Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Archive for December, 2011

Neil Marshall – Hellfest

The next movie by Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday, Centurion) will be a horror film with a pretty classic setup. It goes by the name Hellfest, and the director is in early talks to make it his next project, with a summer 2012 shoot looking likely if all the assorted deals work out.

The script, by William Penick and Chris Sey, is about “a costumed killer who systematically slaughters the unsuspecting visitors who come to a theme park on Halloween night.” Or, as previous reports said, “a Halloween night of fun turns deadly at America’s premier theme park when an actual costumed killer begins slaying unsuspecting patrons who believe it’s all part of the show.”

The writers, and CBS films have been developing the Hellfest script since this summer, when Gale Anne Hurd through her Valhalla Entertainment banner, was announced as producer at Comic Con. The hope is to launch a horror franchise. Marshall is currently in post production on Blackwater, an episode in the second season of HBO’s Game of Thrones.


Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes

Hot on the heels of BOOM!’s sold out, best selling PLANET OF THE APES ongoing series comes a brand new four issue mini series co-written and drawn by Gabriel Hardman. Best known for his series-defining work on HULK and AGENTS OF ATLAS and his storyboard work on hit films such as Christopher Nolan’s mega hit INCEPTION, Hardman and writer Corinna Sara Bechko (HEATHENTOWN, FEAR ITSELF: THE HOME FRONT) bring you another ape story: PLANET OF THE APES: BETRAYAL! Taking place during the continuity of the original seminal fan-favorite film, the feared and respected General Aleron finds himself at the center of a conspiracy that could transform ape/human relations! Aleron’s journey puts him face to face with…Dr. Zaius! A not-to-be-missed mini-series with story and art that is sure to make you go…ape!


John Milton – Paradise Lost

John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, an anti-censorship campaigner and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem ‘Paradise Lost’. 

Milton wrote in Latin, Italian and English, and had an international reputation during his lifetime. His poetry and prose reflect deep convictions and addressed urgent, contemporary issues (for example, his celebrated ‘Areopagitica’ is written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship).

Milton’s poetry was slow to see the light of day, at least under his name. His first published poem was On Shakespear (1630), anonymously included in the Second Folio edition of Shakespeare. In the midst of the excitement attending the possibility of establishing a new English government, Milton collected his work in 1645 Poems. The anonymous edition of Comus was published in 1637, and the publication of Lycidas in 1638 in Justa Edouardo King Naufrago was signed J. M. Otherwise the 1645 collection was the only poetry of his to see print, until ‘Paradise Lost’ appeared in 1667.

Milton’s magnum opus, the blank-verse epic poem ‘Paradise Lost’, was composed by the blind and impoverished Milton from 1658 to 1664 (first edition) with small but significant revisions published in 1674 (second edition). As a blind poet, Milton dictated his verse to a series of aides in his employ. It reflects his personal despair at the failure of the Revolution, yet affirms an ultimate optimism in human potential. Milton encoded many references to his unyielding support for the “Good Old Cause”.

Milton followed up Paradise Lost with its sequel, ‘Paradise Regained’, published alongside the tragedy ‘Samson Agonistes’, in 1671. Both these works also resonate with Milton’s post-Restoration political situation. Just before his death in 1674, Milton supervised a second edition of Paradise Lost, accompanied by an explanation of “why the poem rhymes not” and prefatory verses by Marvell. Milton republished his 1645 Poems in 1673, as well a collection of his letters and the Latin prolusions from his Cambridge days. A 1668 edition of Paradise Lost, reported to have been Milton’s personal copy, is now housed in the archives of the University of Western Ontario. 

After his death, his critical reception oscillated, a state of affairs that continued through the centuries. Samuel Johnson praised Paradise Lost “a poem which, considered with respect to design may claim the first place, and with respect to performance, the second, among the productions of the human mind”. (Though Johnson, being a committed Tory, and recipient of royal patronage, called Milton’s politics those of an “acrimonious and surly republican”.) William Hayley’s 1796 biography called him the “greatest English author”. He remains generally regarded “as one of the preeminent writers in the English language and as a thinker of world importance.”


Jane Goldman – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Screenwriter Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn are expected to return for the sequel to X-Men: First Class, Goldman is in talks with 20th Century Fox on another priority project with a major director. She’ll adapt Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, the Ransom Riggs novel that Chernin Entertainment  is producing, and Tim Burton is rumoured to direct.

Goldman has an impressive track record, she has scripted ‘Stardust’ (2007), ‘Kick-Ass’ (2010) and ‘X-Men: First Class’ (2011) for director Matthew Vaughn, ‘The Debt’ (2010) and most recently adapted The Woman In Black, the new thriller that stars Daniel Radcliffe.

