Be Blood" (Best Actor, Art Direction, Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Best Picture, Sound, Adapted Screenplay) - Surprisingly, this one's a bit tougher... Daniel Day-Lewis has played some gritty roles, but never in a horror. Further, Paul Thomas Anderson, the director, hasn't done much horror... So, I'm liking the supporting actor in "There Will Be Blood", Kevin J. O'Connor, who was the prisoner from "Flight of the Living Dead", Igor from "Van Helsing" and that general nuisance from "The Mummy". Surprisingly, he hasn't been nominated for anything, ever.

"Atonement" (Supporting Actress, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Original Score, Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay) - It's a bit of a stretch, but the Academy Award winning screenwriter is Christopher Hampton, who also wrote "Mary Reilly", but that's barely a horror. The only other tie would be that one of the producers, Tim Bevan, also produced "Shaun of the Dead".

"The Diving Bell and The Butterfly" (Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Adapted Screenplay) - I thought it would be a lot harder, but Max von Sydow's in this, who's probably best known for being Father Lankester Merrin in "The Exorcist" and "The Exorcist II", but he's also been in "Conan The Barbarian", "Dune", "Needful Things", "Judge Dredd" and... I think that's it, I think that's all the movies he's ever been in, ever. Oh, and the 1957 classic "The Seventh Seal", but that's it, though... no more. He's done basically nothing in his career but horror and now "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly".

"Juno" (Best Actress, Directing, Best Picture, Original Screenplay) - "Juno"'s written by Diablo Cody, who's next script is "Jennifer's Body", a sci-fi thriller about a possessed cheerleader turned killer, but I can do better than that. How about the fact that it's edited by Dana E. Glauberman, who also helped cut... yup, you got it, "Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence".

"Sweeney Todd" (Best Actor, Art Direction, Costume Design) - This one's low hanging fruit. First off, it actually is a horror film, secondly it's got Johnny Depp, most famously known for playing Glen Lantz in the original "Nightmare on Elm Street", but let's go obscure... "Sweeny Todd"'s unit publicist was Sarah Cark, who was also the unit publicist on "28 Days Later"... coincedence? I don't think so.

"No Country for Old Men" (Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Best Picture, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Adapted Screenplay) - There's a few easy one's, like Woody Harrelson was also in "Natural Born Killers", the Coen's did "Blood Simple" or even that one of the Coen's first scripts was "Crimewave", Sam Raimi's follow up to "Evil Dead". Side note: If you're a Bruce Campbell, Coen brothers or Sam Raimi fan and you haven't seen "Crimewave", go find it. You'll watch it and think, the Coen brothers and Sam Raimi did THIS? Jesus, if they can make it, I can make it. Regardless, my horror connection from "No Country for Old Men" will be from Stephen Root, who's character is the "guy who hires Wells". He's probably best known as the guy from the TV show, "News Radio"... but, his second role ever? Dean Burbage from "Monkey Shines".

"Ratatouille" (Best Animated Feature, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Original Screenplay) - Wow... uh, the editor, Darren T. Holmes was the apprentice editor on "Wolfen".

There, done. Now you know who to cheer for.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Streaming vs. downloading and what it means for indie film

One of the big issues in Hollywood right now is content distribution on the web, it's one of the roots of the current WGA strike and probably the biggest concern for the media companies right now. If you look at sites like: Fancast, Hulu, Joost, MeeVee and Veoh, it would seem that the industry is going with the streaming video model. It's definitely easier for the older demographic to figure out (say, 40+), you just find content on one of those sites, then push play. Also, the media companies like it because it's not that much different than traditional TV and it's easy to monetize through advertising. There's a lot of money behind all these streaming video sites, but guess what? They should be looking at the alternative to streaming video, they should be looking at downloading sites. Ipsos Insight did a study, here's the link, and younger consumers actually lean towards the free downloads model, while older consumers lean toward the free streams. While that younger, tech-savvy generation gets older, it should mean that the future is in downloading, not streaming. Faster computers, wider broadband and advancing technologies will all enable users to download huge media files faster and faster. So, where does this leave indie filmmakers?

Well, here's the problem... streaming video is easier to monetize, but much like the current system, the sites that distribute your content will be getting most of the ad revenue. Just ask any member of the WGA what they think. Besides, it's been proven that people may watch a few minutes on their computer, but a feature length film? So, I really don't see streaming video as much of an opportunity for indie filmmakers. However, downloading content is a different story. Downloading content means you're not confined to your computer, that user can take that content anywhere - they can put it in their portable media player, watch it on their computer or burn it to DVD. So, this is a viable distribution method for indie filmmakers... Now, where do you upload your film for distribution? Well, right now the popular place would be a P2P site. As I've mentioned before (link), P2P sites can offer indie filmmakers a great marketing opportunity, but you are offering up your film for free as the cost of that marketing. So, how can you make money off of downloads? The first way is by charging people to download it, which would be like the iTunes model. In fact, iTunes, Amazon and Netflix are all going to be offering paid download models soon. What would be a great idea for them is to offer an uploading feature, where people with feature films can upload their films and make it available to all users, then they share revenue. I wouldn't be surprised if you do see that one day. However, it's widely known that people generally don't like paying for their downloads, so I think there's another way... and it's advertising.

In 2006, "Akeelah and the Bee" was released in the theaters and was funded mainly by Starbucks. The film was heavily promoted in Starbucks, as well as sold in Starbucks. The budget was fairly low and it grossed over $18Million, which is a low gross by Hollywood standards, but huge by, say, indie horror standards. Without writing a novel, I think there will come a time when there's an agency that finds advertisers willing to fund movies. In exchange, the advertisers will get branding on everything, an ad that runs before the movie, product placement in the film, a bunch of PR, etc. If your making a movie with a budget of $100Million, this isn't going to work, but if your budget is $500,000, this is definitely a system that would work. The advertiser is happy with getting exposure and the filmmaker would've gotten a paycheck just for making their film... all revenue after the fact would just be gravy.

