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

Posts tagged “Biography

R.I.P Dick Miller

dick miller - after darkDick Miller, prolific screen actor and B-Movie legend, best known for his role as Murray Futterman in the 1984 classic horror film Gremlins, has died. He was 90.

With a career spanning more than 60 years, Miller has made hundreds of on screen appearances, beginning in the 1950’s with legendary director and producer Roger Corman. It was then that he starred as Walter Paisley – a character the actor would reprise throughout his career – in the cult classic “A Bucket of Blood,” before going on to land roles on projects such as The ‘Burbs, Fame and The Terminator.

Miller also boasts a long history of high-profile director partnerships, working with the likes of James Cameron, Ernest Dickerson, Martin Scorsese, John Sayles and, perhaps most notably, Joe Dante, who used Miller in almost every project he helmed.

In one of Dante’s earlier films, Piranha, Miller played Buck Gardner, a small-time real estate agent opening up a new resort on Lost River Lake. The only catch? A large school of genetically altered piranha have accidentally been released into the resort’s nearby rivers. Next up was a police chief role in the 1979 film Rock ‘n’ Roll High School before reprising the Walter Paisley mantle as an occult bookshop owner in Dante’s 1981 horror film The Howling.

Other notable appearances include the 1986 cult favorite Night of the Creeps, where he shared the screen with Tom Atkins as a police ammunition’s officer named Walt – he supplies Atkins with some necessary firepower in the face of an alien worm-zombie invasion – and a pawnshop owner in James Cameron’s 1984 hit The Terminator; the same year he appeared in yet another of Dante’s films, Gremlins.

Most recently, Miller reprised the role of Walter Paisley for a final time as a rabbi in Eben McGarr’s horror film Hanukkah.

Miller is survived by his wife Lainie, daughter Barbara and granddaughter Autumn.

joedanteDante called him “one of his most treasured collaborators,” writing, “I ‘grew up’ (kinda) watching Dick Miller in movies from the 50’s on and was thrilled to have him in my first movie for Roger Corman.”


The Invisible Man

The-Invisible-Man_regularThe-Invisible-Man_variantTwo new posters by Elvisdead: The Invisible Man. Available at Mondo Tees HERE

 


Kermode Uncut: Wes Craven – Pioneer of Horror

Mark Kermode pays tribute to Wes Craven – one of the most gifted horror directors of our time.


Wes Craven R.I.P

wes_cravenDirector Wes Craven died on Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. Craven was 76 and passed away at home surrounded by his family after battling brain cancer.

From his first feature film The Last House On The Left as writer, director and editor in 1972, Craven made his mark as a genre-bending, bracingly innovative horror director with a biting sense of humour. Craven also consistently demonstrated that he was a filmmaker with heart. Among the films that followed The Last House On The Left were The Hills Have Eyes and a sequel, Deadly Blessing (featuring Sharon Stone in her first starring role) and Swamp Thing (based on the comic book).

Craven reinvented the youth horror genre again in 1984 with the now classic A Nightmare On Elm Street, in which he turned Robert Englund into a cult icon with the role of Freddy Krueger. The movie spawned several sequels, none of them directed by Craven, however, he deconstructed the genre a decade after the original, writing and directing the audacious Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which was nominated for Best Feature at the 1995 Independent Spirit Awards.

In 1996 Craven experienced yet another rebirth in horror with the release of Scream, which he directed from a script by Kevin Williamson. Scream sparked multiple sequels and spoofs.

One of the last projects Craven worked on was MTV’s series adaptation of Scream, on which he served as executive producer. The series was recently renewed for a second season. “Wes Craven was a tremendous visionary whose sensibility for scares has connected with generations of MTV fans,” MTV said in a statement. “We are honored to have worked with him and proud to carry on his legacy with Scream. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.”

Craven took a breather from horror between Scream 2 and Scream 3, when he seized an opportunity to direct a non-genre film for Miramax, Music Of The Heart (1999), which earned star Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. That same year he completed his first novel, The Fountain Society, published by Simon & Shuster.

Craven continued to stretch his creative boundaries with the 2005 thriller Red Eye, starring Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy and Brian Cox. The following year he switched gears again to write and direct a romantic comedy homage to Oscar Wilde featuring Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell as a segment in the popular French ensemble anthology Paris Je T’aime.

He then returned to horror as producer of remakes of two of his earlier films, The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and The Last House On The Left (2009). Craven’s most recent written and directed film, My Soul To Take (2010), once again brought together a cast of up-and-coming actors. It marked Craven’s first collaboration with wife and producer Iya Labunka, who also produced Scream 4, which reunited Craven with screenwriter Williamson, as well as with stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, joined by newcomers Emma Roberts and Hayden Pannetierre.