In Miss Peregine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Jacob is a 16-year-old whose childhood was filled with stories  his grandfather told him about an orphanage for unusual children. Among  the residents: a girl who could hold fire in her hands, another whose  feet never touched the ground, and twins who communicated without  speaking. When his beloved grandfather dies unexpectedly but leaves a  message behind for his grandson, the teen heads off to his grandfather’s  home on an isolated island off Wales. There he discovers the abandoned  remains of Miss Peregrine’s  Home for Peculiar Children. It is in great  disrepair and as Jacob explores its bedrooms and  hallways, he can see  the children were more than peculiar, they might  have been there  because they were dangerous. And he can’t shake the feeling they are  still lurking around.


Rick Baker

Richard A. “Rick” Baker (born December 8, 1950) is an American special make-up effects artist known for his realistic creature effects. Baker was born in Binghamton, New York, the son of Doris and Ralph B. Baker, a professional artist.

As a teen, Baker began creating artificial body parts in his own kitchen. He also appeared briefly in the “lost” classic fan production “The Night Turkey” a one hour B&W video parody of “The Night Stalker” (winner of the Best Short Film award at an early San Diego Comic-Con) directed by William Malone (who went on to direct feature films like the science fiction thriller Creature) and included in its cast Bill Mills and Robert Short (a fellow special makeup artist who also went on to win an Academy Award for his work in Beetlejuice).

Baker’s first professional job was as an assistant to the legendary Dick Smith on the film ‘The Exorcist’. He received the inaugural Academy Award for Best Makeup for his peerless work on ‘An American Werewolf in London’. He also created the “werecat” creature Michael Jackson transforms into in the music video ‘Thriller’. Subsequently, Baker has been nominated for the Best Makeup Oscar ten more times, winning on seven occasions, both records in his field. Baker claims that his work on ‘Harry and the Hendersons’ is one of his proudest achievements.

On 3 October 2009 he received the Jack Pierce – Lifetime Achievement Award title of the Chiller-Eyegore Awards. Known for his love of lyBaker most recently created the special makeup effects for the 2010 film ‘The Wolfman’ for which he also won an Academy Award in 2011.

Baker played the title role in the 1976 remake of ‘King Kong’. He also had cameos as the pilot and gunner (with director Peter Jackson) who shot down Kong in the 2005 remake of ‘King Kong’ and as a drug dealer with a business card in the John Landis film ‘Into the Night’. He also made a cameo appearance in the aforementioned Michael Jackson music video ‘Thriller’ as one of the zombies. He also makes a cameo in ‘The Wolfman’ as The Wolfman’s first kill. He would eventually win the Oscar for his work with the film’s makeup.

Baker also contributes commentaries to Joe Dante’s web series Trailers From Hell for trailers about horror and science fiction films. He was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Academy of Art University in 2008.


Georges Méliès

Georges Méliès (8 December 1861 – 21 January 1938), was a French filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest cinema. He was very innovative in the use of special effects. He accidentally discovered the stop-trick, or substitution, in 1896, and was one of the first filmmakers to use multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted color in his films. Because of his ability to seemingly manipulate and transform reality through cinematography, Méliès is sometimes referred to as the First “Cinemagician”.

He directed over 530 films between 1896 and 1914, ranging in length from one to forty minutes. In subject matter, these films are often similar to the magic theater shows that Méliès had been doing, containing “tricks” and impossible events, such as objects disappearing or changing size. These early special effects films were essentially devoid of plot. The special effects were used only to show what was possible, rather than enhance the overall film.

Méliès’s early films were mostly composed of single in-camera effects, used for the entirety of the film. For example, after experimenting with multiple exposure, Méliès created his film The One Man Band in which he played seven different characters simultaneously.

His most famous film is ‘A Trip to the Moon’ (Le voyage dans la Lune) made in 1902, which includes the celebrated scene in which a spaceship hits the eye of the man in the moon. Also famous is ‘The Impossible Voyage’ (Le voyage à travers l’impossible) from 1904. Both of these films are about strange voyages, somewhat in the style of Jules Verne.  These are considered to be some of the most important early science fiction films, although their approach is closer to fantasy. 

In addition, horror cinema can be traced back to Georges Méliès’s ‘Le Manoir du diable’ (1896). A print of the film was acquired by Thomas Edison, who then duplicated and distributed it in the United States, where it achieved financial success; however, Edison did not pay any revenues to Méliès.


West of Memphis – Documentary Complete

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (December 5, 2011) – WingNut Films proudly announced the completion of WEST OF MEMPHIS – a documentary film chronicling the untold story  behind one of the most infamous miscarriages of justice in American  history; the story of an extraordinary and desperate fight to stop the  State of Arkansas from killing an innocent man.