This is just one idea and I have lots more on where things are going, but where Hollywood is scared of the future, I think indie filmmakers should be rubbing their hands in anticipation.

Richard Poche's "Crimson", a true indie horror.

I had the chance to watch Richard Poche's "Crimson" a few days ago, which is definitely worth checking out. It's about a group of nursing students that stumble upon a bloodied up girl named Sammi, whom they drag back to their sorority house, only to find that Sammi's on the run from a vampire cult... which they, subsequently, get caught up in. It's a great story, it's really well acted and it's cut together very nicely. I thought it could use some nudity and a bit more over-the-top gore, but... that could just reflect my own personal preferences. In the end, it's a true indie horror and you should check it out. Here's a link to Poche's site where you can buy yourself a copy. Also, there's a 10-minute special feature of outtakes, which you'll get a good laugh at, if you've ever been on the set of a low-budget film.

This does, however, give me an opportunity to bring up something that consistently bugs me. Filmmakers, such as Richard Poche, are out making films like "Crimson" on a shoestring budget, they're marketing it themselves and, in a lot of cases, distributing it themselves. As far as I'm concerned, this is what independent film is about. When I see the news, reviews and reports out of festivals like Sundance, which happens to be going on right now, where they talk about indie-this and indie-that, Paul Giamatti, Sam Rockwell, blah, blah... Are you really talking about independent films? In the actual context of term, sure - you're making a film independently of the studio system, but these "independent films" have big-time funding and most of them have some sort name talent attached. Compared to most indie horror films, these are big-budget movies with serious names behind them.

Anyhow, that's why I love seeing a well made, true indie film like "Crimson" and will always promote films like it. So, support indie film and pick up a copy of "Crimson", once again, here's the link and if you've made an indie film that you need to promote, let me know about it... I'm more than happy to discuss it on the site.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jan 22, 2008 - New Horror out on DVD today

There's only five horror DVD's being released today and the first one was one of the biggest horror movies of 2007, "Saw IV". The rest, although not as well known, offer some compelling reasons to check them out. "When Evil Calls" was the world's first 'made for mobile' series, which has now been edited together and distributed by Lionsgate, "Dungeon of Dr. Dreck" is made by and based on a small cable access show in Central Massachusetts, "The Bushwhacker" was too violent for theaters 40 years ago and "The Kingdom - Series One and Two" is just really darn nifty.

"Saw IV" continues the story of Jigsaw and his quest to teach people the value of their lives, even though Jigsaw and his apprentice both died at the conclusion of "Saw III", but... you probably figured that out. What you might not know is that this installment is the first "Saw" film to not be written by either James Wan or Leigh Whannell, the co-creators... this one was written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, who were given the task of figuring out how to keep the franchise alive, even though the killer is now dead. They did a pretty good job, in fact, they did such a good job that they've been picked up to pen both "Saw V" and "Saw VI". The film opened at #1 at the box office on October 26, 2007, even though most of the reviews were negative... and I really don't know why. This one didn't really have many jump-scares, but there's plenty of good gore and killings to entertain all you torture porn fans. The plot is a bit convoluted, but come on. It's a horror film, let it go. The "Saw" franchise really is a big success story in my eyes, with the first one being done for around $1Million by a couple of unknowns and now, four years later, there's been four films with a combined budget of $25.2Million and the franchise has pulled in gross revenues of over $530Million. Mr. Wan and Mr. Whannell, my hat's off to both of you and I look forward to "Saw V".

"When Evil Calls" is an extremely original concept... not the story, but how it was delivered. Shot as 20 - 2 minute episodes, "When Evil Calls" is the world's first made-for-mobile horror series. It was written and directed by rising British horror star, Johannes Roberts, who also made "Forest of the Damned" and "Darkhunters". It's based on the same idea as "Monkey's Paw" or "Wishmaster", basically 'be careful what you wish for', however this is about a clown genie that comes out of a cell phone. Lionsgate picked up the rights and is releasing it, re-edited, as a feature film. Filled with homages to various horror films, lots of nudity and over the top gore, it's worth while to check out. If not for the comedy, horror and boobies, because of the concept.

"The Dungeon of Dr. Dreck" is actually a cable access show that airs in Central Massachusetts, starring Dr. Dreck and his lovely, dead co-host, Moaner, a zombie cheerleader who attends George Romero High School. On the show, they broadcast old horror, sci-fi and mystery thrillers, but the film is, well... an actual film. It's not really horror, it's slap-stick style comedy, but it's about horror, so to speak. Don't expect much more than 90 minutes of cable access humor on a shoe-string budget, but that might be exactly what you're looking for. I won't judge.

"The Bushwhacker" was originally released in 1968 and was considered way too violent for audiences and most theaters wouldn't even show it due to its controversial mix of sex and gore. By today's standards, it probably isn't that bad, but... remember, people died in the theaters watching "The Exorcist", but at least that got shown. "The Bushwhacker" is about a woodsman who manages to shoot down an airplance with his rifle, then hunts down the survivors, who are the pilot and three beautiful female passengers. Expect rape, nudity, violence and gore... sixties style.

"The Kingdom" is an eight-episode Danish television mini-series, originally called "Riget", which means... something in Danish, possibly "The Kingdom", I'm not entirely sure. Stephen King actually developed his mini-series, called "Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital", based on this. The eight episode's were edited together to make "The Kingdom Series One", then the second mini-series was edited together to make "The Kingdom Series Two". Apparently there's a lot of unanswered questions at the end of the second series, but don't expect them to be answered... ever. Five of the cast members died and they figured it would be too hard to finish it all up. Von Trier sent the unfinished scripts over the Stephen King, but due to the overwhelming success of "Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital", let's just say they probably won't get made. If that doesn't convince you to see it, maybe this will - it's one of the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', a film book compiled by various critics worldwide.

