The 3D juggernaut continues to roll on, fueled by studio execs with dollar signs in their eyes.
The latest film to be getting the treatment is The Ring 3D, a second sequel to the 2002 English adaptation of the 1998 Japanese film about a cursed video tape that kills anyone who views it within a week. Although I found the original Japanese version a better film than the Naomi Watts-starring Hollywood version, but it managed to thrill audiences to the tune of $129 million at the box office. That kind of money sparked a wave of English-language remakes of Japanese horror films, most of them substandard to their foreign originals. Although its 2005 sequel, The Ring Two, managed to still pull a respectable $76 million in ticket sales, the wave had burnt itself out and no one has really been clamoring too loudly for a third Ring movie in the intervening years.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film’s storyline is still being kept secret but will “reinvent the franchise” and be “more teen-centric than the first.” Dream House writer David Loucka has been hired to script the film.
And while audiences may or may not have moved on from the Ring films, technology certainly has. Video tape is disappearing fairly fast from American’s homes as the medium of choice for recording television programs and home movies in favor of DVRs and other digital mediums. I have to wonder if the idea of a cursed video tape will not seem anything but quaint in this upcoming movie.
Variety is reporting that Sony has closed a deal with Zombieland producer Gavin Polone and director Ruben Fleischer to develop a sequel to this fall’s comedy/horror sleeper hit. The trade quotes Polone being enthusiastic about the 3D process, saying “I don’t think you want to see Ordinary People in 3-D. But Zombieland is clearly one movie that will benefit from (the technique).”
Zombieland was a surprise hit, pulling in over $75 million at the US box office, more than three times its budget. Naturally, Sony would want a sequel and hopefully, the filmmakers have some interesting ideas that they want to develop this time around. We never did learn all of Columbus’s (Jesse Eisenberg) rules for surviving in Zombieland. And while I really enjoyed the first film, I hope that the crew can come up with a story that has works on the emotional and character levels that the first story did.
In August 2005, we presented a piece in which Jason Miller talked about his star making role in William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. With Halloween coming at the end of the week, we re-present it to you today.
“There’s two ways to look at The Exorcist,” stated actor Jason Miller who portrayed Father Karras in the horror classic. It is September 2000, and Miller is speaking about the film during a workshop at the Pennsylvania Film Festival being held in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “One way is that he [Father Karras] gives his own life to save the girl. He jumps out the window and Satan has been thwarted. The other way is that if Satan really wanted the two priests, and he was just using the girl as the instrument, he’s up by seven points. That’s why the theologians got a little crazy about it. Because when the start looking at it at that level they said, ‘Wait a minute. What kind of picture is this guy making?’ It’s that existential ambiguity that makes it go. You don’t have that in movies anymore.”
It’s no surprise that the script’s powerful and ambiguous ending intrigued Miller. Growing up in Scranton, he attended Catholic high school and graduated from the Jesuit-run University of Scranton. It was this background that attracted Exorcist director William Friedkin to the idea of casting Miller in the role of Father Karras, following seeing the actor in the Broadway production of the Miller-penned play That Championship Season.
“My picture’s in the program and there’s a whole lot of stuff about Jesuit schools in Championship Season and he had a hunch,” Miller recalled. “He said ‘Do you want to go on a screen test?’ I thought I was dreaming. I went out and did a screen test and the rest is history.”
Miller faced some stiff competition for the role. Warner Brothers, the studio bankrolling the film, was pushing for an actor with star power for the role. Jack Nicholson and Ryan O’Neill had already tested for the role of Father Karras. But the fact that Miller wasn’t a big film star ultimately played to his advantage.
“They [the producers] preferred an unknown because they wanted the story to be the star,” he said. “They had to convince the powers that be at the studio and that was quite a bit of salesmanship.
“The Exorcist had 56 weeks on the [New York] Times best seller list. They didn’t really need a star, they had a built in audience. Fifty-six weeks for a book on the best seller list means there’s an enormous amount of people reading that book, which means an enormous amount of people are going to go see that movie. They also don’t want people to say ‘Wasn’t Jack Nicholson great?’ They want someone like me with no face at all to lend a sense of honesty and truth to the character. They didn’t want people to go see the movie because of Jack Nicholson. They felt they didn’t need Jack Nicholson because the movie itself was strong enough, if they cast it right, which they did all the way around. Ellen Burstyn was terrific. Lee J. Cobb hadn’t worked for years and he’s a great, great actor. Max Von Sydow was known as a European star. The story was the star. And the director, Friedkin was at the top of his game. He was just coming off The French Connection.”
