Posted on 26 May 2009 by Rich Drees
Buffy The Vampire Slayer is heading back to the big screen, but without the involvement of her creator Joss Whedon.
There will be a brief pause while everyone asks themselves “What’s the point in that?”
The 1992 film’s original directors Fran Rubel Kuzui and Kaz Kuzui are looking at bringing the cult movie-turned-hit television series back to the big screen. But their new version will be a remake of the film, without any of the large supporting cast of characters from the television series or its spin-off, Angel, according to a story in the Hollywood Reporter.
While disappointing that Whedon won’t be involved, the Kuzuis are within their rights here. They are the owners of the Buffy film property, having purchased it when they bought the original feature film script from Whedon for their own production company. Although the resultant 1992 film was not a box office success, the couple were also instrumental in making the business deal to get Buffy launched as a series on the fledgling WB network. Although by all accounts, the Kuzuis had no further involvement with the series except to cash their paychecks for serving as executive producers.
If you think that the exclusion of the film’s original writer is no big deal, then you just aren’t familiar with the circumstances surrounding Buffy The Vampire Slayer. If you have ever read Whedon’s version of the feature film script or seen the resultant television series, you get a much truer idea of what Whedon had in mind for the character than if you have just seen the film version. Whedon mixed horror and comedy, where the Kuzui’s direction on the film missed the mark on both. For fans, Whedon’s distinct writing voice is as much an integral part of the franchise as any singular character.
Here’s hoping someone puts a stake through the heart of this idea before it progresses too much further.
Posted on 11 January 2009 by Rich Drees
Ray Dennis Steckler, director of such low budget exploitation fare as The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Decided To Stop Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies, died this past Wedsnesday, January 7,in Las Vegas. He was 70.
After a stint in the Army serving as a photographer and a year working at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York, Steckler moved to Los Angeles. Taking a job as the assistant cameraman on the Timothy Carey film, The World’s Greatest Sinner, and was promoted to director of photography when the Carey fired the original one. Following shooting a few films at Universal, Steckler moved over to the low budget indie production house Fairway Picture. At Fairway, he quickly was assigneddirectorial duties starting with Wild Guitar. The film aslo was another first for Steckler as it marked the first time he would act in one of his own features under the name Cash Flagg.
In 1963, Steckler added the title co-producer to his resume with The Incredibly Strange Creatures. Produced on a budget of $38,000, the film would provide t he first break for two cinematographers- Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond. At first distributed by Fairway on the bottom half of a double bill, Steckler also toured the film himself under a variety of names for further profit. Steckler would also direct such movies as Goof On The Loose (1964), The Lemon Grove Kids Meet The Monsters (1965) and the Batman parody Rat Pfink A Boo Boo (1966).
With the decline of demand for the type of cheapie drive-in fare that he was creating, Steckler moved into producing and directing campy, softcore porno films with titles like Sexoricist Devil and The Horny Vampire under a variety of pseudonyms in the 1970s.
Last year Steckler announced a sequel to The Incredibly Strange Creatures entitled One More Time. He reportedly finished the film shortly before his death. It is scheduled for a direct to DVD release in June.
Posted on 07 January 2009 by Rich Drees
Garrett Hedlund will be sucked into the cyberspace world within in a computer for Disney’s Tron 2.0.
The Hollywood Reporter is stating that the Friday Night Lights star has been cast as the lead in the upcoming sequel to the 1981 cult classic, beating out the likes of Ryan Gosling, Chris Pine and Michael Stahl-David for the part.
Disney is holding their cards relatively close to their vest and have not released what Hedlund’s character’s name will be or any real plot details save that he will be “a man who finds himself pulled into the world of a computer and retracing the steps of a character from the original movie named Kevin Flynn.” Jeff Bridges, who played Flynn in the original film, has been signed for the sequel along with original Tron star Bruce Boxleitner.
Posted on 05 January 2009 by Rich Drees
If you haven’t been to BlobFest, the annual celebration of the classic 1958 monster movie in the Philadelphia suburbs where the film was shot, you’re missing out on one of the funest film events of the year. One weekend every July, hundreds gather at the original movie theater the Blob attacked to recreate the films famous “running out” scene, hear rockabilly bands, see the fire extinguisher parade, participate in the tin foil hat competition and see screenings of classic 50s science-fiction and monster movies, including, of course, The Blob.
If you’re interested, start making your travel plans for July 10th through the 12th, heading to the town of Phoenixville, PA. None of the guests have been announced yet, but past fests have seen everyone from Chris Yeaworth, son of The Blob‘s director Shorty Yeaworth, to actor and make up artist extrordinaire Tom Savini.