Remaining creatively engaged and active until his death, Craven had signed an overall TV deal with Universal Cable Productions. He had a number of projects in development including The People Under The Stairs and We Are All Completely Fine with Syfy, Disciples with UCP, and Sleepers with Federation Entertainment.

Craven also recently wrote and was scheduled to direct the “Thou Shalt Not Kill” segment for The Weinstein Company/WGN’s Ten Commandments miniseries. Additionally he was working on a graphic novel series based on his original idea “Coming Of Rage” for Liquid Comics in collaboration with Steve Niles.

Craven was an executive producer of the upcoming feature The Girl In The Photographs, which will premiere next month the 2015 Toronto Film Festival.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Craven was a nature lover and committed bird conservationist, serving as a long-time member of the Audubon California Board of Directors. A longtime summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard, he had moved there permanently three years ago before returning to Los Angeles for work and health reasons.


R.I.P. Rowdy Roddy Piper

they-live-posterWWE legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper died after suffering a heart attack in his Hollywood home. He was 61.

Piper’s agent Jay Schacter confirmed the news, first reported by TMZ, to Variety. “Rod passed peacefully in his sleep last night,” Schacter said in an email. “I am shocked and beyond devastated.” Piper had suffered a bout of Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2006 but was reportedly deemed cancer-free last November.

Born Roderick George Toombs, Piper joined the WWE in 1984 after getting his start with the NWA in the late 1970s. He and Hulk Hogan met in landmark matchups including MTV’s “The War to Settle the Score” and the first WrestleMania, where Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff took on Hogan and Mr. T.

Not being much of a wrestling fan I loved Piper for his film work, specifically They Live and Hell Comes To Frogtown. 

Hell Comes to Frogtown (1987) was created by Donald G. Jackson, set in an post apocalyptic wasteland where few fertile men and women exist due to atomic fallout and, as a result, the government places a high priority on those that can still breed. Sam Hell (Piper), a nomadic traveler who wanders the countryside is captured by an organization of warrior-nurses, who reveal that they located him by tracking the trail of pregnant women left in his wake. Awesome fun.

They Live follows a nameless drifter referred to as Nada (Piper), who discovers the ruling class are in fact aliens concealing their appearance and manipulating people to spend money, breed and accept the status quo via subliminal messages in the mass media (way ahead of its time!).

Director John Carpenter wanted Roddy Piper after they met at WrestleMania III earlier in 1987. For Carpenter it was an easy choice: “Unlike most Hollywood actors, Roddy has life written all over him.”

The movie featured Roddy’s now famous line: “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.” R.I.P. Roddy.


F. W. Murnau Skull Stolen From Grave

Murnau-graveThe skull of director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, best known for vampire classic Nosferatu (1922), has disappeared from his grave in Stahnsdorf, outside of Berlin, German media reports said citing authorities.

The skull was discovered to be missing on Monday and slight damage to the grave led authorities to believe that it had been stolen. The theft is thought to have taken place between July 4 and July 12, according to the reports. Police opened a probe and called on possible witnesses to come forward.

F. W. Murnau died in a car accident in Santa Barbara in 1931 at the age of 42. He was buried back in German, and over the years, his tomb has become a kind of tourist spot for Satanists. His Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans won a two Oscars at the first-ever Academy Awards in 1929.


Sir Christopher Lee – R.I.P.

Sir-Christopher-LeeSad news just in, one of my all time movie star heroes, for as long as I can remember, Sir Christopher Lee, has died at the age of 93 after being hospitalised for respiratory problems and heart failure.

The veteran actor, best known for a variety of films from Dracula to The Wicker Man through to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, passed away on Sunday morning at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, according to sources.

The decision to release the news days after was based on his wife’s desire to inform family members first. The couple had been married for over 50 years.

His film career started in 1947 with a role in gothic romance Corridor of Mirrors but it wasn’t until the late 50s, when Lee worked with Hammer, that he started gaining fame. His first role with the studio was The Curse of Frankenstein and it was the first of 20 films that he made with fellow legend, Peter Cushing.

Lee’s most famous role for Hammer was playing Dracula, a role which became one of his most widely recognised although the actor wasn’t pleased with how the character was treated. “They gave me nothing to do!” he told Total Film Magazine in 2005. “I pleaded with Hammer to let me use some of the lines that Bram Stoker had written. Occasionally, I sneaked one in. Eventually I told them that I wasn’t going to play Dracula any more. All hell broke loose.”