Over his career, Friedkin would develop something of a reputation for his unorthodox directing methods, which Miller confirmed. “Friedkin’s a lunatic,” he recalled with a chuckle. “He’d shoot guns off behind [an actor's] head to get a surprise out of them. He’s not very respectful to actors. He’s afraid of them. He doesn’t understand the process.”
It didn’t help that Miller’s stage training didn’t prepare him for the decidedly different process of filmmaking.
“I had never acted in a movie before,” he stated. “It was quite different. On stage, we have to project. In the movies you read your lines like you’re talking on the phone. That’s the only real discipline I gave myself.”
“I love rehearsals. [But in film,] you don’t get rehearsal. They want to catch spontaneity. They love spontaneity. A lot of time spontaneity can be dreadful. Being a theater person, I like rehearsal because you can discover things. I’ll tell you this, if you get a guy who is great in the movies and get him on stage with you, they’re out of the building. They don’t have the concentration and the stamina to go the two hours, nor the technique. Let’s face it, in any good movie the most movie acting will be a long shot, two minutes than cut. And you’ll do that scene maybe fifteen, sixteen times. Most actors in movies, in the wide shots and the long shots will just be [waves hand dismissively]. Once the close ups start coming, then you start to see their acting and their talent.
“I insisted that we rehearsed the night before. Lee J Cobb liked the rehearsal because he’s a stage guy. Ellen Burnstyn liked the rehearsal because she was a stage girl. We’d go grab a beer after the day’s shoot and then go rehearse for about an hour.”
It was out of one these rehearsal sessions that Miller found a way to help refine his character’s climactic scene.
“What they wanted me to do was walk over to the window, say this very lyrical prayer, and then jump out the window,” Miller recalled. “I went in and said ‘The devil is already in him’ and they said ‘Well, how are you going to show that?’ Well, he’s lost any idea that this is a human being. To him that little girl is the devil. That’s the way he sees it. And so I said ‘I’ll show you what I want to do.’ We go in and she starts to laugh, so I went over and I rip the place to pieces and said ‘That’s what he’s really feeling.’ Otherwise me walking to window and saying ‘Oh save my soul’ and all that kind of stuff is melodramatic.”
Released on December 26, 1973, The Exorcist would become a sensation, scaring viewers around the world and would go on to become the decade’s fifth highest grossing film. Such revenues insured that it would spawn two sequels and a recently released prequel as well as numerous imitators. Even though Miller’s character died at the end of The Exorcist, that certainly didn’t stop him from appearing in one of its sequels.
“I did [Part] 3,” Miller recalled. “I didn’t see the second one, the Richard Burton one. Blatty and Friedkin weren’t involved with that. They had sold the sequel rights. They didn’t care. Part 3 wasn’t a bad film, but they weren’t going to be able to top the first one.”
“It is weird to go make a classic film right out of the box,” mused Miller on the success of his first Hollywood venture. Even though Miller went on to appear in numerous other film and television productions, including the college football drama Rudy (1993) and directing a film adaptation of his play That Championship Season shot on location in his adopted hometown of Scranton, it’s his first role that Miller is best remembered for. Although the past three decades have elevated The Exorcist to the status of a classic horror film, Miller felt that the film transcends its genre categorization. “I think The Exorcist in someway is not a genre horror film. It’s something else. It’s more of a philosophical horror film.”
A portion of this interview was previously published in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader on October 13, 2000.
It looks as if no sooner has the Weinstein Company/Dimension announced plans for a third installment of their revitalized Halloween franchise, in 3D no less, than they’ve put those plans on hold.
According to Deadline Hollywood, the Weinstein Company only saw the first draft of the Halloween 3D script this past Friday, but had been planning on starting production on the film in November for a Summer 2010 release. The start date is unmovable due to director Patrick Lussier’s commit to start shooting Drive Angry in January. Reportedly, the decision came from Bob Weinstein, the more business oriented of the Weinstein Brothers, who felt that the current schedule would be rushing things too quickly.The new plan is too wait until Lussier is finished with Drive Angry before heading to Shreveport, LA to lens Halloween 3D.
Of course, there are rumors floating around that Summit Entertainment, with its pockets burning with Twilight cash, is looking to acquire some assets and that the recently floundering Weinstein Company may be in its sights. Could these two stories be related?
In the meantime, Weinstein will be doing a quick re-release of Halloween 2 at the end of October for the Halloween weekend to pick up a bit more quick cash. The film has already pulled $32 million at the box office, more than double its $15 million budget.
1. Up (Disney, 3,766 Theaters, 96 Minutes, Rated PG): One of the most amazing things about Pixar, at least in the past few years, is that they can take concepts that don’t seem that they would be all that good on paper and make financial and critical successes out of them.
