Thursday, December 31, 2009

25 Screams (part ii)


20. Constantine

Angels, Demons and a man caught in the middle. This supernatural-actioner was unfortunately more style than substance, but nevertheless entertaining.


19. Skeleton Key

Solid thriller about a hospice nurse who begins to suspect that her patient is the target of supernatural shenanigans -- almost wore out its welcome with some bump-in-the-night clichés. It kind of plays out like an extended Twilight Zone episode with a nice twist at the end. Excellent incorporation of American folklore.


18. Nightwatch

Cool Russian import about warring factions of supernatural beings. A little hard to follow at times, but visually a treat.

17. Blade II

Some of the effects are dated and it doesn't quite match the intensity of the original, but this Guillermo Del Toro helmed sequel holds its own as the Daywalker reluctantly teams up with the Vampire Nation in order to deal with an even bigger threat.

16. Resident Evil

Haven't you heard? Women can't open movies. Apparently, neither has Milla Jovovich, because she was busy finishing the fourth installment of this popular video game adaptation -- one of the few successful video game adaptations. No deep story here. Decent build up though. Kill or be killed. Throw in Michelle Rodriguez's scowl and you've got a party.

(more to come...)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

25 Screams

I think it's pretty safe to say that I'm the only person on the net who came up with a list of the Best Horror Films of the last decade. Originality, that's me! Why twenty-five? I wanted to go with ten, but there were just too many good films, especially the imports. Foreign Horror stepped its game up, while Hollywood was mostly content to remake.

I've never cared much for slasher flicks and torture porn, so don't be surprised by their omission. Even with twenty-five slots, it was still a difficult task -- I'm sure that I've still managed to miss a gem or two. Anyway, without further delay, I present the first installment: (25-21)


25. The Ring (remake)

Part of the first wave of Asian Horror remakes to hit American theaters. It was spooky, atmospheric and had one hell of a hook.


24. The Eye (original)

Better than The Ring in my opinion, the remake with Jessica Alba was huge letdown. The concept of "haunted" organ transplants is nothing new, but this South Korean film has some interesting twists along the way.


23. Brotherhood of the Wolf

Christophe Gans directed this stylish French action-horror flick about two men pursuing a murderous beast on the rampage. Part legend, part speculation, this is all fun. And anything with Monica Bellucci instantly increases its watchability.


22. Blood: The Last Vampire

I love the art, but often find anime characters and stories to be somewhat... lacking -- no, boring. Not the case here. A slick, little film that runs under an hour about a mysterious girl who hunts vampiric creatures. Ignore the awful live-action adaptation from earlier this year. See this instead.


21. Ginger Snaps

Effective low-budget Canadian horror about a teen female lycanthrope. Puts Wes Craven's bloated and over-cooked Cursed to shame.

(more to come...)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Near Dark



Haven't seen this in ages, but I stumbled across it on IFC last week. First, I have to say, the trailer is god-awful, but surprisingly, the film still holds up -- save for some cheesy 80s synth music. Near Dark suffers the unfortunate fate of being overshadowed by that *other* vampire flick released earlier in 1987, The Lost Boys. Who could compete with the power of The Coreys back then?! The similar boy-meets-alluring-girl plot didn't help matters either. But once you get past that, there's a much more compelling story here. One uninterested in slick special effects or romanticizing vampirism. They're desperate, immortal junkies who sleep during the day, on the move at night, looking for their next fix. Their drug of choice just happens to be the blood of some poor, unfortunate soul. The vampires in Near Dark don't sparkle in sunlight, they catch fire and burn.


Really strong cast here. Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton are the standouts.

Kathryn Bigelow's gritty and unpleasant take on bloodsuckers was a turn-off to moviegoers looking for cool escapism. Grossed a little over $3 million at the box office. 30 Days of Night tried the same feral vampire route and had some modest success, but audiences (tween girls) went gaga for the sparkly stuff. If you didn't know, there's a remake in the works... *shudder*

I've written scripts with ghosts, werewolves, zombies, etc. but nothing with vampires. Guess it goes on 2010 to-do list -- just what Hollywood's looking for, another vampire spec script!

Now I have to pick up the 2 disc DVD for Bigelow's commentary and the making-of documentary. Probably gonna check out The Hurt Locker as well...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thoughts on Franklyn


Been busy doing (attempting) screenwritery stuff, but I found time to throw up a few thoughts on one of the most challenging films ever to cross the path of marketing department, Franklyn. It's not hard to see why this wasn't released theatrically in the States. A weird hybrid with many masters: fantasy, quirky indie romance, psychological thriller, etc. I'm not even going to try explaining the plot. I will say that the one sheets play up fantasy element far too much. They look cool, but totally misrepresent the film. Nice character-driven, low-budget story. Don't pop in the DVD and expect to see a Stardust meets Edward Scissorhands fantasy/romance with elaborate sets and flashy effects.



Thursday, December 10, 2009

Listen Up!

Remember when I trashed Jumper (film, not the script) a while back? Well, here's an excellent podcast from Creative Screenwriting Magazine with its co-writers, Simon Kinberg and Jim Uhls. It's fascinating to hear about all the changes the story went through. Quite a bit can happen to a script from sale to shoot (I owe them a huge apology) -- kind of ties into the recent debate that's set the scribosphere ablaze.


Geek Syndicate has a great interview with Howard Overman, the creator of the Heroish UK series, Mifits. Even though it's not yet available in the States, there's an online graphic novel that you can check out here.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Write on!

Two weeks since my last post?! I almost feel like apologizing. A couple of recent (and not so recent) thoughts....


V and Flash Forward are both done until March, but I can't say that I'll miss them terribly. After a shaky start, V has settled into guilty pleasure viewing, nothing more. Flash Forward has always felt like a blatant attempt by ABC to catch lightning in a bottle. There's been a lot of flailing around in the last couple of weeks. Characters with inconsistent behavior, dumb plotting, and the overload of soap opera elements -- who really cares about the Doc's quest to find his Japanese true love? Lots of retooling during hiatus, but will viewers return to see the results? I still can't believe the network doesn't have supplemental content to keep fans engaged during that long of a break.