The film has been produced by first-time filmmakers Damien Echols and Lorri Davis, in collaboration with the Academy Award-winning team of Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Jackson and Walsh became involved in 2005, when they helped to re-invigorate the then stagnant case by funding a new investigation. The film has been written and directed by Academy Award-nominated  filmmaker, Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil).

Starting  with a searing examination of the police investigation into the 1993  murders of three eight-year-old boys – Christopher Byers, Steven Branch and Michael Moore in the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas, the film goes on to reveal hitherto unknown evidence surrounding the arrest and conviction of the other three victims of this shocking crime – Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr.; all three of whom were teenagers at the time of their arrests and all three of whom spent 18 years and 17 days in prison for crimes they did not commit.

How the documentary came in to being is in itself a key part of the story of Damien Echols’ fight to save his own life; it reveals how close he and his wife Lorri Davis, along with his legal team, friends and supporters, came to losing that battle.

As Echols has stated: “September 2008 was one of my lowest points. Judge David Burnett had refused to hear any new evidence – this included new DNA testing… as if proof of our innocence was somehow irrelevant.  I thought we had come to the end of the line, that there was nowhere else to go. It was at this point that Fran and Peter suggested that maybe there was another way of fighting back…  that if the evidence was not going to be allowed to be heard in a court of law, it would be heard in another forum. That was when they said to  me and Lorri, ‘We should make a film’.”

WEST OF MEMPHIS reveals the exhaustive research that uncovered startling new findings pointing to the innocence of Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley Jr. and includes new forensic evidence that  points to other suspects that the West Memphis police chose to overlook. It was this new evidence as highlighted in the documentary that ultimately prompted the Arkansas Supreme Court to overturn previous denials of appeals and allowed for a new evidentiary hearing to proceed.

Faced  with the very real prospect of a new trial being granted and in order to avoid potentially large compensation claims for wrongful  imprisonment, the State of Arkansas struck a deal with the West Memphis Three, as Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley Jr. had come to be known, whereby the men agreed to enter an Alford plea; an unusual and rarely used legal maneuver through which the defendant is able to assert  their innocence whilst accepting it is in their best interest to allow a guilty plea to be entered against them, in exchange for their freedom. The film follows these events and examines how the State Prosecutor’s declaration that the case is now closed, leaves three innocent men convicted of a crime they did not  commit and a triple child murderer still at large.

Director Berg says, “This film represents the trial these men didn’t have. With the support of Damien and Lorri, along with unprecedented access to those closest to the case, we were able to make a film that shows the inner workings of the defense – the investigation, research, and appeals process, in a way that has never been shown before. This film began as a study about innocence; but I feel it goes beyond that now – it asks the  question, what value do we, as a  society, place on the truth?”

Says Jackson, “Seven years ago, Fran and I began this journey with Damien and Lorri, having no idea where it would lead. We now realise,  that journey is not over, that even though these men have been released from prison – they are not free. Our hope is that continuing evidence testing and further investigation will lead to the unmasking of the killer of these children and that one  day Damien, Jason and Jessie will be exonerated.”

In addition to never before seen footage about the case and the trial, WEST OF MEMPHIS includes interviews with Echols, Davis, Baldwin,  Misskelley Jr. and Jackson as well as interviews with friends and families of the victims, defense lawyers, state prosecutors, local law enforcement, judges, forensic experts, journalists, surprise witnesses and prominent  supporters including Eddie Vedder, Henry Rollins and Natalie  Maines.

Original music for the film has been written by acclaimed songwriters and composers Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

The film has been Executive Produced by Ken Kamins who will be leading discussions with potential distributors.


The Cabin in the Woods – Trailer

The Cabin in the Woods is finally getting a release. The film, directed by Drew Goddard who co-wrote with Joss Whedon, has had a protracted journey to the big screen. Originally shot film in early 2009 with a pre-fame Chris Hemsworth in the lead, and a cast that includes Jesse Williams, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, and Richard Jenkins. MGM then delayed the movie to convert it to 3D, and then the film dropped off the radar thanks to the company’s bankruptcy.

Now Lionsgate have picked it up and issued a cool trailer. The trailer seems to show almost too much, however it looks intriging and is something I’m now looking forward too…

The film revolves around five college-type characters who head to a cabin in the woods and are given clear and clever instructions by “white collar” characters. Once the “victims” arrive at the cabin, it becomes clear that the plan is to lure the kids there to have them break the given instructions so that they might then be “punished.”