I mean, a film where a stock car given human qualities is treated like an athlete is placed in a Doc Hollywood like plot doesn’t sound great, but Cars was a great success. A rat who want to be a cook sounds somewhat gross, but Ratatouille was charming and sweet. And a film with small amounts of dialogue with a scurvy robot as the lead might not seem like it would work, but Wall*E was awesome on all levels.
This time, they are dealing with a curmudgeon who ties balloons to his house in a ploy to visit South America, but complications ensue when he discovers a stowaway on board. It seems like there would be no way they could make a good movie out of this concept. But I’m sure that it will be one of the best films of the summer.
2. Drag Me To Hell (Universal, 2,508 Theaters, 99 Minutes, Rated PG-13): I kinda view Sam Raimi returning to horror the same way I would view Tom Hanks returning to a weekly TV sitcom. Yes, it would rock, but how can it not be viewed as a step backwards?
Raimi, of course, got his start on the Evil Dead films. But from that start has become a director at home with dramas that get Oscar Buzz (A Simple Plan) and your big-budget blockbuster (Spider-Man). Surely he is such a master of horror that this film will be chock full of scares even with a PG-13 rating, but a relatively low-budget horror film at this stage of his career seems out of place.
The film is about a young woman named Christine who is held back getting a promotion at a bank because she’s too nice. She tries to fix this perception by evicting an old lady from her home. Too bad the old lady is a witch who places a curse on her. If the curse isn’t broken in three days, she will be, well, dragged to hell.
If you’re a classic horror fan you only havejust a few days left to vote for the Seventh Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.
If you don’t know what the Rondo Awards are, you might have to question how big a classic horror film fan you really are.
Named and modeled after genre actor Rondo Hatton, the Rondos are the brainchild of David Colton and Kerry Gammill of the Classic Horror Film Boards. Voted on by fans rather than given out by some industry organization, the Rondos are a great indication of what the fan community is thinking rather than being a backslapping industry affair.
In addition to the categories for best film and television productions, there are numerous other categories that cover best DVD releases and restorations, magazines, blogs and websites and scholarly articles written on the genre. There are also a few categories to cover various fan events. (And may I for a moment lobby you to vote for BlobFest’s movie theater panic reenactment in this category.)
Cast your votes here. But hurry, the deadline is midnight Saturday night.
Well, he hasn’t started filming yet, and Malcolm MacDowell is not signed on to reprise his role as Dr. Loomis, but Rob Zombie already has a release date and a teaser poster (click for larger version) for his sequel to his 2007 remake of the horror classic Halloween. While he is reportedly set to start rolling cameras in just a few weeks, Zombie is cutting things alwfully close. And that’s not even factoring in any delay in getting MacDowell back or possibly recasting the role.
While I’m not a big slasher movie fan, I am interested in what Zombie will do with this film. I found his take on John Carpenter’s classic a bit mixed. On one hand, he wanted to admirably strike out in his own direction, analyzing the forces that created the Michael Myers we know from the film series. But that material didn’t sit well next to his numerous homages to Carpenter’s original film.
So the question is whether Zombie will be striking out on his own direction completely, or will he still feel beholden to deliver winks and nods to what has gone before?
Defiance(Paramount Vantage, 1,789 theaters, 137 minutes, Rated R): Expanding from its NY, LA new year’s eve opening, this film gets a wider release this week. And thank goodness for it, because it adds a bit of class to what would have been an otherwise awful week.
Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell star in the true story of three Jewish brothers who escaped Poland and joined up with resistance fighters in Belarus. There, they established a haven of sorts and ended up saving the lives of over 1,000 Jews by they time the war ended.
So, while the previews make it look like “James Bond fights the Nazis,” it really is an inspiring true story of some real life heroes. Just saying that to all of those out there expecting Bond 24 from this film.
Hotel For Dogs(Paramount, 3,271 theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG): When Nancy Drew came out, it seemed like Emma Roberts might have a long and successful career ahead of her. But after this film, her career might look more like father Eric’s than aunt Julia’s.
But she really shouldn’t feel too bad. Oscar nominee Don Cheadle and Emmy winner Lisa Kudrow are putting their careers on the line too, in a movie with a premise so stupid that it makes Paul Blart, Mall Cop look like some of William Shakespeare’s better works.
The plot involves a pair of orphans opening a hotel for stray dogs in an abandon building in their neighborhood.
I mean, the legal implications of this action boggle the mind. I’m not going to go too much into it, because, frankly, I have better things to do with my time and am not willing to suffer the massive headache I would surely get if I thought about this film for more than five seconds, but, for this movie to work, the main characters have to break at least 50 different state, county and local laws. Yay Family Fun!