New horror on DVD, Jan 22, 2008:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Uwe Boll, I agree with you

Uwe Boll is easily this generations Ed Wood, having made some of the most critically panned horror films in recent history, including: "Alone in the Dark", "BloodRayne", "BloodRayne II: Deliverance" and "House of the Dead". He has seven films in different stages of production currently and he just released his biggest budget film to date, "In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale", which had a $60Million budget and has only pulled in a mere $8Million worldwide to date. However, before it was released, Uwe Boll wrote a letter to the guys over at, a site dedicated to, you guessed it, bashing Uwe Boll. The letter basically rips on the major media conglomerates, Hollywood, as well the film "First Sunday", which was the opening weekend competition for "In The Name of The King" and, you know what? I think I agree with a lot of what he's saying.

Before I get to his letter, this is a great opportunity for those who aren't familiar with Uwe, to get to know the good doctor. Dr. Uwe Boll, born June 22, 1965 in Wermelskirchen, Germany, is the self-proclaimed leading expert on adapting video games for the big screen. Film critics, however, continually throw him under the bus and the internet community considers him to personify everything that's wrong with film today. When the creator of Metal Gear heard the Boll was interested in adapting his game into a film, he lashed out on his blog, saying that there's no way that Boll would ever be able to touch it. Uwe actually made headlines in 2006 when he challenged his critics to "put up or shut up" and challenged his five harshest critics each to a 10 round boxing match. The event was dubbed "Raging Boll" and Boll fought and won against all five participants. Even though he's been nominated twice for "worst director" at the Razzie's, he can continually make films due to German tax laws that reward investments in film - a law that allows investors to write off 100% of their investment as a tax deduction... Always busy making stinker films, he's just announced that he's doing "Legend: Hand of God", he's in pre-production on "Zombie Massacre", in production on "BloodRayne 3", "Sabotage 1943" and in post-production on "Far Cry" and "Tunnel Rats". "Seed", "Postal", "They Wait" and "BloodRayne II: Deliverence" are out now... somewhere.

Now, to that letter... here's a link. When reading it, you have to remember that, essentially, Uwe Boll is an independent filmmaker that works outside the studio system. He may be able to get funding for his films, but he's not getting the marketing dollars that the studios put behind their films and those marketing dollars are what get you a big opening weekend. Sure, he calls "First Sunday" a "piece of shit" and that may, or may not have been called for, but he does have a point. As an independent filmmaker, you have to compete with the big boys and you're not going to be able to do market studies or buy advertising time on network TV, radio or newspapers. The major studios are all, generally, owned by big media conglomerates and they will promote their own films through their own outlets, blanketing the media, so the little guy can't be heard. So, really... Dr. Boll has a right to be pissed, but it's still funny that he defends his film because it "has the power to stay 3 weeks in the TOP TEN and that (they) can get at least 50% good reviews". Are those really things to be proud of?

So, assuming that the distribution system stays the way it is now, the way I see it, there's two things that need to happen to change this all around. (1) Indie filmmakers need to get creative with their marketing and (2) movie-goers need to see past all the studio's advertising. The key to changing both things lays with the internet. Addressing the first issue, it's a cheap tool to market your film. As for the second issue, people need to use the internet to research what they want to watch, not brainlessly do what mainstream advertising tells them to do. The only other way to change this around, of course, is to change the way films are distributed... and they may happen sooner than Hollywood thinks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WTF is Pangea Day? ...and why I think whatever it is, is stupid.

I've been stewing about this post for a while and, originally, it was going to be more about ripping on Pangea Day, but now it's more about a point that I want to make. Either way, here's the link to Pangea Day's official site, so you can check it out for yourself and see what I'm talking about.

Pangea Day, as far as I can tell, is a four hour program of film submissions from all over the world that should "tell a story that someone else on the other side of the world will be able to relate to". Further, being subjected to this event will "help people see themselves in others – through the power of film". I would call this an interesting experiment, maybe an art project, at best... I really don't know why they even used film as the delivery mechanism, but because they did, I see this project having the same problem that a lot of indie horror films have. That problem is, you really can't be every film to every person... the more you try to cater to everyone, the less people you're actually going to reach. (Unless you're "Pirates of the Caribbean" or "Harry Potter", but they're designed like that for a reason. See my post from a couple days ago on PG movies) The reason is that this is a generation that knows what it wants because there's so much out there and they have access to all of it. You'll be far more successful if you are a great film in your niche sub-genre than if you're an average film that spans various genres. That's what I think the organizers of Pangea Day don't get.

Sure, they'll get a lot of interest from so-called scholars, a few hippies and that older, peace-loving demographic that's doesn't "get" this generation. ...and, fine, if that's who you're looking to reach, have at 'er. You can all sit around and talk about how today's generation is so lost. Quite frankly, I really don't care... but don't try to make this look like it's something for film fans. I don't think they'll care about some guy in Yakutsk who filmed a short about life in his village. Maybe other people in his village will care, but Sven in Sweden sure doesn't, he's got his own problems with his windmill to deal with. ...and I don't care what either of them are doing, I just want to see a good slasher flick. Trying to make something for everyone just doesn't work, especially if you're trying to cater to everyone in the whole wide world.

Now, for my point and, remember, this doesn't apply to the Hollywood blockbusters. If you're making a movie, figure out what genre it is. I mean really figure it out. Is it horror, drama, comedy? Is it about aliens, ghosts, a slasher? Is it a B-Movie, gore, boobie movie? I can go on and on breaking it down (Amazon has 21 sub-categories under "horror", by the way), but... say you're doing a straight-to-DVD gore film about a mutant slasher, running amok in the city after he was bitten by a hooker who was a government experiment gone wrong. When you're in pre-production, go out and find other movies in that sub-genre and take a good, hard look at the few that did work, as well as the ones that didn't work. (for this particular random idea, I'm thinking "C.H.U.D.", "American Werewolf in London" or "Mulberry Street" may make for good studying) Now, figure out exactly what you want to do, differentiate yourself from the others in the sub-genre where necessary and get to work. I see too many films that decided to lay off the gore, go easy on the nudity or make the characters more mainstream. Be extreme, be niche. If you can be really good or even just different in a very small, niche genre and impress that specific audience, good word of mouth will do the rest. If you're going to try to make a film that everyone in the world can enjoy, you're just going to get lost in the ocean of other films that tried to be every film to every person, like this Pangea Day project... which I'm not going to go see.