The Cabin in the Woods – Teaser Poster

Cool teaser poster for the forthcoming Drew Goddard mindf**k, The Cabin in the Woods…

and a couple of piss-taking mock-ups of the orignal from last year.


Unholy Night

Deadline reports that Warner Bros has made a whopping deal to acquire screen rights to Unholy Night, the new novel by Seth Grahame-Smith. Grahame-Smith will write the script, and he and KatzSmith partner David Katzenberg will produce with Heyday Films’ David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford. The deal is in the vicinity of $2 million upfront for the rights to the book and for Grahame-Smith to adapt it. The studio got first look at the book, as both KatzSmith and Heyday are based at Warner Bros. That is where Heyman produced the Harry Potter film series and where Grahame-Smith scripted the Tim Burton-directed Dark Shadows. Unholy Night, an action/adventure surrounding the Three Wise Men of the Nativity, will be published in April by Grand Central.

Setting up a film based around the birth of Jesus Christ gives Warner Bros its third high-profile movie based on a seminal religious story. The studio has been discussing the possibility of Steven Spielberg directing Gods And Kings, an epic-sized film about the life of Moses scripted by Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine. And Warner Bros recently set up a project being scripted by Joe Eszterhas and Mel Gibson (who has first option to direct) about the heroic story of Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee, who teamed with his father and four brothers to lead the Jewish revolt against the Greek-Syrian armies that had conquered Judea in the second century B.C. Maccabee’s triumph and struggle against tyranny and oppression where people gave their lives so that others would be free to worship is celebrated by Jews all over the world through Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.

Grahame-Smith’s previous novels include Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Pride And Prejudice And Zombies. Grahame-Smith adapted the Lincoln project, which Timur Bekmambetov directed for 20th Century Fox.


Noel Clarke

Noel Anthony Clarke (born 6 December 1975) is an English actor, director and screenwriter from London. He is best known for playing Wyman Norris in the classic TV series ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’ and Mickey Smith in ‘Doctor Who’. Clarke appeared in and wrote the screenplay for ‘Kidulthood’ and wrote, directed and starred in the sequel, ‘Adulthood’, which gained £1,209,319 from the opening weekend of its release. Clarke studied Media at the University of North London before going on to take acting classes at London’s Actors Centre. He has also acted on the stage, and won the Laurence Olivier Award for “Most Promising Newcomer” in 2003 for his performance in the play Where Do We Live at the Royal Court Theatre.

Kidulthood (rendered as KiDULTHOOD) is a 2006 British drama about the life of several teenagers in the Ladbroke Grove and Latimer Road area of inner west London. It was directed by Menhaj Huda and written by Noel Clarke who also stars in the film. The characters in the film generally behave in a violent, lawless manner and are reckless and antisocial, with petty theft, serious violence, and drug taking endemic in the culture portrayed. It helped to kick off the new age cinema of Britains inner city youth, without it we wouldn’t have had the likes of Cherry Tree Lane and Attack the Block.

On directing his first film, Clarke described his experience, “Directing for the first time was definitely a challenge and tiring at times. It was a steep learning curve and if you’re willing to do stuff and go with it, then it pays off.”

In 2009, Clarke starred in two films of differing quality, ‘Heartless’ and ‘Doghouse‘; the former, Heartless is a British horror film directed by Philip Ridley and starring Jim Sturgess, Noel Clarke and Eddie Marsan. Dark and moody, the film is a rarity in the horror genre of late, as it’s original, creepy and well made. Doghouse, however, isn’t… The film is about a group of young men who travel to a remote village in England for a ‘boys’ weekend’. Upon their arrival, they found out that all the women in the town had been transformed into some kind of man-eating (literally so) cannibals.

He also participated in Neil Marshall’s film ‘Centurion’, a 2010 British action thriller film, loosely based on the supposed disappearance of the Roman Ninth Legion in Caledonia in the second century CE. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko and Dominic West.

In 2009, Clarke was awarded a BAFTA in the category of ‘Orange Rising Star Award’. Clarke has also worked with BBC Blast, a project for teenagers that aims to inspire and get people being creative. Shortly after his BAFTA win he gave a talk to inspire young people telling them to “broaden your mind”.

His latest projects were, ‘4, 3, 2, 1’ a heist movie, was released on 2 June 2010 starring Tamsin Egerton, Emma Roberts and Adam Deacon; and ‘Screwed’ a prison drama.


Fritz Lang

Friedrich Christian Anton “Fritz” Lang (December 5, 1890 – August 2, 1976) was an Austrian-American film director, screenwriter and occasional producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany’s school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the “Master of Darkness” by the British Film Institute. His most famous films are the groundbreaking ‘Metropolis’ and ‘M’, made before he moved to the United States, his iconic precursor to the film noir genre.