In the 70s, Lee continued to gain fame in the horror genre with a role in The Wicker Man, a film which he considered to be his best… he’s right.

He was knighted in 2009 for services to drama and charity and was awarded the Bafta fellowship in 2011. Lee still has one film yet to be released, the fantasy film Angels in Notting Hill.


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The Nightmare – Poster

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The Nightmare – Trailer

A look at a frightening condition that plagues thousands; sleep paralysis. Directed by Rodney Ascher (Room 237), The Nightmare recreates the hypnagogic hallucinations that these people experience… terrifying shadowmen, spectral cats, sudden spiders and menacing spirits…


Legend – UK Trailer

Here’s the UK teaser for Legend, starring Tom Hardy as both of the infamously ruthless Kray twins Ronnie and Reggie who dominated London’s criminal underworld in the 1950s and ’60s. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland, the movie also stars Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri, Tara Fitzgerald and Taron Egerton.


Saul Bass: Famous Title’s from Preminger to Scorsese

Acclaimed titles designer Saul Bass worked with some of Hollywood’s most legendary directors during his 40-plus year career, and on some of their best pictures. His first title credit was on Otto Preminger’s 1954 Carmen Jones. From there, Bass went on to collaborate on over 60 films, many of which have become much deserved cinema classics.

In this hour-long compilation, YouTube user FlaneurSolitaire pieces together scores of Bass’ revered title sequences in chronological order, starting with The Man with the Golden Arm (also directed by Preminger), from 1955. Bass also did the titles for Spartacus (1960), which you can find at the 20:19 mark of the video.

Preminger isn’t the only director to bring Bass aboard more than once. Bass also developed long lasting working relationships with such historic and undeniably influential talents as Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, Vertigo, and North by Northwest to name but a few) and, later, Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, Cape Fear, and Casino). In fact, Casino is the last sequence Bass did before he passed away in 1996.

Just look at these designs. Bass’ unique eye and aesthetic helped capture the essence of each film he worked on, often in less than three minutes.


R.I.P Alan J. Hirshfield

Hirschfield (Medium)Long-time former studio and media executive Alan J. Hirschfield has died of natural causes at 79 in his Wilson, Wyoming, home, his son confirmed. Hirschfield was perhaps best known for overseeing the creation of Taxi Driver and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but had a long career heading a number of media and entertainment companies before becoming a consultant and board member with many more companies in the industry and beyond.

Hirschfield was born in New York and grew up in Oklahoma. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma, and an MBA from Harvard University. 

Hirschfield was CEO of Columbia Pictures from 1973 to 1978 before being ousted because he refused on moral grounds to reinstate David Begelman, who had embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from the studio. Between 1982 and 1986, Hirschfield was chairman of Twentieth Century Fox, then became a consultant for several years, including two as consultant to the chairman of Warner Communications.

From 1990 to 1992, Hirschfield was an investment banker and also co-CEO of Financial News Network. From 1992 to 2000, he was co-CEO of Data Broadcasting Corp., which subsequently merged with Financial Times/Pearson’s Inc. He then returned to consulting in the media and entertainment industry as president of Norman Hirschfield and Company. In the 1960s, he was an investment banker, and director and CFO of Warner/7 Arts.

A busy man, Hirschfield served on the boards of directors of Forbes, Carmike Cinemas, CBS Marketwatch, Billboard Publishing, Motown Records, Chappell Music Publishing, Chyron Corp., Cantel Medical Corp., Peregrine Systems, Interactive Data Corp., Enercrest, Wiltel Corp. and Leucadia National Corp. For decades, Hirschfield collected notable artifacts and art tied to the Old West and Native Americans. He also served with a number of philanthropic and non-profit organizations, including as director of the Lymphoma Research Foundation, as a trustee of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The George Gustav Haye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian, Grand Teton Music Festival and the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole. He also was a trustee of the American Film Institute and an MPAA director.He is survived by his wife, Berte Hirschfield and three children.


R.I.P. Rod Taylor

Rod-Taylor_The-Time-MachineRod Taylor, the Australian-born film and television actor who appeared in Inglourious Basterds and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic The Birds, died of natural causes Wednesday, several sources confirmed. He was 84.

Taylor appeared in more than 50 films and dozens of TV shows over the course a decades-long career. In the ’50s, he appeared in such television shows as Studio 57and western Cheyenne, and guest-starred in an episode of The Twilight Zone (“And When The Sky Was Opened”) in 1959.