An official review of "Cloverfield"

Head on over to, where they just posted an official review of "Cloverfield". Here's a direct link to the review.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jan 15, 2008 - New Horror today on DVD that's worth checking out

There's definitely a few DVD's worth picking up this week, including the Asian imports "Red Eye" and "Matrimony", the indie "The Attic", a few Italian movies and, finally, the 20th anniversary edition of "Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers". All things considered, a pretty good day...

Don't mistake this version of "Red Eye" with the Wes Craven version that was also released in 2005. This version of "Red Eye" was actually called "Redeu-ai" in it's native Korea, which, directly translated, of course, means... "Red Eye". This one's written and directed by Dong-bin Kim, who also wrote and directed the Korean rip-off of "The Ring", which he called "The Ring Virus" and I'm pretty sure he came up with that title himself. So, is this about a Korean girl who gets involved in an assination plot while flying the red eye to Seoul? Nope, it's about a stewardess who joins the night shift crew of a haunted train that comes alive and kills people, which, as far as I can tell, didn't really need to be called "Red Eye". Regardless, "Redeu-ai" or "Red Eye" did screen at a few film festivals, including The Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film and the Silver Lake Film Festival.

"Matrimony" is the other Asian import, this one from China. It's directed by Hua-Tao Teng, who's done a couple of other films, both of which I've never heard of ("Sky of Love" and "One Hundred"), but I'm sure they were big hits in Hong Kong. Anyhow, I can't find too much about "Xin zhong you gui"... sorry, "Matrimony", except for the plotline, which is intriguing enough for me - "A woman finds the key to a room in the attic that her husband forbids her from entering. When she opens the door, she is confronted with the haunting existence of the woman her husband refuses to forget." I have to say, having a room in your house that "her husband forbids her from entering" may fly over there in China, but... "Hey, Frank, where's the bathroom?" "Over there" "Here?" "Shit, no... don't go in there, my wife won't let me go in there." "What's in there?" "I don't know, she forbids me from going in there." "Wow, we better not go in there..."

Oddly enough, the last movie could've been called "The Attic", but it wasn't... this one is... and it has nothing to do with a women who's forbidden to go in her attic, this woman is more than welcomed to go in her attic. Actually, there's a cool story behind how this film got made. Tom Malloy started out as an actor, but found himself losing out on some parts and basically only getting extra work and bit roles, so he decided to start studying every aspect of filmmaking. Since then, he has been an actor, writer, editor, producer and, of course... a motivational speaker. (You can't make this up, reminds me of "Little Miss Sunshine") However, it's always been about the acting... So, he set out to write the "scariest movie ever" and came up with the script for "The Attic", which is about Emma Callan and her family, who move into a new home where Emma starts having ghastly visions of a girl who appears to be her twin, but is pure evil. He shopped it around to everyone he knew and eventually got a budget of just under $1Million. He then managed to land director Mary Lambert, who has done some crazy horror films, including: "Pet Sematary", a "Tales from the Crypt" episode, "Pet Sematary II", "Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge" and "Urban Legends: Bloody Mary" and put himself in one of the lead roles in the film.

"Ghost Son" is the latest from Italian filmmaker, Lamberto Bava, a protege of Dario Argento's. He worked as a personal assistant, assistant director and screenwriter with his father, Mario Bava, before he began working as an assistant director with Dario Argento on "Inferno" and "Tenebrae". Eventually, Bava started directing and was involved with Argento on "Demons" and "Demons 2", then directed "The Changeling 2" on his own, which was an unofficial sequel to "The Changeling". He spent a lot of years on "Fantaghiro", which is an Italian fantasy TV show before coming up with "The Torturer" and now "Ghost Son". If you're into classic Italian horror, this is for you... "Ghost Son" is about a young mother who realizes that her newborn baby is actually housing the ghost of her recently deceased husband, who impregnated her after he died... and now wants to kill her.

...and another film from an Italian director, "Land of Death" is from Bruno Mattei. Now, if you don't know Bruno Mattei, he is a bit of cult director, making piles of rip-offs and exploitation films. The film that brought him to fame was his nazi exploitation classics, "KZ 9" and "SS Girls". He went on to create a bunch of zombi, nun exploitation and other knock offs after the so-called "success" of his previous films. He's made over 50 films and all of them would be considered low budget crap, but he's got a huge cult following. "Land of Death" was made in 2003, then he went on to make six more films before passing away on May 21, 2007. "Land of Death" draws from a few movies, but mostly from "Predator"... Seriously, just replace a hunter from the future with a bunch of cannibals and you've got the plot to "Land of Death". If you don't believe me, pick it up.

The remaining movies are old films that are finally getting a DVD release, including:

Jose Maria Forque's "Autopsy, made in 1972, is another Italian film. This one is about a young woman who marries a blind old man for his money, has an affair with his driver, then finds herself in the middle of a murder-for-money plot involving the servents.

Kenneth Hartford's "Monstroid: It Came from the Lake, made in 1978, is for all you B-Movie fans. Based on real events, a rural Colombian village is attacked by a horrible sea serpent, aroused by industrial pollution of a nearby lake.

Ota Richter's "Skullduggery", made in 1983, is something really special... with unanimous bad reviews, I dare you to see the film about Adam, a man who happens to come from a long line of cursed men and, subsequently, succumbs to the curse and goes on a killing spree.