For a look at past BlobFests and on the movie itself, head over to our sister site, The Blob Site.
Posted on 28 December 2008 by Rich Drees
Ann Savage, best known for role as the femme fatale in the 1945 film noir classic Detour, has passed away on Christmas Day. She was 87.
Savage died in her sleep from complications following a series of strokes.
Born Bernice Maxine Lyon in Columbia, South Carolina on February 19, 1921, Savage’s father passed away when she was four. Moving with her mother to Los Angeles with her mother when hse was 10, she caught the acting bug wand started appearing in local theater productions. It was during a workshop production of Golden Boy that the then 22-year old Savage attracted the attention of a studio talent scout.
Upon being hired by Columbia Pictures, Savage was put into roles in a variety of b-pictures starting with One Dangerous Night (1943), an installment in the studio’s “Lone Wolf” detective series. She also made appearances in After Midnight With Boston Blackie (1943) and in comedies such as Two Senoritas From Chicago, Dangerous Blondes and Footlight Glamour (all 1943).
Savage played tough women in the noirs The Unwritten Code (1944), Apology For Murder (1945) and The Last Crooked Mile (1946).
But it was in 1945 when director Edgar G. Ulmer cast Savage as the cigarette-smoking Vera in Detour that she found the role for which she would be best remembered. In the film she memorably bullies tough guy musician Al Roberts (Tom Neal) into doing her bidding. When the film slipped into public domain and began airing on television, it soon sparked a critical reappraisal of the film. In 1992, Detour would become the first film noir to be named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. Detour also marked Savage’s fourth co-starring role opposite Neal- the three previous pairings being in Klondike Kate (1943), Two Man Submarine (1944) and The Unwritten Code.
Heading into the 1950s, Savage took only sporadic jobs, mostly in television. Last year, she made her final film appearance in Canadian director Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg.
Posted on 17 December 2008 by Rich Drees
For years, the thought of a sequel to the 1982 cult classic TRON was something that kept geeks warm on cold winter nights. Now that the project is finally going ahead, the thought of the first two new cast members for the film will also do the same.
Olivia Wilde and Beau Garrett, who previously shared the screen together in the horror flick Touristas, have been hired for TR2N. Both actresses will play denizerns of the cyberspace reality that exists inside a computer. The Hollywood Reporter states that Wilde “will play a worker in the virtual world who tries to help fight Master Control Program, the villainous intelligence protocol that was the nemesis in the original film,” while Garrett has been cast as “a siren in the virtual world.”
Jeff Bridges, star of the original TRON, has already signed for the sequel.
Interestingly, the Reporter‘s story refers to the film as TRON 2, not the more commonly used TR2N or even the recently mentioned TRZ, which was floated at the beginning of the month by Production Weekly.
Meanwhile, AintItCoolNews has an interesting report from an annonymous source that no matter what they call the film, audiences will be getting to see it in 3D, with the promise that “we are going to get a first person view from inside of a light cycle in the film.”
The 3D process is certainly being used by a lot of upcoming films. Much like the concerns I have raised about the increasing use of the IMAX process, I can only hope that the use of 3D in a film will be the help enhance the storytelling and not as just a cheap gimmick. Still, my geek heart beats a little faster at the thought of a 3D, first-person view of a light cycle race!
Posted on 09 December 2008 by Rich Drees
A friend of mine semi-cynically once observed that every movie, no matter how bad or undeserving, will eventually get a Special Edition DVD release.
Many people would say that Howard The Duck, the legendary 1986 misfire starring Leah Thompson opposite an animatronic wisecracking mallard, is pretty bad and undeserving of such treatment on digital media, but that hasn’t stopped Universal Studios from putting together a Special Edition package anyway.
For the fans that the film has managed to earn since its release, the DVD will deliver some decent bang for its $14.99 suggested retail price. Extras on the digitally remastered disc include a new 5.1 surround sound mix as well as the following featurettes-
“A Look Back at Howard the Duck”
“Releasing the Duck”
“The Stunts of Howard the Duck”
“The Special Effects of Howard the Duck”
“The Music of Howard the Duck”
I vividly remember seeing Howard The Duck on the closing Thursday night of its one week run the summer before my senior year of high school. There were only two other people in the auditorium. I don’t know if they were comic book fans like myself, but I do know that I was terribly disappointed that the film bore no resemblance to the characters that writer Steve Gerber had created for his landmark 1970s satirical series published by Marvel Comics. I’ve never really gone back and watched the film again, but I have to admit to being intrigued about revisiting it all these years later. We’ll all get our chance to do that when the DVD hits stores on March 10, 2009.