His first leading role in a feature film was in 1960’s Time Machine, George Pal’s adaptation of the science-fiction classic by H. G. Wells. Taylor played a time traveller who, thousands of years in the future, falls for a woman played by Yvette Mimieux.

Taylor segued back and forth between film and television roles in the 1960s, landing a starring role in Hitchcock’s 1963 classic The Birds as Mitch Brenner, whose home and town came under a menacing attack by birds.

He took on more tough-guy roles toward of the end of ’60s in films such as Chuka, Dark Of The Sun, Nobody Runs Forever and Darker Than Amber.

Taylor turned again to television in the ’70s, appearing in Bearcats! (1971) on CBS and in The Oregon Trail (1976) on NBC. He also had a regular role in the short-lived spy drama series Masquerade. His later TV credits included Falcon Crest, Murder She Wrote and Walker, Texas Ranger. His most recent film appearance was in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds in 2009, playing Winston Churchill in a cameo.


Jack Davis Retires

Jack-Davis_Creepy_Tales-From-The-CryptJack Davis, the legendary Mad magazine illustrator and movie poster artist, is finally hanging up his pencils. Davis has conducted a short interview with Wired:

It’s not that the iconic 90-year-old cartoonist can’t draw anymore—he just can’t meet his own standards. “I’m not satisfied with the work,” Davis says by phone from his rural Georgia home. “I can still draw, but I just can’t draw like I used to.”

Davis has probably spent more time in America’s living rooms than anyone. Madwas a million-seller when Davis was on the mag, and when he was doing TV Guidecovers in the 1970s, the publication boasted a circulation of over 20 million. Yet, Davis is largely unaware of his massive cultural significance. “I never really thought about that, but I guess I’m very blessed,” he says. “I’ve been very lucky.”

But his luck paled in comparison to his skill. Davis started his career in 1936, when he was only 12; he won $1 as part of a national art contest and saw his work published in Tip Top Comics #9. While still a teen, his cartoons were published inThe Yellow Jacket, a humor magazine at Georgia Tech University, where his uncle was a professor. After a stint in the military, Davis caught on with EC Comics in 1950, where he was part of the artistic wave that revolutionized comics with titles like Tales from the Crypt, Two-Fisted Tales, and Mad.

Whereas Norman Rockwell’s images represented Americana of the 1940s and ’50s with his Boy Scouts and pigtailed girls, Davis’ work epitomized the ’60s and ’70s—the smirking, sardonic face of the emerging counterculture. By the time the Beats and the Hippies (who came of age reading Davis cartoons) took over, he was doing movie posters for Woody Allen’s Bananas, The Long Goodbye, American Graffiti, and others.

jack_davis_ae_cover11“Jack Davis is probably the most versatile artist ever to work the worlds of comic books, illustration, or movie poster art,” Scott Dunbier, a former art dealer and current director of special projects at comic book publisher IDW. “He can work in a humorous style or deadly serious style, historical or modern, anything. His work transcends that of almost any other cartoonist.”

IDW recently published Jack Davis’ EC Stories Artist’s Edition, reprinting some of Davis’ classic stories taken from the original art. You can view the book HERE. Other pieces from the archives may emerge, but Davis is done producing new work. “I’m just gonna sit on the porch and watch the river go by,” Davis says. “And maybe go fishing once in a while.”


Frank Yablans R.I.P

Frank-Yablans_Movie-BannerFrank Yablans, the president of Paramount Pictures during the fertile early ’70s era that produced films including The Godfather and Chinatown, died of natural causes Thursday at his home in Los Angeles, according to his son, ICM Partners agent Eddy Yablans. He was 79.

Renowned for a hearty sense of humor and temperamental outbursts, Yablans was later COO of MGM/United Artists and co-wrote the screenplay for Mommie Dearest, which he also produced.

Born in Brooklyn, Frank Yablans was brother of producer Irwin Yablans. He got his start in showbiz working for Warner Bros., Disney and Filmways, and became exec VP of sales at Paramount in the late 1960s, where he worked on marketing the hit film Love Story.

The success of the tearjerker led to his being named president of the studio from 1971 to 1975. Yablans was a pioneer in advocating wide openings on films like The Godfather, which opened on 350 screens rather than just in New York and Los Angeles, which was the custom at the time.

During that time, the studio had a run of groundbreaking films including Rosemary’s Baby, Goodbye Columbus, True Grit, Serpico, Paper Moon and Death Wish.