Better than Twilight -- yeah, I know, that's not saying much, but still.. Occasionally, more often than we'd like to admit, bad/cheesy stories sell. But don't just dismiss it as dumb luck. Understand that these stories are bypassing the head and speaking directly to the hearts of their intended audience. Can your stories do the same?


So I (finally) settled on my procedural and I'm getting there. Made some huge strides a few days ago. Early on, I promised myself that I wouldn't hastily throw something together just for the sake of a contest. No need to add another ill conceived idea to my unfinished spec graveyard. If this contest doesn't work out, I still have a pretty good start for a feature. The details for the first act are almost fleshed out. My biggest adversary is time. I suspect the contest will reach 1500 entries well before the January deadline. A productive weekend is a must.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Crazy


In search of inspiration, I revisited Raines on Hulu, the short-lived Jeff Goldblum series from a couple years ago about a detective who interacts with hallucinations of murder victims as he works their cases. More grounded than something like Ghost Whisperer, it's an intriguing premise that doesn't quite take off. Goldblum's great as a man battling to maintain his sanity, but too many of the episodes were hit or miss.



I also caught Mad Detective on Sundance's Asia Extreme. A brilliant-but-not-all-there former cop (there was an "incident" involving an ear) who claims he can see people's inner personalities, as well as the ghost of his wife. Think an insane Asian Columbo. A young detective enlists his help with a baffling case. Surprised this hasn't been remade for the States, probably just a matter of time... *googling* ... which will be sooner than later, according to this blurb in Variety.

I got bored with straight procedurals like Law & Order and C.S.I. years ago, but audiences still can't seem to get enough of them. The challenge for me is to find a happy medium -- hey, that's a thought...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Picture This!

Finally, a decent one sheet. Still, the recent loss of Danny Elfman for the score, all the talk about reshoots and the questionable release date makes me less and less interested in The Wolfman with each passing day.



Not so crazy about this new one for Daybreakers. Seems a little bland....



Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tick, Tick

The Trackingb.com late deadline is slowly creeping up on me, only few days away. Aside from the occasional tweak, my script has been done for a while. Only thing left to do is hit send. Moving along, even though I've settled on a idea for the ION TV-movie contest, some of the nuts and bolts still manage to elude me. I've got the structure figured out, but I haven't found an interesting enough protagonist. And unlike my last pilot attempt, I'm trying not to go overboard with the supernatural/fantasy stuff...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Trick 'r Treat



Anna Paquin stars on one of the hottest shows on cable TV, which happens to feature vampires as well other supernatural creatures, so her involvement in a Halloween-themed horror flick exec produced by X-Men's Bryan Singer sounds like a no-brainer for a theater near you, right? BZZZT! Nope. Trick 'r Treat's straight to DVD release is downright puzzling. Some might find a scene or two objectionable, but it's a mostly solid collection of tales about the spirit of Halloween:

a) Respect the symbols of Halloween.

b) Burying secrets.

c) A prank goes horribly wrong.

d) The spirit of Halloween pays a grumpy old man a visit.

e) A naive young woman in search of a date.

The film feels a lot like an updated Tales From The Darkside. Makes the most of its rumored 12 million dollar budget. The move to bypass theaters must be a result of behind the scenes machinations that we're not privy to, someone won/lost a power play? I mean, even the subpar Blood:The Last Vampire got a limited release. Regardless, this should do well on DVD...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Heroes meets Skins



Misfits is an upcoming UK series about five delinquents who get superpowers after being struck by lightning. Invisible Dude, Time Traveling Guy, Mind Reader Girl and Aphrodisiac Chick so far -- BTW, those are my nicknames. The fifth guy hasn't shown any special abilities... yet. Don't know about this one, but it can't be any worse than the current season of Heroes.

Contest Alert!

Act I: ION Television Movie Contest

Enter “Act I: The ION Television Movie Contest” and submit your original idea for a dramatic TV movie. One winner will receive $40,000 and a development deal with ION Television. Up to 25 finalists have the opportunity to earn a first-look deal with ION.

Ideally, the ideas submitted by entrants will be for a two-hour made-for-TV movie that could potentially serve as a pilot for launching an hour-long drama procedural TV series.

We are looking for procedural dramas meant for mature audiences. The ideal script would have a strong central character or team of characters and a plot that focuses on the introduction, investigation, and solution of a central problem or mystery. An ending that leaves the door open to further stories or sequels involving some or all of the same characters is recommended.

In the TV realm, CSI, Law & Order, and House are perhaps the best known examples of procedurals. There are also TV movie series that fit this definition well: The Jesse Stone movies, the Movies of the Week featuring Columbo, etc.

While many procedurals focus on crime, law, or medicine, stories set in any field are encouraged, so long as they allow for an examination of the procedures by which the central problem or mystery is overcome.

Within this dramatic movie genre, there can certainly be comic themes, characters or tones so long as the procedural element is prominent.

To enter, submit a treatment describing your idea (5-10 pages) and the first act of the script (15-40 pages).

Scripts must be entered by uploading them in a PDF format on the NYTVF upload page or via Withoutabox (please read the upload guidelines on the Withoutabox submission form-- file requirements differ). For more information on how to convert documents into PDF format, Click here.

The submission period will open on October 26 and will close at 12:00 noon Eastern on January 15, 2010.

All submissions must be uploaded during this time period, without exception. The contest will stop accepting entries if this period elapses or if it receives 1,500 valid entries, whichever comes first.
------------------------------------------

Television isn't my focus anymore, just too hard to break in, but the prize money here is more than worth the gamble. The gears are already turning... mature audiences... procedural... think I've got an angle. I'm not crazy about the short window -- not enough time for heavy procrastinating, but worse case scenario: there's another spec script on my pile.