At the outbreak of World War 1, Lang volunteered for military service in the Austrian army and fought in Russia and Romania, where he was wounded three times. While recovering from his injuries in 1916, he wrote some scenarios and ideas for films. He was discharged from the army with the rank of lieutenant in 1918 and did some acting in the Viennese theater circuit for a short time before being hired as a writer at Decla, Erich Pommer’s Berlin-based production company.

His writing stint was brief, as Lang soon started to work as a director at the German film studio Ufa, and later Nero-Film, just as the Expressionist movement was building. In this first phase of his career, Lang alternated between art films such as ‘Der Mude Tod’ (“The Weary Death”) and popular thrillers such as ‘Die Spinnen’ (“The Spiders”), combining popular genres with Expressionist techniques to create an unprecedented synthesis of popular entertainment with art cinema. In 1920, he met his future wife, the writer and actress Thea von Harbou. She and Lang co-wrote all of his movies from 1921 through 1933, including 1922’s ‘Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler’ (Dr. Mabuse the Gambler), which ran for over four hours in two parts in the original version and was the first in the Dr. Mabuse trilogy, the famed 1927 masterpiece ‘Metropolis’, and the 1931 classic, ‘M’, his first “talking” picture.

Lang produced a coherent oeuvre that helped to establish the characteristics of film noir, with its recurring themes of psychological conflict, paranoia, fate and moral ambiguity. His work influenced many filmmakers such as William Friedkin.

In 1931, after ‘Woman in the Moon’, Lang directed what many film scholars consider to be his masterpiece: ‘M’, a disturbing story of a child murderer (Peter Lorre in his first starring role) who is hunted down and brought to rough justice by Berlin’s criminal underworld. M remains a powerful work; it was remade in 1951 by Joseph Losey, but this version had little impact on audiences, and has become harder to see than the original film. Lang epitomized the stereotype of the tyrannical German film director and he was known for being hard to work with. During the climactic final scene in ‘M’, he allegedly threw Peter Lorre down a flight of stairs in order to give more authenticity to Lorre’s battered look.

At the end of 1932, as Lang started filming ‘The Testament of Dr. Mabuse’, Adolf Hitler came to power in January 1933, and by March 30, the new regime banned it as an incitement to public disorder. Whereas Lang was worried about the advent of the Nazi regime, partly because of his Jewish heritage, his wife Thea von Harbou had started to sympathize with the Nazis in the early 1930s and joined the NSDAP in 1932. They soon divorced. Lang’s fears would be realized following his departure from Austria, as under Nazi eugenics laws he would be identified as a Jew even though his mother was a converted Roman Catholic, and he was raised as such.

Upon his arrival in Hollywood in 1936, Lang joined the MGM studio and directed the crime drama ‘Fury’, starring Spencer Tracy as a man wrongly lynched for a crime he didn’t commit. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1939. Lang made twenty-one features in the next twenty-one years, working in a variety of genres at every major studio in Hollywood, occasionally producing his films as an independent. These films, often compared unfavorably by contemporary critics to Lang’s earlier works, have since been reevaluated as being integral to the emergence and evolution of American genre cinema, film noir in particular.

One of his most famous film noirs is the police drama ‘The Big Heat’ (1953), noted for its uncompromising brutality, especially for a scene in which Lee Marvin throws scalding coffee on Gloria Grahame’s face. During this period, his visual style simplified (owing in part to the constraints of the Hollywood studio system) and his worldview became increasingly pessimistic, culminating in the cold, geometric style of his last American films, ‘While the City Sleeps’ (1956) and ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’ (1957).

Lang found it harder to find work in Hollywood and his advancing age left him less inclined to grapple with American backers. The German producer, Artur Brauner, was expressing interest in remaking  ‘The Indian Tomb’ (a story that Lang had developed in the twenties that was ultimately taken from him by studio heads and directed instead by Joe May), so Lang abandoned his plans for retirement and returned to Germany in order to make his “Indian Epic”. Following the production, Brauner was ready to proceed with his remake of Das Testament des Doctor Mabuse when Lang approached him with the idea of adding another original film to the series. The result was ‘The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse’ (1960), made in a hurry and with a relatively small budget. It can be viewed as the marriage between the director’s early experiences with expressionist techniques in Germany as well as the spartan style already visible in his late American work. Lang was approaching blindness during the production, making it his final project.

While his career had ended without fanfare, his American and later German works were championed by the critics of the Cahiers du Cinema. Lang died in 1976 and was interred in the Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.