As recounted in former Paramount head of production Robert Evans’ excellent book The Kid Stays in the Picture,  Yablans engaged in an intense fight over deal terms on Chinatown, one of the factors that led to his dismissal as president of Paramount. Evans had negotiated a piece of the gross of that film (while still being head of production) and Yablans wanted to share 50-50. He was replaced by Barry Diller.

Kirk Kerkorian brought him on as vice chairman and chief operating officer of MGM from 1983 to 1985, but despite Yablans’ efforts to reduce costs by combining the historic studio with United Artists, the studio continued to face financial trouble.

He produced numerous films independently, including Congo, The Fury, Silver Streak and The Other Side of Midnight. He also co-wrote North Dallas Forty.

He later founded Promenade Pictures to produce faith-based family entertainment such as the “Epic Stories of the Bible” series and was a producer on the Rome TV series.

He is survived by three children, four grandchildren and his longtime companion Nadia Pandolfo.


P. D. James R.I.P

children_of_men_ver2One of the most prolific and beloved of British crime novelists, P.D. James, passed away today in Oxford, England. Best known for her series of detective novels centering around Scotland Yard Commander/poet Adam Dagliesh, James was 94. Her non-Dagliesh book, Children Of Men, was the basis for Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 Oscar nominated film of the same name. She also recently was the impetus for Death Comes To Pemberley, a BBC and Masterpiece miniseries based on her novel that imagines Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice characters later in life and faced with a murderous scandal. Several of her earlier books were also transferred to the small screen including Death Of An Expert Witness, Unnatural Causes, A Taste For Death, Devices And Desires, A Mind To Murder and Death In Holy Orders.

Phyllis Dorothy James White was born in Oxford in 1920 and began writing in the mid-50s. Her first Dagliesh novel, Cover Her Face, was published in 1962. In 1991, she became Baroness James of Holland Park, but was better known as “the Queen of Crime.” Her publisher, Faber & Faber, today announced her passing with the following statement: “This is a very sad day for us at Faber. It is difficult to express our profound sadness at losing P.D. James, one of the world’s great writers and a Faber author since her first publication in 1962. She was so very remarkable in every aspect of her life, an inspiration and great friend to us all. It is a privilege to publish her extraordinary books. Working with her was always the best of times, full of joy. We will miss her hugely.”


Mike Nichols – R.I.P.

800px-Still_portrait_Mike_NicholsLegendary film and theater director, writer and producer Mike Nichols has passed away. An Oscar winner for 1967′s seminal The Graduate, he also was nominated for such films as Working Girl, Silkwood and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? For his stage work, he amassed 10 Tony Awards including as director for such plays as Barefoot In The Park, The Odd Couple, The Prisoner Of Second Avenue andDeath Of A Salesman; and as producer of Annie and The Real Thing.

“William Goldman said there were two great American film directors—Elia Kazan and Mike Nichols,” said Broadway producer Emanuel Azenberg, who co-produced Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing with Nichols, who also staged ythe play’s Tony-winning Broadway edition with Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons. “I think that’s true. He was a giant who could convince people to be better than they were.”

Nichols died suddenly late Wednesday night at 83 and his passing was announced on Thursday morning by ABC News President James Goldston. Nichols was married to ABC News Anchor Diane Sawyer. Goldston said this morning, “He was a true visionary, winning the highest honors in the arts for his work as a director, writer, producer and comic and was one of a tiny few to win the EGOT — an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony in his lifetime. No one was more passionate about his craft than Mike… Mike and Diane were married for 26 years. He leaves behind three children — Daisy, Max and Jenny — and four wonderful grandchildren… The family will hold a small, private service this week, and a memorial will be held at a later date.”

Nichols’ last film as director was 2007′s Charlie Wilson’s War with Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman. In 2012, he staged a Tony-winning revival of Death Of A Salesman with Hoffman as Willy Loman. At the time of his death, he was working on an adaptation of Terrence McNally’s Tony-winning play about Maria Callas, Master Class, for HBO.

Nichols was an “extraordinary talent. Consummate gentleman. One of the legends,” HBO CEO Richard Plepler said this morning. “Legend is often overused, but he was a legend and most importantly he was unbelievably decent and had time for everybody, mentored a lot of young talent. That is a vacuum that will not be filled.”
Steven Spielberg weighed in on Nichols’ passing this morning with the following statement to Deadline:

The-Church-in-The-Graduate-600x400“Mike was a friend, a muse, a mentor, one of America’s all time greatest film and stage directors, and one of the most generous people I have ever known. For me, The Graduate was life altering — both as an experience at the movies as well as a master class about how to stage a scene. Mike had a brilliant cinematic eye and uncanny hearing for keeping scenes ironic and real. Actors never gave him less than their personal best — and then Mike would get from them even more. And in a room full of people, Mike was always the center of gravity. This is a seismic loss.”