Richard Ashe's "Track of the Moonbeast", made in 1976, is, basically, a Mystery Science Theater 3000 type film. During a meteor storm, a guy gets hit with a fragment and causes him to mutate into a giant reptilian monster that goes on a murderous rampage.

Last, but by no means least, Fred Olen Ray's classic "Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers 20th Anniversary Edition" finally makes it out on DVD. It's every bit the low-grade, low-budget, horror-comedy, boob-fest that you'd expect from a film that's about a bunch of chainsaw weilding prostitutes that like to carve people up for their cult. "Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers", they charge an arm and a leg!

New on DVD - January 15th, 2008:

Monday, January 14, 2008

What's with all this PG-13 stuff?

I was just looking through the 2007 figures on boxofficemojo and there really is some interesting stuff going on. Consider the following:

Total Movies: 407 (I'm assuming this is MPAA rated movies that had theatrical releases)
Total Gross at Box Office: $9,222,500,000.00

G Movies released: 8 for a 2.0% market share
G Movies Gross: $372,300,000 for a 4.0% market share

PG Movies released: 61 for a 15.0% market share
PG Movies Gross: $2,062,400,000 for a 22.4% market share

PG-13 Movies released: 132 for a 32.4% market share
PG-13 Movies Gross: $,4,462,000,000 for a 48.4% market share

R Movies released: 204 for a 50.1% market share
R Movies Gross: $2,321,200,000 for a 25.2% market share

NC-17 Movies released: 2 for a 0.5% market share
NC-17 Movies Gross: $4,600,000 for a negligible amount of market share.

Before I get into what I think this means and where I think this is leading us, I should preface all this by saying this blog is about horror, but don't mistake "R" for "horror" in this case. Only one of the top 5 grossing R rated movies, "Saw IV", would actually be considered a "horror". Two of them were comedies. In fact, "Saw IV", which came in at #5 overall, grossed almost $60Mill less than #4, "Superbad", which pulled in $121Mill. I should also quickly say that this is, of course, not to say that the economics of actually producing a horror movie are bad, as I do believe that horror is consistantly the most profitable genre. This is all about box office trends and what's going on with the studios... and here's what's going on: PG and PG-13, which are basically the same, made up for 30.7% of all movies made and brought in 70.3% of the box office gross! So, what the hell is going on?

I think there's a lot of righteous folks who would tell you that this shows that people just don't want R rated movies anymore, they want family friendly movies. People are sick of sex and violence and want a fun movie that everyone can enjoy... Well, let's look at the top 5 grossing movies of 2007, which all happen to be rated PG or PG-13. There's "Spider-Man 3", "Shrek the Third", "Transformers", "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix". So, 4 sequels and a franchise movie. So, do we all want to watch PG rated movies like "Underdog" and "Wild Hogs" or were the studios just saying, "well, all our big films on our slate have a built in audience, so let's just make sure they're all PG rated, so that everyone and their dog can go see them". Does that mean that the studios are turning their big, mainstream theatrical releases into mindless pabulum for the masses?

I think so. The studios dump so much money into their big movies that they essentially require them to be PG, so the biggest potential audience can go see them. Why cut off consumers? Further, this is also why the only 'big' horror movies that come out in the theaters are remakes, sequels or have some name attached.... if you can't prove to the executives that you have a built in audience, ready to go see it regardless of how it turns out, good luck getting a green light. Sadly, this means that film has become less an art and more so a marketing project. That's if you can call films like "Hatchet", "28 Weeks Later" or "The Host" 'art' with a straight face... I can.

Sounds pretty bleak, doesn't it? Well, don't fret. This isn't the end of new, cutting edge horror. In fact, I think we may be on the verge of a rebirth. There's a very healthy straight-to-DVD market for horror and there's lots of ways to find new titles, including magazines like Fangoria or Rue Morgue, as well as sites like this one. Where I think we're going to notice huge growth is in the horror film festival circuit. You want to see new horror on the big screen? It's going to be at a festival and chances are there's a festival going on near you. (in fact, you can check our list of festivals here) I think the festivals are going to end up being like rock concerts for horror fans. New horror festivals are popping up all the time (please tell me if I'm missing any from my list) and attendance has never been higher. What's going to happen is, much like underground music, films will get a buzz and tour city to city on festival circuits until the big players hear about them. Then, with any luck for the filmmakers, some will get picked up by major studios for a theatrical release... after the studios make a few cuts and edits so they're rated PG-13 and can reach that bigger audience.

Friday, January 11, 2008

At least one positive out of the WGA strike

As I discussed on a previous post, there will be a few benefits coming out of the fact that the writers are on strike. Independent filmmakers and writers will have a window to get the ears of agents and other people in the industry, the spotlight would be turned on to people who've used the web, successfully, to get their ideas and projects out there and make money and, finally, some shows that may have been turned down or deemed "not quite ready for prime time" by the major studios may finally get their day in the sun. "Dexter" is one of those shows... and it couldn't happen to a better show.

"Dexter" is based on the novel, "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" by Jeff Lindsay and it premiered on Showtime in October, 2006. It stars Michael C. Hall from "Six Feet Under" as Dexter Morgan, a blood pattern analyst from the Miami Metro Police Department, who also happens to be a serial killer. It has had huge critical acclaim, it's won various awards, it has a dedicated, loyal fan base... trust me, it's a helluva show. I don't want to give too much away about it, as there may be a lot of people being exposed to it now for the first time, but if you haven't seen it, you really need to check it out to see how good TV can be... All the episodes will have to be edited for content, but that shouldn't stop you from tuning in. "Dexter" will start airing on CBS on Sunday, February 17th.

Here's a link to the announcement that "Dexter" will be airing on CBS from Showtime's site.
Here's a link to the official Dexter site.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Butchers Hill" teaser trailer...

I got an email a few days ago from Jason Noto, one of the filmmakers involved in "Butchers Hill", an indie horror that's currently in development. Here's the link to their teaser site and I have to say, the artwork is pretty damn cool and the trailer looks amazing. To make it, they shot a 10 minute short, based on the opening to the feature, then cut the teaser from that. Check it out, it does look good...