Boneshaker headed for the Big Screen

Cross Creek Pictures and Exclusive Media Group are teaming on a film adaptation of Cherie Priest’s period zombie novel Boneshaker.

Announced by the Hollywood Reporter. Published in 2009 by Tor Books and nominated for a 2010 Hugo Award for best novel – is set in an alternate version of 1880s Seattle. The city has been walled in and a toxic gas has transformed many of of the remaining residents into ‘Rotters,’ otherwise known as zombies. A young widow searching for her teenage son must deal with the Seattle underworld, airship pirates and heavily armed refugees.


Bryan Singer to direct The Munsters

NBC’s The Munsters will be brought to you by The Bryans. X-Men and Superman Returns helmer Bryan Singer is finalizing a deal to direct and executive produce Bryan Fuller’s reboot of the 1960s comedy, which recently received a pilot order by NBC. Universal Television is producing  the project, described as an imaginative reinvention of The Munsters as a visually spectacular one-hour drama. Singer, who had been interested in the project since before it got the greenlight by NBC two weeks ago, will executive produce with Fuller.

After originally developing The Munsters last season, Fuller redeveloped it with NBC’s new executive team this summer and delivered his new script at the beginning of this month. Like Fuller’s previous series, Pushing Daisies, The Munsters calls for striking visuals mixed with all the classic Munsters archetypes, and NBC had been looking for a top director to create the world of The Munsters circa 2011. The pilot for Fuller’s Pushing Daisies also was directed by a feature helmer, Barry Sonnenfeld, who earned an Emmy for his work. The first pilot Singer directed was House, and he continues to serve as an executive producer on the long-running Fox medical drama. Singer has since directed only one other pilot, ABC’s Football Wives, and he served as an executive producer on the ABC drama series Dirty Sexy Money. Singer most recently produced X-Men: First Class. As a director, he is in post-production on Jack the Giant Killer.


Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski; 3 December 1857 – 3 August 1924) was a Polish-born English novelist.

Conrad is regarded as one of the great novelists in English, although he did not speak the language fluently until he was in his twenties (and then always with a marked Polish accent). He wrote stories and novels, predominantly with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit by the demands of duty and honour. Conrad was a master prose stylist who brought a distinctly non-English tragic sensibility into English literature. While some of his works have a strain of romanticism, he is viewed as a precursor of modernist literature. His narrative style and anti-heroic characters have influenced many authors.

Writing in the heyday of the British Empire, Conrad drew upon his experiences in the French and later the Britich Merchant Navy to create short stories and novels that reflect aspects of a worldwide empire while also plumbing the depths of the human soul.

I’ve only actually read, Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim, I’ve intended to read the copy of Nostromo that’s on my bookshelf for the last 10 years but not managed yet… soon.

Heat of Darkness centres on Charles Marlow, who narrates most of the book. He is an Englishman who takes a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a river-boat captain in Africa. Heart of Darkness exposes the dark side of Belgian colonization while exploring the three levels of darkness that the protagonist, Marlow, encounters: the darkness of the Congo wilderness, the darkness of the Belgians’ cruel treatment of the African natives, and the unfathomable darkness within every human being for committing heinous acts of evil. Although Conrad does not give the name of the river, at the time of writing the Congo Free State, the location of the large and important Congo River, was a private colony of Belgium’s King Leopold II. In the story, Marlow is employed to transport ivory downriver. However, his more pressing assignment is to return Kurtz, another ivory trader, to civilization, in a cover-up. Kurtz has a reputation throughout the region.

This symbolic story is a story within a story or frame narrative. It follows Marlow as he recounts from dusk through to late night, to a group of men aboard a ship anchored in the Thames Estuary, his Congolese adventure. The passage of time and the darkening sky during the fictitious narrative-within-the-narrative parallel the atmosphere of the story.

A few films have been adapted from or inspired by Conrad’s novels and short stories: Victory, Lord Jim, The Secret Agent, An Outcast of the Islands, The Rover, The Shadow Line, The Duel, Heart of Darkness, Nostromo and Almeyer’s Folly. Of course the most famous adaptation of Heart of Darkness is Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 motion picture ‘Apocalypse Now’, which moves the story from the Congo to Vietnam and Cambodia during the Vietnam War. In Apocalypse Now, Martin Sheen plays Captain Benjamin Willard, a US Army officer charged with “terminating” the command of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando, it remains one of his most famous roles.


Penelope Spheeris

Penelope Spheeris (born December 2, 1945) is an American director, producer and writer. She is best known as a documentary film director whose works include the trilogy titled ‘The Decline of Western Civilisation’ and as the director of ‘Wayne’s World’, her highest grossing film.