Nichols was born in Germany in 1931 and moved to the U.S. with his family at age seven. He pursued theater while attending the University of Chicago in the early 1950s. Although he was studying medicine, his true calling was comedy. He met Elaine May in Chicago and the pair formed a legendary comedy duo, winning a Grammy in 1962 for Best Comedy Album.

In 1964, he directed Barefoot In The Park on Broadway, and followed that up with The Odd Couple in 1965. His first film as director was Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? in 1966 which won five Oscars including Best Actress for Elizabeth Taylor. He followed that up the next year with The Graduate, putting Dustin Hoffman on the map and earning seven Oscar nominations. Nichols won his first Oscar for directing the film. In the early 70’s, he helmed Carnal Knowledge and in the 80’s made a string of now classic movies that includes Silkwood, Heartburn and Working Girl. He produced 1993′s Best Picture nominee The Remains Of The Day, and in 1996 transferred The Birdcage to film with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane starring. His 1998 Primary Colors opened the Cannes Film Festival that year.

MV5BMTM0MzM1NTAyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTkyMTQzNw@@._V1._SX333_SY500_His TV credits include exec producing classic 1970’s drama series Family and directing and exec producing HBO drama Angels In America.

The list of actors with whom Nichols worked on stage and screen is a who’s who of Hollywood, past and present. They include (in no particular order) Julie Christie, Lillian Gish, George C Scott, Richard Dreyfuss, Morgan Freeman, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Emma Thompson, John Travolta, Kathy Bates, Natalie Portman, Christopher Walken, John Goodman, Kevin Kline, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, Ron Silver, Anne Bancroft, Candice Bergen, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.


Demon House – By Lee Daniels

director_lee_danielsIn the kind of move not generally seen, ‘serious’ director Lee Daniels is taking a turn toward the horror genre. The helmer who last directed Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The Paperboy and Precious will direct the fact-based film currently titled Demon House. The film is based on Latoya Ammons and her family, whose life rights made this film possible. They claim to have been victims of a demonic possession that has spanned over two years and counting. Ammons and her family have received international media attention for their accounts, which have been witnessed and documented by the Department of Child Services, the Gary (IN) Police Department and hospital staff.

The experience began with unusual occurrences in her home over two years ago, including swarms of flies around her porch in the winter and unexplainable creaking sounds in her basement. The events progressed to possessive incidents including her oldest daughter unconsciously levitating above her bed, medical staff witnessing her middle son gliding backward on the floor, wall and ceiling. According to Relativity, the DCS case manager witnessed her youngest son growling with his teeth showing and eyes rolled back, locking his hands around his older brother’s throat with no recollection of the incident. Initial psychological exams and exorcism attempts failed to provide explanation or solution for the bizarre events.


Birdman Returns – Official Trailer

1992 was the year that Michael Keaton wore the Dark Knight’s mask for a second time in Batman Returns, but coincidentally it was also the year that his on-screen alter ego Riggan Thomson donned the beak for Birdman Returns. In an AwardLine interview, Keaton says that when he discussed the script for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) with director Alejandro G. Inarritu, “I remember us spending no time about the material being reflective about me personally. We jumped immediately into other discussions. I’m sure at some point we said, we gotta figure this out….We discussed what was happening to artists, to human beings, a person’s ego. This is more about Alejandro than it is about me, Ed Norton or Emma Stone…It’s about the effects on an artist, how they question things. Alejandro was brave with the material; he’s not coy and comes out says why he was struggling.”


Tales of Halloween

Tales-of-Halloween-posterAnthology Horror is doing well at the moment, the V/H/S and ABC’s of Death both doing solid business, now we have Tales of Halloween which will consist of ten segments from eleven directors. Tales of Halloween will bring together directors like Neil Marshall (The Descent) and Darren Bousman (Saws II-IV) in celebration of that most macabre of holidays.

In addition to Marshall and Bousman, there’s Joe Begos (Almost Human), Axelle Carolyn (Soulmate), Adam Gierasch (Night of the Demons), Andrew Kasch (Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy) and John Skipp (Stay at Home Dad), Mike Mendez (Big Ass Spider!), Dave Parker (The Hills Run Red), Ryan Schifrin (Abominable), and Paul Solet (Grace).

