‘Saw’ back in theaters this Halloween

This Halloween, Lionsgate will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the theatrical release of “Saw”, the film that kicked off the most successful horror franchise in history, by bringing it back to theaters nationwide for one week only. The film will open on Friday, October 31st, with select screenings beginning Thursday night, October 30th. The seven “Saw” films grossed $874 million at the box office worldwide and were hailed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Most Successful Horror Franchise” of all time.
“The launch of SAW was a signature event in Lionsgate’s history, establishing our first franchise and paving the way for our growth into a global studio,” said Lionsgate President of Acquisitions & Co-Productions Jason Constantine. “We are excited for our fans to revisit the twisted magic that first blew their minds on Halloween 2004.”
“As part of ‘Saw’s’ 10th anniversary, we’re thrilled to give new fans and audiences the opportunity to experience this film on the big screen for the very first time,” added “Saw’s” producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg.
“Saw” was the first collaboration for co-creators James Wan, who directed the film, and Leigh Whannell, who wrote the screenplay. Together, they also created the successful “Insidious” franchise, and Wan has gone on to direct such high-profile films as “The Conjuring” and the upcoming “Fast and Furious 7.”
Directed by Wan from a script penned by Whannell, SAW is a psychological thriller focusing on two men who wake up in a secure lair of a serial killer, with a dead body lying between them. The killer, nicknamed “Jigsaw,” leaves them tape recorded messages with details of how to make it out alive. The only way for one man to make it out alive is to do the unthinkable. The two men desperately try to find a way out, while also trying to figure out who’s behind their kidnapping. The film, which was released over Halloween weekend on October 29, 2004, was produced by Gregg Hoffman, Oren Koules, and Mark Burg.
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Will ‘The Pyramid’ be just another Mummy movie?

Movies that go underground make me claustrophobic, and there seems to be an awful lot of them lately. “The Pyramid” throws in some Egyptian mythology and old-fashioned curses to up the ante, with results that look pretty scary, at least in the trailer.

The ancient wonders of the world have long cursed explorers who’ve dared to uncover their secrets. But a team of U.S. archaeologists gets more than they bargained for when they discover a lost pyramid unlike any other in the Egyptian desert. As they unlock the horrific secrets buried within, they realize they aren’t just trapped, they are being hunted.

The film is scheduled for a December 5th release and check out the first official trailer below! What do you think? Will it be scary?

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‘Wer’ redefines the werewolf genre


It’s so hard to find — and presumably make– a good werewolf movie. It’s certainly one of the most complex creatures to create realistically, with a varying rate of success in the past and present. For instance, you have the classic “American Werewolf in London” where the werewolf effects were done the old-fashioned way with animatronics, with a very good result, at least for it’s time. But looking back at it now, it’s obviously dated in the special effects department and with our 21st-century eyes, we see how unrealistic it is. On the other hand, you have the full-blown CGI werewolves like those in the “Underworld” series, where the CGI can pass in those fast-paced sequences where we can’t look at it too close, but under any kind of close scrutiny of pure CGI, any realism crumbles.

Enter one of the latest installments of the werewolf genre in “Wer.”

This film shows a third option, combining special-effects makeup with motion special-effects and a real-life disease to create a more realistic Wolfman for the modern day. In “Wer,” the filmmakers linked becoming a werewolf to the very real disease of porphyria, and kept their beasts in a primary manlike state. Hey, I love the hairy beasts just as much as anybody, but I have to say this approach was refreshing. And when done well, it was very creepy.

(Spoilers ahead.)

The premise of the film opens with the brutal murders of American tourists in France. If you’re starting to think of “An American Werewolf in Paris,” you’re going down the wrong track. The film delves into the murder investigation as the primary suspect is about to be put on trial, defended by an American expatriate lawyer named Kate Moore (A J Cook). With her support team of Eric Sarin (Vik Sahay) and Gavin Flemyng (Simon Quarterman), Kate is determined to defend the brutish, hairy man accused of the crimes, and is convinced of his innocence. In fact, she is convinced that local investigator Klaus Pistor (Sebastian Roche) is part of a local conspiracy to take over his family homestead for a profitable development proposal.

As often happens in horror films, those with the best of intentions have a way of unleashing hell on everyone, and unfortunately for the locals, that’s no exception in this film. What does that this film apart from other werewolf movies is the convincing way they presented porphyria as a plausible explanation for the condition, although some of their science is fictional, to put it mildly. In other words, you cannot get poorer for it by being bitten by someone who hasn’t, just for the record. But just go with it for the movie’s sake. Hey, it’s fiction.

The use of special-effects with the way characters move has become a bit of a cliché, but it’s pretty effective in this film. Quite honestly, the appearance of the werewolf in this movie when he wasn’t attacking wasn’t that frightening to me. The jerky, seizure-like movements definitely enhanced the fear as did the gore. And make no mistake, there are some very gruesome moments in this movie. On the other hand, the second werewolf that comes along creates an appearance that is quite chilling. And kudos to the actor portraying that role, who I won’t name here for spoiler purposes. As he shaved his head and body during his transformation — creating an interesting opposite to the Talan (Brian Scott O’Connor) character — I felt that was the most chilling moment of the movie.

The performances are fine, and director William Brent Bell redeemed himself from the awful ending of “The Devil Inside,” his last turn at the helm of the horror film. There are some irritating plot missteps, such as the previously mentioned scientific flaws, and some stretches of the imagination. That’s local police would allow an attorney and her team on site while they were doing a manhunt, plus the old cliché of their idealistic lawyer insisting that her clients, who has been accused of horrific violent crimes be taken out of his handcuffs while she speaks with him. Pretty far-fetched to believe either of these situations would actually happen. But overall, “Wer” Is an unusual and refreshing take on the werewolf mythology if you’re up for trying something a little bit different.

 

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‘Oculus’ is one big ball of (creepy) confusion

Haunted mirrors with evil spirits can be very creepy, as can watching someone break down into mental illness and violence. If presented in a simple, straightforward way, it’s effective, but some of the great disturbing moments of “Oculus” get muddied up in whiplash-causing cuts between past and present in rapid succession. It’s hard to stay in the moment when you’re trying to figure what the hell is going on.

Now that I think about it, “Insidious 2” also falls into the same trap of mixing past and present and confusing viewers, or least some of us. Dear filmmakers, this does not create suspense. I kept finding myself getting frustrated with the inability to just get a straightforward timeline and story of what was going on. It’s almost as if some films don’t have enough confidence to just rely on their story without the gimmicks of intercutting between past and present to try to make the story more complex.

Sometimes simple is better. Sometimes simple is actually great.

There’s no shortage of scary moments in this movie, particularly the mirror effect of the eyes. Although it did strike me as being very similar to that first “Salem’s Lot” movie with David Soul, where the vampires had that same glint in their eye. add to that , having mommy dearest chained up like a dog in the bedroom because she’s losing her mind, and you’ve got some pretty damn scary stuff, indeed.

But then if you mix in some plot holes — which to be fair, almost any horror movie has to some extent — you start to water-down the fear factor and that, combined with confusing elements takes you out of the story while you’re lagging behind asking yourself basic questions. Why didn’t the mirror effect the kids when they were younger like it affected mom and dad? Why did it wait till the present to have an effect on them? Why did it seem to create the need for violence in mom and dad, but just cause confusion about time and place for the kids in the present?

I’m still so perplexed by what the plot was that I can barely put the confusion I felt into words. I just know that if I was in a cartoon, there would have been a big “WTF?” floating over my head for most of the second half of the movie.

Also, recognize the difference between foreshadowing and giving away your ending. Now I admit, as someone who has dabbled in creative writing, I’m pretty good at seeing foreshadowing that other people miss. But this movie went way beyond foreshadowing, completely giving away the ending to me. I won’t say exactly how in case you actually haven’t seen this movie yet, but it doesn’t take a genius to see where one of the main character’s fate lies.

There are a lot of great positive things I can say about the film in terms of atmosphere, mood, creepiness, but when all is said and done, I just feel like I’m caught up in one big creepy ball of confusion. And that’s not a satisfying ending, even for a gal who hates happy endings like me.

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‘Crawl or Die’: Just the trailer will make you feel claustrophobic

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Earth as we know it is gone. A virus has destroyed the planet and rendered all its women infertile, all but one. An elite team of soldiers are tasked with bringing the woman to safety on the newly habitable Earth Two. But when they are forced underground they find themselves fighting for survival from an bloodthirsty creature in a maze of ever shrinking tunnels. As the team’s ranks start to dwindle, the tunnels shrink and the ammunition run out, the crawl for survival becomes more and more desperate.

I don’t know about you, but I get claustrophobic when I see someone put in the trunk of a car in a movie. I think I’d rather someone just kill me than that, and don’t even get me started when I see someone buried alive. So for me, and all the other small space challenged like me, this is going to be one nightmare of a movie.

I hope this girl in “Crawl or Die” was paid well to crawl into those spaces, as well as the camera crew. Check out the trailer below, and a special nod to the female power behind this film, as Nicole Alonso is also a producer of the film.

‘The Strain’: Guillermo del Toro brings gore and vampires to TV

THE STRAIN — Pictured: Cory Stoll as Ephraim Goodweather. CR. Michael Gibson/FX.

One of FX’s hallmark shows is “American Horror Story,” it’s genre-breaking foray into horror. But the network has brought on the next phase of dark drama in its new series “The Strain,” focusing on modern vampires. Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse have taken on the challenge of bringing Chuck Hogan and del Toro’s novels to television, and the pair sat down in a media conference call to talk about the upcoming series, and express a lot of love to FX networks for giving them such freedom on the show.

“I will say that this show really represents my and Guillermo’s version of the story,” Cuse said. “It’s really unadulterated. I mean, yes, sure, we can’t drop F-bombs, but that’s about it.”

He also noted that the show will not run indefinitely, and even from the beginning, they pitched the series to run a set number of seasons, so it can have a definitive ending and story arc.

“The plan is that the show will run somewhere between three and five seasons, and as we work out the mythology and the storytelling for Season 2, we’ll have a better idea of exactly how long our journey is going to be,” said Cuse. “But it won’t be more than five seasons. We’re definitely writing to an endpoint, and we’re following the path as established in Guillermo and Chuck’s novels. But obviously there’s a lot that’s also going to be added…

“And I think that the goal is not to literally translate the book into a television show. You want to take the book as a source of inspiration and then make the best possible television show that you can make.”

Now if you think that creating a television series means the show won’t be scary enough or will go light on the violence and gore elements, think again. Del Toro likened drawing the line in the sand between not enough and too much to holding his audience captive in the literal sense.

It’s almost like a hostage situation, where you need to show an audience that you’re not kidding, you know?” he said. “You have to show you are going to deliver either by atmospheric, creepy moments, or by visceral punch, hopefully both. You’re going to be able to deliver the goods, the things that will make you feel queasy, will make you feel unsafe, will bring this delightful shiver that is required with the genre.

Despite the large number of horror and true crime shows on TV, it seems the public always craves more and can’t get enough of monsters, horror and death in media. Del Toro thinks that drive harkens back to primitive urges.

“From my end, what I think is very apparent is that we’ve come to the point where socially, as we are mammalian creatures, we are territorial, we are built to fight and fend off territorial challenges, reproduce, and sit a sedentary life, you know, ultimately that’s the way we’re socially and animalistically geared,” said del Toro. “And yet we live in a society that the more it isolates itself from its natural instincts, the more it seeks them in entertainment. And I think there is a vicarious thrill your brain needs, the way your body needs the exercise in a way, your brain needs to be exposed to flight and fight instincts, and you seek it through a roller coaster, or some people seek it through extreme sports, or you can seek it in genres like noir crime, horror, adventure, etc. It’s literally a biochemical mammalian biofeedback with how we are constructed to organize the storytelling in our lives, I think.”

“I completely agree with everything that Guillermo said,” added Cuse, “Although I don’t discount that some reptiles will also like the show.”

“The Strain” airs Sunday nights on FX at 10 p.m. ET.