Posted on 12 November 2008 by Rich Drees
I’ve often been struck by the size of the cultural and artistic changes that the 1960s saw. The best way I’ve found to really get a grip on the enormity of those changes is to track the evolution of the music of the Beatles. In this day and age when musicians don’t seem or can’t be bothered to grow and experiment with their craft, the Beatles went from belting out covers of 1950s R&B tunes like “Twist And Shout” to the psychedelica of the Sgt. Peppers album to the mature introspection of their final album, Let It Be over the space of eight years years.
But not everybody was able to make the transition through that decade successfully. Some were limited by their talents, while others were limited by their audience’s perceptions of them. One of those in the latter group was the pop band, the Monkees. Commonly derided by their critics with the nickname “the Pre-Fab Four,” the quartet was put together to star in a TV show that producers hoped would cash in on the success of the Beatles popular film A Hard Day’s Night. But just two years after it premiered on NBC to phenomenal ratings and a string of hit singles, the Monkees were out of vogue, their shiny pop tunes out of step with the suddenly darker times America was in following the assassinations of Robert Kennedy Jr. and Martin Luther King.
The Monkees and the producers of their television series attempted to capture the changing mood in their film Head. Co-written by Jack Nicholson – yes, that Jack Nicholson – and featuring appearances from such people as Frank Zappa, Dennis Hopper, Annette Funicello, Victor Mature and boxer Sonny Liston, the movie would perplex critics and confuse the small number of people who actually made the trip to the theaters. With the movie a financial bomb, the Monkees soon went their separate ways until the mid-80s, when they were to reunite following the airing of their old series on a new cable network devoted to pop music- M-TV.
Now on the 40th anniversary of the release of Head, the Los Angeles Times has talked to Monkee members Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz about the film, what the band was trying to achieve with it and whether the film’s financial failure doesn’t necessarily equate to artistic success.
Posted on 23 October 2008 by Rich Drees
If The Producers didn’t fill your need for on-stage singing and dancing Nazis, then prepare yourself for an upcoming sci-fi musical comedy stage adaptation of the 1963 camp film They Saved Hitler’s Brain.
The upcoming show is being produced by Mark Altman and Chris Wyatt. Jon and Al Kaplan, who wrote the Off-Broadway spoofs Silence! Silence Of The Lambs: The Musical and 24: Season 2: The Musical will be writing the show’s book and songs.
The announcement in Variety doesn’t state where the show will debut, but given the Kaplan’s past stage works, it feels safe to say that Hitler’s Brain will be an Off-Broadway production.
Wyatt is perhaps best known as the producer of the 2004 comedy Napoleon Dynamite. Altman is no stranger to geek and genre projects. The former editor of the late, lamented Sci-Fi Universe Magazine has produced the films Free Enterprise, D.O.A.: Dead On Arrival and House Of The Dead. He is also currently developing a remake of the 1983 teen comedy My Tutor.
They Saved Hitler’s Brain was originally released to theaters under the title Madmen Of Mandoras and told the story of a scientist and his daughter who are kidnapped to an island in the Caribbean where Nazi scientists have Hitler’s head preserved in a jar in the hopes of launching a Fourth Reich. Because if you’re going to launch a bid for world domination, why not do it from the comfort of a tropical island? The film didn’t acquire its more lurid title until it started appearing on television in the 1970s.
While this could turn out to be a campy good time, I have to wonder how active the show’s titular character will be. With just his head existing in a glass jar through the entire story, I don’t think Hitler will be participating in too many dance numbers…
Posted on 22 October 2008 by Rich Drees
Oh, Sam Raimi. Why must you taunt me so?
I’ve long been a fan of the director’s work since I first saw Evil Dead 2 in college in 1988. His unique and energetic visual style places him as one of the very few directors whose work can be distinquished by just watching a few moments of one of his films. Also, in conjunction with his longtime friend actor Bruce Campbell, he has created one of the great cult classic film franchises- the Evil Dead series.
Now, according to this interview, it seems that any planning Raimi had hoped to do for an announced fourth Evil Dead installment with his screenwriting collaborator brother Ivan Raimi has been pushed aside in finishing up his current horror film, Drag Me To Hell.
I read this article online that [referred to those Comic-Con quotes] and was like, ‘Raimi promises again. He’s not going to deliver’. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, you guys know me so well.’ I’m honored some people want to see it, and I’d like to do it, and one day I will. I just don’t know when.
Unfortunately, after Raimi finishes work on Drag Me To Hell, he will probably launch into his preperation for the next two Spider-Man movies that Sony wants. This is sure to gobble up two to three years of his time. He also still has that development deal with Paramount for relaunching their Jack Ryan franchise. Hopes for seeing an Evil Dead 4 anytime in the next five years seem pretty dim.