All of the interconnected segments will take place during Halloween night in one quiet American town. Well, one typically-quiet American town. On this particular evening it’s being terrorized by all manner of horrifying creatures, from ghouls and aliens to good-old-fashioned murderers.

Carolyn was the one to come up with the project, and will serve as producer alongside Mendez. Many of the filmmakers come from the same Los Angeles scene and are such good friends they even have a cute name for themselves, The October Society.

“It’s so great to be working with such a unique and talented group of directors,” said Marshall. “Many of The October Society have been friends for years, so when Axelle had the idea of combining our talents for an anthology based on our mutual love of Halloween and all things scary, it was a no-brainer.”

Pre-production on Tales of Halloween is already underway, and shooting is expected to begin in November. There’s no release date for this one yet, but it seems a safe bet that we can expect it out in time for the holiday next year… cool poster.


Out of Print – FREE Documentary

Julia Marchese has spent the past couple years producing and directing Out of Print, a documentary on the allure of 35mm film projection, with the New Beverly at the center of the doc. Financed in part via Kickstarter, the film features interviews with Patton Oswalt, Edgar Wright, Rian Johnson, Joe Carnahan, Kevin Smith, Seth Green, Joe Dante, Mark Romanek, John Landis, Fred Dekker, Lloyd Kaufman, and Richard Kelly.

Now, she has released the film online for free. The title Out of Print has proven to be unfortunately prophetic, for reasons Marchese explains in her online release and on her webpage HERE, but you can enjoy the feature in full right now.


Mike Mignola

Mike-Mignola_HellboyMike Mignola was born September 16, 1960 in Berkeley, California and grew up in nearby Oakland. His fascination with ghosts and monsters began at an early age (he doesn’t remember why) and reading Dracula at age 13 introduced him to Victorian literature and folklore from which he has never recovered.

In 1982, hoping to find a way to draw monsters for a living, he moved to New York City and began working for Marvel Comics—First as a (very terrible, according to the man himself) inker and then as an artist on comics like Rocket Raccoon, Alpha Flight, and The Hulk. 

Hellboy_graphic-novelBy the late 80’s he had begun to develop his signature style (Thin lines, clunky shapes and lots of black) and moved onto higher profile commercial projects like Cosmic Odyssey (1988) and Gotham by Gaslight (1989) for DC Comics, and the not so commercial Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser (1990) for Marvel. In 1992 he drew the comic book adaptation of the film Bram Stoker’s Dracula for Topps Comics.

In 1993 Mike moved to Dark Horse comics and created Hellboy – A half-demon occult detective who may or may not be the Beast of the Apocalypse. While the first story line (Seed of Destruction 1994) was co-written by John Byrne, Mike has continued writing the series himself. There are, at this moment, 13 HELLBOY graphic novel collections (with more on the way), several spin-off titles (BPRD, Lobster Johnson, Abe Sapien and Witchfinder), 3 anthologies of prose stories, several novels, 2 animated films and 2 live action films staring Ron Perlman. Hellboy has earns numerous comic industry awards and is published in a great many countries.

mignola_bprd-hell-on-earthMike also created the award-winning comic book The Amazing Screw-On Head and has co-written two novels (Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire and Joe Golem and the Drowning City) with best selling author Christopher Golden.

Mike worked (very briefly) with Francis Ford Coppola on his film Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), was a production designer on the Disney film Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) and was visual consultant to director Guillermo del Toro on Blade II (2002), Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008).

Mignola_rocket_groot_cover_colorMike considers The Magician and the Snake the best thing he has ever done. Though scripted and drawn by him the 6 page story was actually plotted by his daughter Katie (at the time 7 years old) and earned both of them Eisner Awards for best short story.

He lives somewhere in Southern California with his wife, daughter, a lot of books and a cat. He is one of the few comic artists that I buy work unseen based on his participation (the others are Berni Wrightson, Liberatore and Eric Powell) I suggest you purchase some of his work immediately.


Lord Richard Attenborough R.I.P.

Richard-Attenborough-MagicTwo-time Oscar-winner Lord Richard Attenborough has died in England at the age of 90 after a glittering career on both sides of the camera that included acting in films such as Brighton Rock, The Great Escape, 10 Rillington Place and Jurassic Park, and directing and producing Oh! What a Lovely War, A Bridge Too Far, Magic, Gandhi and Chaplin. 

Attenborough won the Oscar for best director in 1983 for his work on Gandhi, and for Best Picture for producing Gandhi.  He also won three Golden Globes for supporting actor in Doctor Doolittle and The Sand Pebbles, and as director for Gandhi, which seemingly won everything the year it came out (its Oscar total was eight). His directing of musical adaptation A Chorus Line and Cry Freedom, the biopic about slain anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, also earned Golden Globe nominations.