Friday, October 30, 2009

First 5 mins of Colin

Check out the first five minutes of the small budget ($70) zombie flick that made big waves at Cannes. Looks okay, but I was expecting a stronger opening...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cup Of Tears



Why does the Cup of Tears trailer look more interesting than Ninja Assassin?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Paranormal Activity



Not gonna give up any spoilers, but scariest movie of all time? I think not. You can find scarier clips on online, in fact, I'll give you a head start:

The 10 Scariest videos on the internet.

(watch out for #2!)

The Blair Witch comparisons are apt. Low budget, high concept horror goes on to become an "overnight" box office sensation. Not bad for a film that's been sitting on the shelf for a few years. ..

Nice idea with adequate execution and a FEW tense moments. Unlike BW, Paranormal Activity doesn't feel like a bunch of actors riffing for 90+ minutes. There's definitely a three act structure to the story. I could almost describe it as an extended episode of Supernatural where the Winchester brothers *don't* show up. If you ignore the hype and lower your expectations, it should be a decent experience... but you still might hate it with every fiber of your being...

*shrugs*

The marketing folks are the real stars here. They've managed to create buzz by turning a tiny film into an event, which is no small feat. After that, the bandwagon effect took over.

I tweeted earlier about a possible Paranormal Activity 2. Who didn't see that coming?

And get ready for the imitators...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wolvesbayne



You wouldn't believe how many hits my blog gets from the Wolvesbayne trailer that I posted back in May. Who knew it had such a following? Anyway, I checked out last night's premiere on SyFy.... kind of what I expected... a man -- last name Bayne, get it? --- is attacked by a werewolf and gets caught up in a long running feud between humans and vampires.

It's basically a mishmash of various action/horror movie plots: Underworld, Underworld: Evolution, Queen of the Damned, etc. Jeremy London is fine as the reluctant monster/hero, while Yancy Butler and Mark Dacascos chew up scenery like nobody's business as evil vamps. The opening is actually pretty decent. We get a brief shot of a full fledged werewolf in attack mode -- don't remember another one. The main problem with most werewolf flicks, especially the low budget variety, is the lack of a decent looking creature. All you need is some fangs and maybe a pair of funky contacts to be a vampire. It's no surprise that the vamps get the majority of screen time. In Wolvesbayne, we have to settle for kinda-werewolf-like-if-you-squint-real-hard.

I thought the plot was a little too complicated for its own good, and the story was too ambitious for the limited budget. Based on the ending, someone is obviously trying to start a little direct to video franchise. Not the best low budget werewolf flick, that prize goes to Dog Soldiers or Ginger Snaps, but more interesting than stuff like Big Bad Wolf and Warwolves.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Daybreakers One Sheet



Don't know about you, but this reminds me of the human farms/batteries in The Matrix and Blade: Trinity. A lot. The last thing you want to do is evoke memories of a really bad vampire film. Still, I like the premise, so I'll try to block out any thoughts of vampires strutting around in red leather pants.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Throwback: Misfits of Science



Everything old is new again. Before Heroes, way back in the 80s, NBC had an action/adventure series about a group of people dealing with their freakish super powers, the Misfits of Science. Here's the part where I usually wax nostalgic about how great it was and should have lasted for more than a season, but I can barely remember the pilot. I do recall that Courtney Cox was a troubled teen with some sort of telekinetic/jinx-like ability; and I thought the coolest character was the rockstar with his electrical powers. Lamest character? The really tall black scientist who could make himself tiny -- what kind of crappy super power is that?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

SPACE MADNESS!



I've always loved the concept of a claustrophobic action/thriller set on a spaceship, and Pandorum starts off with the best of intentions. Crew members (or are they?) wake up from hyper-sleep aboard the Elysium, suffering from temporary amnesia. Something's gone wrong with the ship and to top it off, bloodthirsty creatures are everywhere. Oh yeah, extended periods in space can lead to a condition called SPACE MAD-- er, Pandorum.

This is a dark film. Very dark. Is that a boob? No, it's her knee. Where are they!? WHO'S TALKING!? Pandorum isn't bad, you've just seen it before. Bits and pieces of other films like Event Horizon, Sunshine, Resident Evil, Alien, etc. stitched together into an uneven genre quilt. Hard to say more without giving away spoilers, but the performances were pretty solid -- newcomer Antje Traue has a Milla Jovovich vibe working really well for her. It's easy to dismiss this as a mindless sci-fi actioner, but there's a decent attempt at the thriller aspect, some okay twists along the way. The ending is alright. Gotta check out the script for a little compare and contrast.

The film's main selling point, the creatures, was probably the most unnecessary. I think it would've worked just fine with paranoid humans vs. paranoid humans. There were a couple of non-sci-fi scripts that used the temporary amnesia angle -- but ironically enough, I'm blanking on the names...

Even with its flaws, I was sorry to see the low box office returns.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Freddy vs. Freddy





Shocks me to say this, but we really do have a tendency to remember our childhood as being sweeter than it actually was. I say shocking because that quote comes from the always introspective Michael Bay, one of the producers of the remake/re-imagining/whatever they call it these days, who's bringing us back to Elm Street in 2010. I can't believe how cheesy the original looks to my grownup eyes. The laughable scares, dated music and cheap special effects now make me groan more than anything else -- does this count as one of my semi-weekly throwbacks? Hey, there goes a young Johnny Depp! The new trailer, on the other hand, looks like the business. Love Englund, but New Freddy has a creepy vibe and a genuine menace about him. I know Bay's fingerprints are all over this, but maybe, just maybe...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jennifer's Autopsy


I don't get all the Diablo Cody hate -- especially the sour grapes from unsold screenwriters. Her first screenplay became a hit film that grossed over 200 million dollars worldwide and netted her an Oscar... oh yeah, she used to be a stripper. What's the big deal?

'The dialogue in Juno was unrealistic and annoying!'
'She's just a flash in the pan!'
'Who calls themselves Diablo Cody?'
'She only gets attention because she's an attractive woman.'