This is almost the exact same route that James Wan took with the original "Saw" film and look what it did for them. If you haven't seen the original 10 minute film that Wan made, check it out here. James Wan and Leigh Whannel were originally going to make "Saw" on an ultra-low budget, instead they dumped all that money into making that 10 minute teaser. They shipped the teaser around with their proposal and feature length script then, subsequently, a lot of people passed on it... until it came across the desk of Gregg Hoffman. (I think it's Gregg Hoffman, I'm not sure... either way, the story's accurate) He gave it a budget of $1.2 Million and it was filmed in only 18 days. It was first shown at Sundance in 2004, then went on to gross $55 Million in the U.S., $102 Million worldwide... and it spawned 3 over-produced, money making sequels and everyone's making big-time dough. A true Hollywood success story!

If you can afford to put together a great looking trailer, it really can make your proposal. Writing an awesome script and shopping it around is one thing, but being able to actually see part of it adds a whole new layer. Investors, venture capitalists and financiers tend NOT to be filmmakers and, therefore, they aren't that creative and probably won't be able to 'see' your vision through written words alone. Having a teaser or something visual will not only make the idea jump off the page, it will help them see your vision.

**By the way, I should mention, if you're an indie filmmaker with a film in any stage of production, let me know about it. I like seeing what's going on out there and chances are I'll mention it on the site...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Horror DVD's out today - Jan 8, 2008

It's been too long since there was this much stuff to write about... My favorite cover art of the week has to be for "Slaughtered", it's to your left there. However, there's lots of decent movies out, you'll have plenty of schlock to pick from this week.

"Boogeyman 2" doesn't really have much to do with the first "Boogeyman", except for the fact that they're both produced by Sam Raimi's 'Ghost House Pictures'. This installment is directed by Jeff Betancourt and it's his directorial debut. He's been the editor on a whole bunch of horror films, including: "The Grudge", "The Exorcism of Emily Rose", "When a Stranger Calls" and the ever-so-scary, "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle". Editors actually tend to make good directors, as they usually have a great idea of what they need for coverage. I believe there's an infamous story where Verna Fields, the editor of "Jaws", came on to the set and sat Spielberg down after getting the first bunch of dailies and told him how to get proper coverage. In any case, editors can make good directors. "Boogeyman 2" stars Renee O'Connor of "Xena: Warrior Princess" fame, as well as Jigsaw himself, Tobin Bell. The plot is about a young girl, Laura, played by "Heroe's" Danielle Savre, who checks herself into a mental health facility due to her overwhelming fear of the Boogeyman... guts, boobs and violence follow.

On the surface, "Joshua" seems a lot like "The Omen", but once you get past the blurb on the back of the box, you instantly notice the differences. "Joshua" is one of those indie horror films that pleases the festival crowd and lets them get on their soapbox and slag "typical, dumb gore flicks". Now, I am a "typical, dumb gore flick" fan, but I'll make room in my film diet for this movie. "Joshua" stars indie darlings, Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga, both award winning actors. The movie is also award winning; winning best feature at the Gen Art Film Festival, best actor and special mention at the Sitges-Catalonian International Film Festival and the cinematography award and grand jury prize at Sundance. It's directed by George Ratliff, who's won various awards for his other films. It's about an eccentric boy whose proper upbringing and refined tastes both take a sinister turn after the birth of his new sister.

Don't get fooled by the serious looking cover art for "Days of Darkness", it's your typical straight to DVD zombie flick: bad humor, cheesy effects, shameless nudity and all... Brought to you by Lionsgate, "Days of Darkness" is directed by Jake Kennedy and stars a bunch of people who've had bit roles in TV shows. A fairly original plot, it's about a comet that hits earth and unleashes a virus that turn people into zombies...

"The Killing Floor" is a low-budget thriller, directed by Gideon Raff which premiered at the Malibu Film Festival last year. It's Raff's first feature film, the reviews are really good and the North American rights were quickly swept up by THINKFilm after the festival. The plot surrounds a hot shot literary agent that moves into a penthouse suite, then starts to receive crime scene photographs that seem to have taken place in his new apartment. Next, he receives a series of stalker videotapes that document his every move. It's more suspenseful than it is gory, but it's definitely worth a watch.

Now, if low-budget crap is your thing, Brain Damage Films is releasing "Slaughtered", written and directed by Anthony Doublin. Doublin's actually an award winning make-up and special effects guy and it looks like this is his first attempt at directing. The cover art is awesome, but don't expect much more than a lot of boobs and cheap gore. "Slaughtered" is about a guy who hires young girls off the internet to torture and murder them for his snuff flicks... then he's haunted by the ghosts of his victims, which plunges him deep into madness. Rated R for superfulous nudity.

"The Expedition" looks like a "Blair Witch" rip-off, but this one's based on a TRUE story... five Canadian filmmakers set out on a supernatural expedition to film a documentary on the Saratogo Homestead Asylum. Only four of the member exited the building the next morning. New Blood Entertainment has compiled and edited all the actual footage with re-enacted sequences to reveal, in detail, what occured that night... for your viewing pleasure.

"Scarred" is a UK import by writer, director Steve Looker. It's about a guy you makes a weekly trip up to the site of his daughters dissappearance to put up her poster. There he runs into some other guy, who's all bloodied up. On their travels, the bloody guy starts telling the other guy about the sick game they were forced to play at a hut in the middle of the woods... but the horror is just about to begin.

"The Veil" is another zombie movie based around the idea of a virus. Nigel Buckland from Vids Review says, "The Veil herald the future of horror... this is where it's at. The Veil packs more visceral punch than Cronenberg on Amphetamine suphate... see it." I haven't, but maybe I will...

"Visions of Suffering" is "filled with outrageous special effects, mind-numbing visuals", it's about demons that stalk a victim in his sleep that threaten to break into his conscious world. It's the latest film from director Andrey Iskanov.