Attenborough’s relationship with BAFTA (where he served as president for seven years, beginning in 2002) was even longer, beginning in 1959 and including 11 BAFTA Award nominations and four wins.

Sir Ben Kingsley, who won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal in Gandhi, issued a statement as well:  “Richard Attenborough trusted me with the crucial and central task of bringing to life a dream it took him twenty years to bring to fruition. When he gave me the part of Gandhi, it was with great grace and joy. He placed in me an absolute trust and in turn, I placed an absolute trust in him and grew to love him. I, along with millions of others whom he touched through his life and work, will miss him dearly.”

Steven Spielberg, who directed Attenborough in Jurassic Park, also issued a fond statement: “Dickie Attenborough was passionate about everything in his life. Family, friends, his country and career. He made a gift to the world with his emotional epic Gandhi and he was the perfect ringmaster to bring the dinosaurs back to life as John Hammond in Jurassic Park.  He was a dear friend and I am standing in an endless line of those who completely adored him.”

Attenborough had been in failing health in recent years, selling his beloved estate and moving into a nursing home in 2013 to be near his wife, Sheila, whom he married in 1945. He died at yesterday in west London, his son said, five years after a stroke that had confined him to a wheelchair and only a few days before his 91st birthday.

He was also older brother of naturalist and TV personality Sir David Attenborough, who survives him, as does his wife and three sons. A daughter, Jane Holland, and her daughter died in the 2004 tsunami that killed an estimated 230,000 people in Southeast Asia. Attenborough created multiple facilities at Leicester and elsewhere to honor his lost family members and others killed in the disaster.

BAFTA Chief Executive Amanda Berry and Chair Anne Morrison issued the following statement: “We are deeply saddened by the death of Lord Attenborough Kt CBE, a monumental figure in BAFTA’s history. Lord Attenborough was intimately involved with the Academy for over 50 years.  He believed in it passionately, supported it tirelessly and was integral to the organisation that BAFTA has become today.”

A proposal to introduce an Academy Fellowship was originally put forward by Lord Attenborough and it was first presented by SFTA as part of the annual Film Awards in 1971 to Alfred Hitchcock.  The occasion was hosted by Lord Attenborough and reached a television audience of 16.5 million.  Lord Attenborough himself became an Academy Fellowship recipient in 1983.

In 1976, he played a pivotal role in the Royal opening of the present Academy’s headquarters and during that occasion introduced the presentation of the Fellowship to Sir Charles Chaplin, whom he admired enormously.

On a personal note, I had the pleasure of meeting him in 1985 at a Premiere performance of A Chorus Line at the Newcastle Odeon. Working part-time at BBC Newcastle I was given a ticket by one of my bosses, and being at the time a young student, I headed straight for the food on offer. A man next to me asked what was good? It was ‘Dickie’, on hearing my accent he asked if I supported Newcastle United, when I replied ‘yes’ he asked if we could talk about the football as he was sick of talking to everyone about his movie. He was a passionate Chelsea supporter and we had a lively discussion for 5 minutes or so before he was whisked away to speak to the press. I remember him fondly as a charismatic figure, very engaging and quick-witted. I became a huge fan there and then.

Lord Attenborough occupies a special place in the hearts of so many and will be missed enormously. My thoughts are with his family, to whom I offer my deepest sympathy at this time.


The Bringing – Elisa Lam Movie

Sony Pictures is negotiating with Jeremy Lovering to direct The Bringing, the horror script by Brandon and Phillip Murphy based on actual events. Matt Tolmach and Daniela Cretu are producing. This has been top priority at Sony, and at one time had Nicolas Winding Refn circling. The pic is based on Elisa Lam, who was found dead in the water tanks on the roof of the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles. That’s the place that killers like Richard Ramirez called home at one time or another, and where suicides have occurred. Footage of Lam’s bizarre, inexplicable behavior in an elevator before her death became a massive Internet sensation, and this has been turned into the story of the man investigating her death, and the nightmare he stumbles into. Cretu’s First Born Films developed the script that was brought in by Kate Checchi and Brad Zimmerman.

Lovering directed In Fear, an Irish psychological horror film that premiered at Sundance 2013. It stars Iain De Caestecker and Alice Englert as a young couple terrorized by an unknown assailant.

Here’s the video of missing Canadian Elisa Lam from the LAPD.