My Bloody Valentine 3-D(Lionsgate, 2,534 theaters, 101 Minutes, Rated R):You have to admire any film which features a tagline like “nothing says ‘date movie’ like a 3D ride to Hell!” Because, really, there is a lot of truth in that statement, although not for the reasons the producers intended.
This is the latest in a long line of remakes of “classic” horror films, although, this time, the original didn’t star Jamie Lee Curtis. It looks like they might be running out of horror films to remake. Will Hollywood circle back around again, or will we be seeing a I Spit On Your Grave remake in the near future?
The plot focuses on a man returning to his hometown on the anniversary of a round of vicious slayings only to be considered a prime suspect. His case isn’t helped by the killings starting up again as soon as he hits town. Now, he and his woman-in-peril girlfriend have to get to the bottom of things before it is too late.
Fans of new technology might be interested in the revolutionary 3-D process on display in this film. If you believe experts like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, one day every movie will be shot in this process. Of course, technophiles with week stomachs should probably wait until the process is perfect a bit more before checking it out.
Notorious(Fox Searchlight, 1,637 theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated R):The life of Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Chistopher Wallace) could fill up a whole cineplex with movies.
You have the underdog story of a kid from the streets rapping his way to superstardom. You could build a story around his relationship with Puff Daddy and Faith Evans. You could focus on his role in the whole west coast/east coast rap rivalry. And the mystery surrounding his murder, as yet to be solved, could be examined with a number of films.
So, the question is, which of these movies will Notorious be? WIll it focus on his brief career and the impact he made on music? Or will it try to squeeze all aspects of Biggie’s life into 100 minutes? And will it shy away from the rumored dark aspects of his life? We’ll see on Friday.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop(Sony/Columbia, 3,144 theaters, 87 Minutes, Rated PG): Ah, the mall security guard. The mock-worthy exemplar of power corrupting, no matter how useless the power is.
It’s easy to poke fun on mall cops, and the stereotype that they take their meager responsibilities much to seriously. The idea that these guards think stopping shoplifters from stealing from the Hallmark store is equivalent to busting drug dealers or hunting down mass murderers is easy to laugh about.
This film plays into this in what I think is a novel way. Paul Blart is a mall cop faced with a situation his is completely unprepared for–an armed takeover of the mall. What’s more, he’s knows he’s in over his head. But he has to find a way to beat the bad guys because that is if not his duty, then at least his job.
Yes, the film itself might only rise to the level of a harmless piffle, but at least the premise shows some wit.
Neil Marshall’s smart 2005 horror film, The Descent, still ranks as one of the better genre offerings over the past several years.Not content to just place its characters in jeopardy, Marshall actually fleshed out his group of female spelunkers who get lost in some underground caverns only to discover that they are not alone in the dark. Of course, since it turned out to be a minor hit for the studio, British studio Celador Films is in the process of bringing us a sequel. Of course, this new film will spin off the ending of the American version, not the slightly longer, and better, original British ending.
SlahsFilm has the first pictures from the film, which we’ve placed for your ease and convienance, in the gallery below. The storyline of the sequel has Sarah (Shauna MacDonald), the only survivor of the previous expedition, being forced to accompany a rescue party back into the Appalachian cave system to attempt to find her friends whom the authorities presume are simply missing. Anyone familiar with how the British edit of the movie ended will probably see what is wrong with that premise.
Oddly enough, the film still has no US premier date but will hit theaters in the UK on May 15th.
It seems that I spend an inordinate amount of time reporting on planned remakes of classic films. It is therefore with great pleasure that I get to tell you about a remake project that has been abandoned.
The planned redo of Rosemary’s Baby, from remake-centric studio Platinum Dunes, has been cancelled. As producer Brad Fueller tells Collider,”We even talked to the best writers in town and it feels like it might not be do-able. We couldn’t come up with something where it felt like it was relevant and we could add something to it other than what it was so we’re now not going to be doing that film.”
Fueller also indicated that their in development remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s eco-thriller The Birds, for which director Martin Campbell is currently working on a script, may also be canceled if a new story angle can’t be found for the material. “So that’s not a movie that we’re just going to step up and just go have birds attacking people and trying to throw that into the box office. If we can’t make that movie unique or add something to it, I don’t think we’re going to make it.”
Could this be the beginning of a new trend in Hollywood, moving away from trying to turn a buck through bastardizing a classic film and instead actually show some restraint when it comes to remaking films? As much I would like to think so, I am not holding my breath.