If you can't get enough of the "Witchcraft" series, "Witchcraft 13: Blood of the Chosen" comes out...

"Maneater" stars Gary Busy and a 600 lbs, 12 ft long Bengal tiger and is the third installment in the Genius-branded "Maneater Series".

Last, but not least... don't forget about the all-time classic, Frank Henenlotter's "Frankenhooker" about a medical dropout who tries to bring his fiance, who died in a tragic lawnmower accident, back to life by putting her back together with parts from dead hookers.

Available on DVD Jan 8, 2007

David Lynch hates iPhone

Award winning, cult director of "Blue Velvet", "Lost Highway", "Dune" and many other great flicks, David Lynch... on watching movies on the iPhone.

The iPhone, as well as other mobile devices, offer some great marketing opportunities to get people in the theaters, as well as an alternate way to watch clips and consume other kinds of media, but I agree... it's no way to watch a feature length film. No f'ing way at all.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Countdown to "Cloverfield"

Fresh off the heels of writing a post about bad marketing, let's talk about brilliant marketing. Really, I have no idea if "Cloverfield" is going to be good or bad, but right now I don't care. The marketing behind it is creating huge buzz, I'm eating it up and I'll be one of the first guys in line to see it when it comes out on Jan 18.

I'm noticing that the studios are getting more into viral marketing and ways to engage the audience before their films hit the theatres. Good, complex marketing schemes that get people talking and gets the net all abuzz are, very simply, effective. They make people scour the internet, they make people ask around about the film and, most importantly, they get people in the seats. "The Dark Knight" is another example of some great viral marketing, but I won't get into that because I just talked about it in my last post... The brain behind "Cloverfield" is JJ Abrams and, if you didn't know, he's also the brain behind "Lost". So, he's no stranger to creating viral campaigns that create buzz. In fact, he's one of the pioneers, as far as I'm concerned.

To sum it up, when the "Cloverfield" teaser first screened before "Transformers" , they didn't show a title or anything, just the release date. Things have been slowly "leaked" over the last few months and it's all culminating right now, less than two weeks before it hits the screens. They still haven't even officially shown what the monster looks like, although I read an article this morning that thinks they figured it out, here's the link. Also, see below for the three clips that mysteriously ended up on youtube. I could rant on and on about all the other small stuff that they're doing, but this guy has an entire blog dedicated to it - here's the Link.

11 days to go...

Friday, January 4, 2008

A lesson or two in movie marketing

I may very well be the only guy on the planet who's in to both marketing and horror movies and, therefore, I'm probably the only person who had this cross their mind, but... there's two big-budget Hollywood horror films coming out over the next week or so, there's "One Missed Call", which is about people receiving a call on their cell phone to warn them of their impending death, as well as "Untraceable", which has hits to an internet site speeding up the deaths of victims. So, one about cell phones, the other about the internet, however Warner Brothers isn't doing any really cool mobile marketing campaign around "One Missed Call" and Sony Pictures didn't really doing anything earth shattering on the web. "One Missed Call" is giving away some iPhones and you can download a ringtone, but... come on, you can do better than that. Their sites are good, but pretty standard for today, here they are: "One Missed Call" and "Untraceable". I get this visual of the executives, including the marketing team, sitting around the boardroom, "all of our data and research says that our target demographic owns cell phones, uses cell phones and gets cell phones. They are so hot right now, this is a great idea for a film" Then, they never bother to think about doing a decent mobile campaign around it.

Check out this marketing campaign for the Showtime series, "Dexter". I'm not going to say it's a simple campaign, as there's a lot involved in putting something like this together, but it was hugely successful. It was one of the most talked about viral campaigns of the year and it was really effective and drew a lot of attention to the show. Now, if "One Missed Call" is about people receiving voice-mails from their future selves -- messages which include the date, time, and some of the details of their deaths, why didn't they do a mobile campaign that did just that? A simple way would be to do it through texting (even though an even better way would be through voicemails). For example, you could go to a site, put in your friends name, cell number, make up details of their death, then push enter. Friend receives the text, freaks out and goes to the URL at the bottom of the text and they're then pushed to a website that promotes the film and asks them if they'd like to scare one of their other friends and THEN you could do the whole enter to win an iPhone thing. Viola, a viral campaign and you're building awareness. Simple, easy and effective.

How about "Untraceable"? The killer in the movie is an untraceable serial killer who posts live videos of his victims on the Internet, the more hits the site gets, the quicker the victim dies. Am I the only one who expected to find a fake site that did just that? How hard would that be? People do it all the time. It had nothing to do with movies, let alone horror, but did anyone see the viral ad for Diesel, "We Hijacked Diesel"? Here's a link to the youtube clip. Completely fake, but it was effective and it got some serious traffic. All Sony Pictures would need to do is put up a website with a fake webcam showing a guy strung up, just like he would've been in the movie. Then a message could flash across the screen, "you are visitor number 2,345, this victim will die when this counter hits 3,000"... or something like that. You think people will check back to find out what's going on or, at absolute least, start telling people about what they saw? (they could even log if it's a return viewer, then if it is, they can show the person dead, but I digress) Best case scenario would be that police are called, newspapers start talking about it, somebody gets in trouble for it, the studio says they're innocent and the film gets a ton of buzz. It was almost a decade ago, but all the makers of "Blair Witch" did was post a few fake websites and stories - simple then, even easier now... and "Blair Witch" went on to rake in piles of dough.