Who cares!? Don't you have better things to do, you know, like writing? For the record, I didn't care for "Juno," but I think it's a good thing when *anyone* sells a spec that becomes a critical and commercial success. Increases our odds just a bit. Anyway, the film...

A botched human sacrifice transforms a bitchy teen into a bitchy, demonic teen who feeds on (mostly male) human flesh, and it's up to Jennifer's B.F.F. to stop her before it's too late. Not bad. A throwback to 80s B-movies. Kind of lacking in the suspense department. If you're going to turn the tables on the boys in a horror flick, go all the way. Break out all the old clichés and have fun with them -- I kept waiting for some big, macho football player to twist an ankle while attempting to run away from the hot monster-chick. All in all, Megan Fox doesn't embarrass herself. It's not the best role to showcase her skills, but who in their right mind would turn down the opportunity to star in a flick written by a screenwriter coming off an Academy Award?

Based on the names involved, the Box Office was a disappointment. But I wouldn't be so quick to start dancing on the grave of Cody's screenwriting career. People underestimate how hard it is to market a horror-comedy. With the exception of "Shaun of the Dead," most of the recent attempts have flopped. The trailer should have focused more on scares rather than one-liners. The "R" rating was a huge mistake -- probably the result of one too many (unnecessary) f-bombs. David Goyer's "The Unborn" (PG-13) had a 19 million dollar opening weekend with Odette Yustman (who?) as the lead -- not a good film, but they certainly knew how to sell the goods. JB's budget was around 16 million, so at the end of the day, the film will eventually make a profit. If the DVD has a commentary track with Cody and Kusama, I'll definitely check it out.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Throwback: Unbreakable



Dear M. Night Shyamalan,

You exploded onto the scene with the brilliant "Sixth Sense" and then avoided the sophmore jinx by following up with this fascinating thinking man's comic book film about a hero who rediscovers himself. In the past, you've said that sequels weren't your thing, but after "Lady In The Water" and "The Happening," ever thought about reconsidering? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you're washed up or anything like that. I'm sure "Avatar: The Last Airbender" will probably make loads of dough. I'd just like to see you revisit one of your better ideas. I'm pretty sure Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis are still game. So how bout it, big guy?

Favorite scene:

Mr. Glass' attempted foot chase. Makes me wince every time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

District 9



Before seeing the film, I was lucky enough to hear a radio interview with Writer/Director Neil Blomkamp. He described how he wanted to combine his love of Sci-Fi with the experience of growing up in a "crazy" place like South Africa. In that regard, I'd have to say, mission accomplished.

It's incredible what Blomkamp was able to accomplish with a modest budget, under 40 million dollars. Okay, we're not exactly talking about a shoe-string production with Grandma doubling as cinematographer and chief stunt woman, but for the scope of the film, the final result is still pretty impressive. I'm not gonna name names, but a couple of the effects exceeded the work seen in a recent summer blockbuster or two *cough* G.I. Joe *cough*. Stuff gets blown up real good with lots of cool alien weaponry as our "hero" fights to regain his humanity -- it's highly debatable how much he had in the first place.

While entertaining, I didn't think the film had some deep, resonating message. "Alien Nation" already covered the oppressed-minorities-substituted-with-aliens-thing. Here, I don't think the aliens are supposed to represent anything but aliens -- who get high off cat food. There's a good bit of satire in the beginning, but aside from saying that earthlings of all colors are scum, "District 9" settles into your basic Sci-Fi actioner worthy of rabid fanboy adoration. Now it's more than possible that my American eyes didn't pick up on all the nuances, but I think I got the gist of it. I don't foresee a Best Picture nomination in its future, although anything is possible with ten open slots, but one for visual effects certainly wouldn't surprise me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Perfect Getaway



"A Perfect Getaway" is hardly a perfect film -- couldn't resist that one -- but it aspires to be a thriller of Hitchcockian proportions with lots of juicy twists and unexpected turns, inviting viewers to play along and solve the mystery.

The story goes something like this: Honeymooners in Hawaii become aware of a murderous couple on the loose, cutting off fingers and pulling teeth. Who could it be? The hitchhikers they rebuffed? The friendly Southerner with his over-the-top war stories and perky girlfriend? Or maybe that shady pair from the supply store? Hmmm...

Good concept, but the story doesn't quite deliver. The twists aren't that juicy and the turns are fairly predictable. The trailer gives the impression of an action-packed, suspenseful thriller, which is hardly the case. Lots of walking, climbing and talking for maybe an hour and change. The dialogue just isn't strong enough to carry the film for that length of time. Sure, it wants to be self-aware by talking about red herrings and screenwriting, but that stuff is like death warmed over to non-writers. "Getaway" tries to make up for the slow pace with a knock-down, drag-down last 15 minutes, but it's too late by then.

The big reveal is pretty silly because it hinges on an illogical scene that served no purpose -- except to fool (or outright lie to) the audience. The backstory makes even less sense. Still, I can appreciate the fact that the film tried to be different rather than resort to torture porn or some other inane route.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife



Going in, I knew this was more romance than fantasy flick, but I still wasn't prepared for the extreme fluffiness that assaulted my senses. Based on the popular novel by the same name, "The Time Traveler's Wife" is about a guy with a genetic quirk that causes him to involuntarily jump around in time -- conveniently in places that he's been or going to be -- and the woman who loves him. Kinda sounds like a topic for Dr. Phil. BTW, did I forget to mention that he time travels in the nude? Clothes fall right off. Hilarious, I know. Maybe that's a better topic for Maury, "Time Traveling Husband Paternity Tests!"

So our (nude) time traveler meets a little girl that he'll eventually marry and blah, blah. I just can't do it. This is just not a very interesting story. Not that strong of a romance either. The film does have two very appealing leads in Rachel McAdams and Erica Bana. They're very good together, but the story...meh. No real conflict. No outside obstacles keeping the two apart. They bicker and make up like couples do. Cue romantic music. He disappears at the most inopportune times. Sad music plays. Repeat and rinse. Sure, there are a few bumps along the road -- two to be exact, but you never get the sense that things won't work out. You can't change the future -- except when it comes to the lottery. A pleasant, but mostly forgettable film. For the life of me, I don't know why ABC thinks it has potential as a TV series. "Journeyman" already covered this territory quite well and went nowhere in the ratings. Box office has been solid though. At some point, I'll have to read the script -- I miss the old days, when produced scripts were hard to find. My "read pile" is huge...

Personally, I think "Somewhere In Time" with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour is a much better time-travel romance film. Surprised they haven't attempted to remake that one yet, but give 'em time...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Throwback: Frailty



One of the most underrated horror films of the past decade. One night, dear old Dad wakes his sons to tell them that he's been chosen by God to slay demons. Now these demons might appear to be people made of flesh and blood, but they're actually nasty demons in disguise. Armed with a trusty axe named Otis and a pair of magical gloves, the family sets off on a strange, dark journey...

Props to James Cameron for suggesting to Bill Paxton that he keep the reveal until the end. No cats leaping out of cuppboards. No one investigating strange noises in skimpy underwear. No gore. Just lots of quiet tension. Feels almost Shyamalanesque -- I'm talking pre-Happening and Lady In The Water. Also reminds me of the CW's "Supernatural" a little bit. Sam and Dean's early years. Really wish Paxton would direct more. Haven't seen much from screenwriter Brent Hanley either. Great DVD as well.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Darker Truth



While I'm intrigued by the idea of using a web series to promote a film or TV project, a lot of them tend to let me down in the execution. "A Darker Truth" was created for the CW's "Vampire Diaries". The acting was weak and the production values weren't much better. Why should we care that so-and-so killed your sister? Really difficult to tell a meaningful story in that short time frame -- although I believe the Japanese have been successful with cell phone soaps. Still, it is the first episode. I won't pass final judgment until a few more installments.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vampin



Is it just me or does Michael Sheen look like some kind of vampire pimp?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Unfaithful

I've been spending so much time on Twitter, I think my blog got jello (I'm in the middle of "Jennifer's Body") and rejected the slick template that I installed last month. From now on, I'll stick with my own designs, so the basic black will be around until I can whip up something. So what else is new? Contemplating on another screenwriting contest. Kind of wish I had entered Austin or Page -- even the tiniest bit of validation wouldn't hurt at this point. Probably going with trackingb. Good odds and a chance at representation.

Still putting together a list of production companies to query. I'm waiting on the results from another contest, so no big rush. Gives me more time to work on the query letter -- putting together a little something extra. I know it's a Hail Mary, but I'm also going to query a few managers that rep actors, see if I can get some talent attached to the script.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Avatar Trailer



Had a chance to watch it a couple of times and while still enjoyable, I kinda wish there was more emphasis placed on story and dialogue -- might have to read that old scriptment floating around the net. Up to this point, I had been underwhelmed by the one-sheet and stills, but the visuals here are impressive. I don't think "Avatar" will be the game-changer that some predict, but it looks like a step in the right direction. I'm curious to see how folks react to the 16 minute preview that debuts tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Legion Trailer



I tweeted about this earlier, but I'd like to expand a bit further than a hundred and forty characters. One of the loooongest trailers I've seen in a while -- talk about blowing your load! You really have to wonder if the film has anything left, other than a lot of standing around and talking. For a B-movie action/fantasy, "Legion" certainly has an above average cast: Dennis Quaid, Kate Walsh (WTF?), Paul Bettany, Tyrese Gibson, Charles S. Dutton, etc. A film like this would usually get one or two recognizable faces. Sometimes we forget that even actors have bills to pay. Can't hurt to shoot a query letter to the manager/agent of a pie in the sky actor on your dream cast list.

The best I could dig up on the production budget was 40 million. Say what you want about the humdrum plot, renegade angel and a handful of strangers defend a pregnant waitress from a legion of angels, but it's a good-looking 40 million dollar flick. Still, I can't seem to shake the been-there-done-that feeling while watching the trailer. The January release isn't exactly a vote of confidence from the studio either.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Pandorum


Ever come up with what you believe is an absolute dandy of a premise -- only to discover that it's already headed to a theater near you? Pandorum is pretty close something that I've been kicking around for a while. Not exactly the same, but enough similarities to make me curse under my breath while watching the trailer. Amnesia. Creatures. Confined spaces. Feels a little Resident Evilish -- no surprise there, it's from the RE creators. I'm ticked that someone beat me to it, but I'm not about to give up on the idea just yet. It all comes down to execution.

Weird Science


Legend has it that John Hughes wrote this sci-fi comedy over a weekend. Still holds up after all these years...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Wolverine Anime Trailer



Well, this is certainly an "interesting" interpretation of the iconic Marvel hero. Kind of girly in my opinion, but that's the way of anime protagonists. Don't know if it will go over well with hardcore Wolverine fans. I sat through the Gotham Knight anime, which was okay, so I'd probably give this a shot.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Queen of the Damned



Amazing soundtrack. Amazingly bad film. I could never get into Anne Rice's novels, but "Interview with the Vampire" was a fairly entertaining adaptation. Hmmm. Maybe "bad" is the wrong word. How about cheap? I believe the budget for this sequel was half of the original, 35 million. Going from Tom Cruise to Stuart Townsend saved the studio a couple bucks, but probably hurt them in the long run. And the late Aaliyah Haughton as Akasha, was the result of stunt casting more than her acting ability -- a trend that continues...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sooner or Later

Dear Scream,

With a record number of entries and a readily apparent increase in quality, this year’s Nicholl Fellowships was more competitive than in any previous year. Now that scores have been tallied for all 6,380 entries, we have to inform too many writers of scripts featuring compelling stories, intriguing characters and excellent craft that they have not advanced into the next round. Regrettably, ________ was not one of the 321 entries selected as a Quarterfinalist in the 2009 Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.

Blah, Blah, Blah..

Had pretty realistic expectations going into the competition, but the dink still stings. I didn't even get a P.S. at the bottom of my e-mail saying, 'positive reads' , 'top 15 percent' or whatever. Only 5 percent were able to move on, but I wasn't in that 'almost' 10-15 percent group, and that's where the doubt creeps in. I'm gonna wallow in it for a while, dust myself off and then get back to work.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Point Pleasant Revisited



Remember this? Way back in 2005, a lifetime ago, I blogged about the short-lived supernatural drama regarding Satan's hot daughter and her struggle against a dark destiny. I recently caught the full 13 episode run during a marathon on Chiller -- really need to get out more. Anyway, it came across much campier than I remembered, much of it intentional. I now see how the show's creators could've played it safe and went with the typical vanilla drama, but they tried something different. Much belated props for that.

Near the end, Christina was acting like a Buffy villain, with the quips and everything! In case you're curious, nothing monumental happens in the finale. Christina goes over to the dark side, but she still has a sliver of good somewhere inside -- at least that's what some characters would like to believe. Ah, closure. Now I have one less thing to wonder about... is it time for those Nicholl's emails yet?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Need A Hero!

I can't remember the last time I posted some of my stuff, so here's something I threw together this morning for John August's Superheroic Scene Challenge.




It's a very rough draft (and probably too dark?), but I had a lot of fun with my losing entry. Hopefully, I'll have better luck next week when the Nicholl's quarterfinalists are announced -- or not...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eastwick Promo Trailer



Looks like a watered-down "Desperate Housewives" meets "Charmed". Three latent witches accidentally summon a devilish rogue to their quaint little town, (supernatural) hijinks ensue. Is this concept really capable of a 100 episode run? I have a hard time seeing it, but I felt the same way about "Charmed" when it debuted, so what the bleep do I know?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Orphan


Recently read the script for this upcoming thriller about a couple that adopts a little girl with a BIG SECRET. Not much to discuss without giving away the BIG SECRET, which isn't too hard to figure out, but I can say that "Orphan" manages to push some effective buttons along the way. Plays on a lot of parental fears. The sight of kids doing bad things will have some folks squirming in their seats.

I do think the story hinges too much on the twist. Once we discover the BIG SECRET -- through a rather boring piece of exposition -- there's a mad dash to wrap everything up in a neat little bow (ha-ha). It's a cool idea that'll make you go, 'Why didn't I think of that?' "Orphan" could go either way at the box office -- will definitely be a classic on cable. The release date suggests that the studio thinks its a winner. Really curious to see if it clicks with audiences, especially Moms.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blade



Spidey gets all the credit, but it was really an obscure C-level character that jump-started the comic book movie renaissance -- honestly, I'm not so sure that was a such good thing these days. It was a perfect storm of martial arts, blaxploitation, horror, electronica and comic book sensibilities. There was something for everyone. The "Blade" and "Underworld" films are what really inspired me to take a crack at a genre mash-up script. Some of the effects, especially in the third act, look especially dated, but it's still a fun romp.


I'm not buying those recent reports that reference a blurb from 2008, about a Deacon Frost prequel/trilogy directed by Stephen Norrington. Cool character, but who the heck is clamoring for a Deacon Frost movie!? If you're out there, speak up!

These days vampires are all sparkly in daylight, go to high school and some don't even feed on humans!? Makes me sick to my stomach. There was talk about a Blade reboot a while back, I just hope they come up with a good story. If anyone's interested, I have an idea...



Friday, July 10, 2009

[REC] vs. Quarantine


Virtually the same -- except for the whole Spanish/English thing. [REC] has a supernatural explanation that I liked a lot more than the virus gone wild angle used in "Quarantine" -- truthfully, neither makes a lick of sense. There's some smart filmmaking going on here. They found an interesting way to exploit a well-worn sub-genre: Blair Witch/Cloverfield meets typical zombie flick. I usually don't go ga-ga over zombie films, but I found these two entertaining.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

New District 9 Trailer



Looking forward to this!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Blood: The Last Vampire



I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to action/horror flicks like "Blade", "Hellboy" and "Underworld" -- I'll even cop to watching "Van Helsing" on more than one occasion, so obviously I'm gonna flip for a movie about a hot, brooding vampire slayer who takes out vamps with her trusty samurai sword, right? Eh, not so much...

While the film tries admirably to capture/expand on the short anime that it's based on, the result is mostly flat. Especially the dramatic scenes -- Come on, Scream! This isn't supposed to be "Memoirs of a Geisha"! Are the action scenes original and kick ass? Hmm...



Look familiar?



Saya hunts Chiropterans -- let's just call them vampires, but she's really after a specific vamp for clichéd reasons that we'll learn as the story predictably unfolds. One of her missions winds up leaving a "loose end" named Alice. Saya's forced to protect Alice from the vamps who want her dead, as well as the human "cleaners" that she works with.



Not a total train wreck, "Blood" does have its moments (like the goofy afro vampire fight above), but too often becomes weighed down by the cheesy and uninspired. I've seen better monsters on "Dr. Who". Basically, the film couldn't compete visually with the anime, especially with a modest 35 million dollar budget. The expanded story didn't do it any favors either. There's a twist near the end that Helen Keller and Ray Charles could've seen coming a mile away. I also question the sequence where the antagonist has the obligatory villain monologue in English and not in her more comfortable native tongue (with English subtitles). Finally, I can't think of a film that ends with a more forced line of dialogue. The lesson here? Less is more. Watch the anime, wait for this on DVD -- which will probably be sooner than later.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Animated Buffy


Kind of a cheat for Throwback Thursdays, because it never became a reality. But it would have been fascinating to explore a Buffyverse limited only by the imagination of the writers. Yeah, there's a Buffy comic but it's not the same thing.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

DEADGIRL



Unsettling but effective one sheet.

Deal Breaker?


So Kirk Acevedo is off "Fringe" and Meghan Markle joins the cast -- used to be one of the "Deal or No Deal" show-models -- as a junior FBI agent. Charlie was the skeptic. He didn't buy into the crazy theories, just did his job. Kinda like Skinner on "X-Files". Might screw up the dynamic. I also read that a slew of new writers are being brought in. Just when the show had started to find its legs....

"Mutant Chronicles" is exactly what you'd expect from a sci-fi zombie movie. Decent cast -- I didn't get the Pras from the Fugees cameo. Apparently, John Malkovich will agree to *any* script thrown in his direction.... maybe I should get his contact info! Simple, silly story. Struggles when it tries to go beyond the limited budget. Murky shadows and digital blood splatter can only go so far. I think plans for a theatrical release fell through.

Stuck in the mud with the new script -- okay, stuck is the wrong word. I have options, I just don't like any of 'em. Think I'll work on something else until inspiration strikes. I have an idea for a low budget thriller that I'd like to get off the ground anyway. By hook or by crook, I'm gonna start and finish two scripts this year.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Daybreakers Trailer



I hated the one sheet, but this really got my attention.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Star Trek Nero



So it wasn't a plot hole after all. An upcoming comic that fills us in on Nero's activities during that vague 25 year period. Honestly, I don't get the whole comic-book-as-a-blockbuster-movie-marketing-tool thing. The audience is so niche that you could probably grab a larger and more diverse set of eyeballs on youtube with a blooper reel. In the olden days, comics were more readily available to kids -- and cheaper. Now it's a narrow group of mostly males in their 20s keeping the industry alive. Maybe the small buzz is worth it. I do like the idea of storytelling on multiple mediums though -- for the smaller genre films that really need it. I guess it comes down to low cost, low risk.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Gathering



Kind of late, but I liked the legend behind this 2002 supernatural thriller. A group of souls forced to witness horrific events for all eternity -- punishment for hanging out at the crucifixion. Think a low budget version of "The Knowing".
Christina Ricci plays a young woman -- after being in a car accident -- who starts having strange visions while passing through a quaint English town. While folks puzzle over the images uncovered in a long forgotten church, a troubled man is about to snap and Ricci is the only person who seems concerned. Ioan "Mr. Fantastic" Gruffudd shows up for moral support -- and as a love interest in the 13 minute extended version not shown in the U.S.

The twists aren't that surprising, but I found it watchable. I can see where the third act might have turned some people off though. It threatens to break one of those unwritten movie rules in graphic fashion. Even if you don't break the rule, it's hard not come across as cheap and manipulative in the eyes of some.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fright Night


Classic flick from the 80s -- okay, "classic" might be a little strong, but a fun romp nevertheless. "Fright Night" is sorta like "Disturbia" with a vampire as the creepy next door neighbor. A rare mix of horror and humor that actually works. Decent special effects for its time. Between this and "A Princess Bride", I've always wondered why villain Chris Sarandon didn't get juicier roles. The film is a lot better than the cheesy trailer would lead you to believe. Plans for a remake taking place at an amusement park (!?!) were scrapped not too long ago.

Trick R Treat



Michael Dougherty's "Trick R Treat" finally gets to see the light of day on DVD. I've read all sorts of good stuff about this horror anthology, but it supposedly sat on the shelf for over a year because nobody could figure out how to market the thing. Anyways, here's a 9 minute preview...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Vamp Diaries Preview



Wasn't planning on another post about a show that has yet to air, but this extended preview recently popped up on youtube. Noticed some tweaks to the script. Turned out a little better than I expected. Judge for yourself...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vampire Diaries



It's always hard to judge pilots, but there's a considerable amount of cheese wafting off the pages. Equal parts angsty teen soap and paranormal romance, "Vampire Diaries" disappoints at both. Starts off with a double-murder by supernatural means. Enter mysterious new (stud)ent with an obvious attraction to our female protagonist -- still mourning the loss of her parents. Throw in a jackass kid brother, annoying friends/frenemies, another attack and I guess we're supposed to be enthralled by it all. Did I mention the mind-numbing voice-overs when the two leads scribble in their journals?

We all know what the CW is trying to do here, but "Vampire Diaries" only succedes at making "Twilight" look like Romeo and Juliet. Not an interesting character in sight. Cringe-worthy dialogue at times -- surprising since Kevin Williamson is credited as a co-writer. With so many clichés coming at you left and right, you'll start to feel psychic. "Buffy" had the good sense to turn clichés on their heads, "Diaries" just hopes you're too young to know them.

Now I'm not the target audience, so maybe Tween girls will eat it up with a spoon -- casting did an excellent job. The books were enough of a success for someone to try and turn them into a series, which is all that seems to matter these days.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Throwback Thursdays: Species



Who could forget this B-movie classic from the 90s? Natasha Henstridge -- who naturally looks like a perfect uber babe created in a lab -- totally owned this role as a horny but deadly alien/human hybrid, Sil. Sequels never lived up to the original...

Cinderella


Creepy Asian horror flim from 2006. It's about a malevolent spirit that haunts the office of a plastic surgeon and her teen daughter. Even without the standard supernatural stuff, there's some great horror here. The subject matter would really click with Western audiences. I'm sure it's already on remake pipeline.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Highlander



Probably one of the best examples of cinematic lightning in a bottle. Far better known properties have come and gone over the years, but this quirky sword and fantasy franchise going back to 1986 has stood the test of time -- buckled on more than a few occasions. Immortal beings of obscure origin swordfight across the ages for an even more obscure Prize. That generic premise -- along with the help of some rockin' Queen songs -- spawned conventions, books, TV shows, cartoons, merchandise, etc. Every couple of years, there's a story in the news about some sword-wielding lunatic mouthing off about, 'There can only be one'.

So a reboot is in the works -- seriously this time, because there's always talk about another "Highlander" flick. I was intrigued by the lukewarm/negative script review that hit the net a few days ago, so I did a little digging and found a copy.... It's a decent action/fantasy that tries hard to satisfy the tastes of today's audiences. Think a less flashier version of "Wanted" with swords *and* guns.

Hard to say if it will work. I'm pretty sure fans of the original will be pissed at the changes -- especially characterization. Some of the charm is gone, but the thing is, we tend to remember our youth being sweeter than it actually was -- can't believe I paraphrased Michael Bay of all people. Like the original, the reboot will depend on casting -- I predict oodles of cameos for rappers and MMA fighters -- action and the soundtrack.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Devil's Tomb trailer



Never heard of this...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Terminator Salvation



Here's where they screwed up: The "Terminator" flicks have always been about the chase. Unstoppable, killing-machines pursuing a human target, John Connor. Even the TV series understood that. And "Judgment Day" isn't a bad film, it just couldn't meet the impossible standards set by T2.

"Salvation" tries to be some kind of futuristic war drama. Bad idea. John Connor isn't the main character. Worse idea. Introduce a mysterious character, but give away the big twist in the trailers. WTF? I can appreciate the attempt to try something different, but the plot was a mess. Some of the dialogue is downright painful -- not to mention all the forced callbacks.

Even if 30-40 minutes of story really ended up on the cutting room floor, I doubt it would have made a big difference. On the plus side, the effects were great and it was cool to see Michael Ironside chewing scenery -- hope he gets a cameo on the new "V" series. Does this flop mean the end of McG? *sigh* Don't bet on it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cronocrimenes



aka Timecrimes

Another clever filmmaker. This Spanish sci-fi thriller has only four characters, few locations and lots of time travel. Fun story to watch unfold, but you'll get a headache trying to sort out the details and the behavior of some characters.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Colin


Marc Price makes a zombie film for 70 bucks -- you heard me right -- and it becomes a hit at Cannes. Read the amazing story here. You can follow news about the film on twitter. Excuse me while I go kick myself...

Script Poker

Mentioned earlier on Twitter that I passed on the FOX/P&G sitcom contest. I would’ve been able to crank out a script before the deadline, but of questionable quality -- there‘s always next year. Instead, I tossed my hat into the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival. In the past, the top scripts have gotten reads at Lions Gate... seems like a decent enough gamble.

I'm currently waffling on entering a third screenwriting contest -- Screamfest or the Austin Film Festival . Screamfest seems like the obvious choice, but Austin has a good reputation (offering free feedback for second rounders this year) and a special category for horror/sci-fi -- kinda pricey at 70 bucks though. Maybe I’ll pass on both. There are plenty of broke screenwriters with contest wins/placements and not much else. Already thinking about phase two of my quest: querying production companies.

Started on a new concept. Comedy, romance and of course, a supernatural angle. This one has a lot of commercial potential. Gunning for a first draft in a reasonable time frame. Maybe 2-3 months? Trying to cut down on my usual hand wringing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Throwback Thurdays: The Midnight Hour



Another 80s TV movie I found on youtube. This one is about teens fooling around with magic in a cemetery... unwittingly raising various creatures of the night. And since it's Halloween, they blend right in. Lots of bad acting, bad make up -- plus a song and dance number! This clip opens up with my favorite scene: hot girl alone in the wine cellar with a mysterious woman. You might recognize the song here, "How Soon Is Now" by The Smiths, also used in "The Craft" and the theme song for "Charmed".

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"V" upfront trailer



I had my doubts about Morena Baccarin as the alien leader, but I like this softer take on the character. Lots of familiar tv sci-fi faces in the cast.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wolvesbane Trailer




The title is actually WOLVESBAYNE...

Werewolves, vampire hunters and Nazi vampire cults. Looks like B-movie heaven...

UPDATE: You can read my review here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Throwback Thursdays: Bermuda Depths



I was going to start this last week, but I totally forgot to post on time -- and it would've been silly to have a Throwback Thursday on Friday. Basically, a look back at some of the obscure (often cheesy) films that I grew up on. In the olden days, before Al Gore invented the internet, Netflix and six cabillion cable channels, the networks used to crank out tons of tv-movies. I can't recall most of them, but there was a fair share of supernatural stuff. "The Bermuda Depths" was one of the "classics". I couldn't begin to explain the plot, but it involves the Bermuda Triangle, a monster sea turtle and Connie Sellecca as a ghost. As far as I know, it's never been released on DVD, but a lot of Gen Xers have lingering memories of the film -- some attribute it to the music and/or humpback whale sounds. Now through the magic of youtube, you can check out the first ten minutes -- the whole thing might be online for all I know. WARNING: Extreme cheesiness ahead!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

New Trek


Wow -- movie’s not bad either. Brilliant way to reboot the franchise and not raise the ire of Trekkie purists. I enjoy shows/movies set in the Trek universe, but I wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore fan -- don‘t own a lick of Star Trek related merchandise. I didn’t have huge expectations/fears for this. More than anything, I was curious if Abrams could pull it off… he does.. mostly.

Some interesting choices: a surprise romance, Kirk with daddy issues and now the weight of great expectations -- kind of Luke Skywalkerish if you ask me. Not a lot of going boldly where no man has gone before -- major nitpick. More action oriented than previous films. Are we talking great storytelling here? No. The villain is a forgettable moron and some of the classic references feel forced. But non-Trekkies seem to dig it, so I guess it’s a mission accomplished.

Nowhere near amazing as some reviews are making it out to be, but “New Trek” is far more entertaining than recent event flicks *cough* Wolverine *cough*. A promising start -- the reboot method is a frickin’ master stroke. We’ll see what happens in the future.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Contest Alert!

No rest for the weary. Fox, Procter and Gamble Productions and The New York Television Festival comedy script contest. They're looking for an original sitcom script (between 25-35 pages). Winner gets 25k, a development deal with Fox and best of all, its FREE! Check out the link for more details.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Makes you wonder



Fanboys had better hope "Obsessed" doesn't break 20 million this weekend. Might be all a certain R&B/Pop Princess needs to don the star spangled underwear...

UPDATE: 28.5 million?! Uh Oh fanboys...

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...