Spheeris was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a Greek immigrant father who owned the Magic Empire Shows circus carnival and was a side-show strong man. Spheeris spent her first seven years traveling around the American South and Midwest with her father’s carnival. She majored in film and has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theater Arts from UCLA in Los Angeles, California.

Spheeris launched her career by producing short subjects for comedian Albert Brooks, many of them being highlights in the first season of the now legendary TV series ‘Saturday Night Live’. Her first feature film was ‘The Decline of Western Civilization’ (1981),  a punk rock documentary that she produced as well as directed. She followed up with ‘The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years’, this time about the infamous Los Angeles heavy metal scene of 1988, with footage and interviews of legendary metal bands such as Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Megadeth and Motorhead. She later returned to the streets of L.A. and the punk rock scene in 1998 for the documentary ‘The Decline of Western Civilization Part III’.

She was offered the chance to direct ‘This is Spinal Tap’ (1984), but turned it down, thinking it wasn’t possible to make fun of heavy metal..! She turned her attention to ‘Suburbia’, also known as Rebel Streets and The Wild Side; a 1984 film which she wrote and directed about a gang of suburban punks who run away from home and live a minimalist, punk lifestyle by squatting in abandoned suburban tract homes. The punks are played by Chris Pedersen, Bill Coyne, and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, amongst others.

With the exceptions of Bill Coyne , who was a professional actor, Spheeris recruited street kids and punk rock musicians, including a young Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, to play each role, rather than hire young actors to portray punk rockers.

She followed that up withThe Boys Next Door’ (1985), an independent drama about two aimless young men played by Charlie Sheen and Maxwell Caulfield (Grease 2), who embark on an orgy of sex, drugs, and murder.

In 1987 she made two movies, the under-rated Dudes, about two punks from the big city (John Cryer and Daniel Roebuck), traveling across the country in a Volkswagen bug, embrace the western ethos when they must take revenge against a group of rednecks for killing their friend (Flea) in this lighthearted road movie. Along the way, they enlist the help of a young woman who runs a wrecking service. ‘Summer Camp Nightmare’ is a 1987 horror film starring Chuck Connors and Charlie Stratton.

In addition to her film work, she worked as a writer for the TV series ‘Roseanne’ (1988-1997). In the 1990s, Spheeris directed her only huge box office hit, ‘Wayne’s World’, a comedy based on Mike Myer’s skits from Saturday Night Live. The movie grossed a then-massive $121 million. She directed the Wayne’s World music video work for Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” which earned a Grammy nomination. However, she had difficulty working with Myers, while acknowledging him as “profoundly talented,” and in an article in Entertainment Weekly, the article also stated she believes Myers dissuaded Paramount from hiring her for the sequel. 

In 1996 she returned to her music documentary roots and directed ‘We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n’ Roll’, a documentary about the Ozzfest, which was produced by Sharon Osbourne and explores life on the road for the travelling Heavy Metal festival.

Over the last 12+ years she’s been wasted making awful ‘comedies’ with the Wayons brothers and Tom Arnold, can someone please give her another gritty film to direct.


Chris Nolan & Tom Hardy talk BANE

Tom Hardy speaks for the first time about taking on masked villain Bane in the third Batman installment The Dark Knight Rises. And Christopher Nolan speaks for the first time about Hardy and Bane.

The duo gave the interview exclusively to UK’s Empire magazine for a special Batman/Bane edition.

Tom Hardy
On Bane: “He’s brutal, brutal. He’s expedient delivery of brutality. And you know, he’s a big dude. He’s a big dude who’s incredibly clinical, in the fact that he has a result-based and orientated fighting style. The result is clear. “Do you know what I mean? It’s: f**k off and die. Quicker. Quicker. Everything is thought out way before. He’s hit you, he’s already hit somebody else. It’s not about fighting. It’s just about carnage with Bane. He’s a smashing machine. He’s a wrecking ball. The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed, it’s nasty. Anything from small joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. It’s anything he can get away with. He is a terrorist in his mentality as well as brutal action. So he’s horrible. A really horrible piece of work.”

About filming the fight scenes: “It’s very overwhelming. When you’re training in a rehearsal room you go, ‘Okay, I have a contact with seven people. This guy I chin, this one I slip and I punch, this one I pick up and suplex, this guy I kick in the face, and this one, he stops a hammer with his head. And then I meet Batman.’ That’s all alright in a rehearsal room, but then you add 1,000 people that are all dressed the same as the seven you’re supposed to hit — ’cause they’re all police officers — and I don’t know where my police officers are. But the stuntmaster’s like, ‘Don’t worry. They will find you.’”

About Christian Bale’s Batman: “He looks really intimidating! There’s a three-year-old in me that’s going, ‘Oh my God that’s Batman! That’s Batman and he’s going to hit me! But I love Batman!’ Then I look in the mirror. And I hit him back. Twice as hard.”

Christopher Nolan
On Bane: “With Bane, we are looking to give Batman a physical challenge that he hasn’t had before,” says the film’s director, Christopher Nolan. “With our choice of villain and with our choice of story we’re testing Batman both physically as well as mentally. Also, in terms of finishing our story and increasing its scope, we were trying to craft an epic, so the physicality of the film became very important. Bane’s a very different kind of villain than Batman has faced before in our films. He’s a great sort of movie monster, but with an incredible brain, and that was a side of him that hadn’t been tapped before. Because the stories from the comics are very epic and very evocative — very much in the way that Bruce Wayne’s origin story is epic and evocative. We were looking to really parallel that with our choice of villain. So he is a worthy adversary. What Bane represents in the comics is the ultimate physical villain.”

About casting Tom Hardy in the role: “He has this incredible disjunct between the expressiveness of the voice and the stillness of the movement of his body. He’s found a way to play a character who is enormous and powerful with a sort of calm to it, but also is able to be incredibly fast at times. Unpredictable. He just has a raw threat to him that’s extraordinary. It’s a very powerful thing when you see it come together, beyond what I had ever imagined. That’s what you get from working with great actors.”


Ken Russell – R.I.P.

It was remiss of me to not post this three days ago… I only found out. R.I.P. Ken Russell.

Maverick British director Ken Russell died in his sleep Sunday at age 84. Russell’s controversial films included the Oliver Reed-Vanessa Redgrave starrer The Devils; Women In Love; and Tommy, the screen version of The Who’s rock opera. In the U.S., he directed the psychedelic Altered States, but his collaboration with equally strong-willed screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky haunted that film, and the failure of his next film, Crimes Of Passion, sent him back to the UK. There, he continued making films, the last of which was The Fall Of The Louse Of Usher.

Russell was a polarizing filmmaker, with critics often split on his films. His movies rarely achieved commercial success thanks to his unique takes on provocative themes that often included sex, drugs and violence. His 1971 film Women In Love, an adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence novel, was his only work to receive Academy Award consideration: it was nominated for four Oscars in 1971, including for best director, and won Best Actress for Glenda Jackson.


Attack the Block ***½

Set in an inner-city, south London housing estate, Attack the Block follows a gang of young hoodies who rob female nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker) at knifepoint in the opening scene. As the robbery appears to be taking a distasteful turn, the kids are distracted by an explosion something falls from the sky into a parked car. The nurse takes the opportunity to escape as gang leader Moses (John Boyega) goes to investigate; he is scratched across the face by an unseen creature that makes its escape through a local park. The gang chase the creature and proceed to kick it to death.

Heading home to their housing block to score some weed, they carry the alien carcass in the hope that it will be worth something to barter with… then the big aliens arrive.

Attack the Block is another entry into the tricky horror-comedy genre. It’s been compared to ‘Shaun of the Dead’ (probably because it’s British more than any other reason), which is misleading, it lacks that movies intelligence and humour. That’s not to say that Attack the Block isn’t fun, or smart, it is and along with ‘Tucker and Dale vs. Evil’ is one of the better entries into that difficult horror-comedy genre. Sharing more in common with early 80’s creature features like ‘Night of the Creeps’, ‘Monster Squad’ and John Carpenter’s siege classic ‘Assault on Precinct 13’, Attack the Block manages to bring the horror (in PG-13 doses) and add a few moments of laddish humour.

There have been a few people upset by the fact that the heroes are low-life hoodies, and that they don’t really go through much of a character arc and change or show that beneath the tough bravado they are just average kids. If the movie had done that it would have undone all the good work that writer-director Joe Cornish puts into his directorial debut. It’s not really about redemption or change; it’s about defending your turf and standing your ground against the odds. These kids will go back to what they know when the action is over.

The plot is simple and Cornish keeps the movie flowing at a decent pace although it never feels rushed. The movie looks good, the action is done well and the aliens look fantastic.

The young cast are all quite good, with Moses Boyega a real standout. Granted he is given more to do, his character is more fleshed out and feels more real than the more one dimensional members of his gang. The humour quotient is mainly due to Nick Frost in a supporting role as dopey grug dealer.

The London gangsta dialect becomes a bit tedious and there are moments early on when I just wanted Harry Brown to come along and end it all. Overall it’s a fun movie, a nice distraction from the more formulaic fare out there at the moment.

Quality: 3 out of 5 stars

Any good: 4 out of 5 stars