I really have no idea why they didn't execute the marketing campaigns that I outlined above, maybe there's something I'm missing. Maybe they did research and they thought they wouldn't work. Maybe they thought they'd get in trouble. Maybe my ideas suck, I don't know. However, I do know that people need to get creative when it comes to promoting their films because it is such a fragmented market with a lot of choices. Just giving away stuff isn't really cutting it any more, it's expected. Have you seen what "The Dark Knight" is doing? Read this post from for an idea. Marketing is easily one of the most important things for any film and that goes for the Hollywood heavyweights all the way down to the micro-cinema, shot on DV films... in fact, it's especially important for the micro-cinema, shot on DV films.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

"Teeth" explores 'vagina dentata', which is, of course, latin for... 'toothed vagina'

The reviews are in... Geoffrey Gilmore of the Sundace Film Festival said that "Independent filmmaking is at its most exceptional when it defies categorization, and "Teeth" is jaw-droppingly undefinable". Cinematical critic Scott Weinberg wrote, "Teeth is precisely the sort of genre movie that we need to see more of." Adrienne Shelly Foundation artistic director Mystelle Brabbee declared it "one of the most talked about films at Sundace Film Festival this year". The winner of the special jury prize, nominated for the grand jury prize at Sundance... "Teeth" is about a vagina that eats people.

"Teeth" is the first feature film written and directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein, who's probably best known for his acting roles in "Streamers" and "The Wedding Banquet", but he's now working on a couple of other projects, neither of which are horror or have anything to do with flesh eating female genitalia. "Teeth" stars Jess Weixler in the lead role as 'Dawn', who I actually remember from an episode of "Law and Order", but she looks awfully familiar and I can't place where else she's from... anyone? Also in "Teeth" are John Hensley from "Nip/Tuck", Josh Pais, who you'll recognize from a few other things and Hale Appleman, who's really done nothing else of note, but he's only 20 or so. It premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and Lionsgate and The Weinstein's picked it up for release some time this year.

I haven't seen "Teeth", but I am looking forward to it. I'm being purely speculative here, but I'm assuming they mustered up a bit of a story to go along with the man-eating muff. Without a decent story, this isn't screening at Sundance to decent reviews, it would be co-starring Toxie and have an introduction by Lloyd Kaufman. (no insult intended) So, this proves a couple of things... first off, when films about a literal interpretation of vagina dentata are being green-lit, there's no shortage of ideas for films out there. Secondly, whatever you do write about, make it a good story. Story really will get you everywhere... You can film something any way you want, you can write about whatever you want, but it all needs to be based around a good, well-written story. After that, you can put in as many blood thirsty bearded clams in it as you want... within reason, of course.

Trailer for "Teeth"...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New horror out on DVD this week... and a bit of a rant.

There's only two horror releases this week: there's the big, box-office juggernaut, "Resident Evil: Extinction" and "Solstice", from Daniel Myrick, one of the directors of "The Blair Witch Project".

Daniel Myrick didn't do much after "Blair Witch" came out. In fact, wasn't there an urban legend that he just took the millions he made off "Blair Witch" and said 'F it, I'm out!', then spent the next few years in a stupor? Either that's what he did... or what everyone else would've done. Either way, after a "break" from making movies, he's been busy with straight to DVD releases since 2006, including: "The Strand", "Believers", "The Objective" and, the DVD being released today, "Solstice". A side note, the other director of "Blair Witch", Eduardo Sanchez, had a similar "break" from making movies, then came out with "Altered" in 2006, the straight to DVD film about the group of hicks who abduct the same alien that abducted them fifteen years earlier... and it wasn't that bad. Maybe it was Eduardo that spent that decade in a stupor? Seriously, what were they doing for almost 10 years? Regardless, Myrick managed to recruit a few decent B (maybe C) listers, such as Shawn Ashmore from "X-Men", Hilarie Burton from "One Tree Hill" and, none other than R. Lee Ermey, from the new "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" series and "Full Metal Jacket". "Solstice" takes place less than a year after Megan lost her twin sister to suicide and her and her college-bound friends take one last road trip to the family home out on the Louisiana bayou. That's where a handsome local teaches them the Creole spell of the summer solstice, they try to resurrect the sister's spirit, deadly results follow.

Then, there's "Resident Evil: Extinction", the third film based on the hugely successful video game franchise. It was written and produced by Paul W.S. Anderson, the guy who wrote and directed the first one, then wrote and produced the second one. Anderson's the guy behind the "Mortal Kombat" movies, as well as the "AVP" movies. This genre is sort of his "thing". It was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who's done lots of TV and music video's... and "Highlander", "Highlander II: The Quickening" and "Ricochet", check out his imdb listing, he's all over the map. In any case, I'm betting that most of you have probably seen "Resident Evil: Extinction", if not... it's exactly what you'd expect. Milla Jovovich showing off her acting "ability" as she's wearing next to nothing, while saying next to nothing... there's zombie's, deaths, explosions, bio-organic weapons... you know, the usual. What's really impressive, though, is the marketing behind this beast. They pulled out all the stops. From a detailed online presence and massive advertising campaign, to mobile media and contests, they're milking this every step of the way. Check out the website, here, for starters. Let's be honest, "Resident Evil: Extinction" is not a classic, the whole franchise bundled together isn't anything special, but Sony Pictures could fart out a fourth film and have it break $100 Million (combining domestic and international, of course). The reason being, "Resident Evil" is a franchise and they know exactly how to exploit that. Franchise's are what Hollywood is looking for because they're the easiest way for them to make money, not necessarily now... but in the years to come. (I may have to go into further depth on this in another post, but for now, trust me). So, if you're going to pick this movie up, take a good look at all the marketing surrounding it. If they did a good job on one thing, it's the marketing campaign. Now, low-budget filmmakers aren't going to be able to compete when it comes to mass media advertising, such as TV, outdoor advertising, radio, etc... but where you can compete is online. So many low-budget filmmakers just stop once they've finished post-production and think, what now? What now? Market it, get the word out. I've seen some great websites developed for low-budget films and, come one, almost everyone has a skinny, pastey friend who will make a decent site for a couple of 7-11 hotdogs and a case of Bud. With a little creativity, you can create some serious buzz... you may not make $150 Million at the box office, but maybe enough to make another movie.

Wow, that was a long rambling post for just two DVD releases... anyhow, here they are: