At long last, fans of weird science experiments merged with questionable porn film scenarios can rejoice: Tom Six’s The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence has a release date. Yes, there’s more A2M action coming your way this October 7th, when IFC will place the film into limited theatrical release. Just in time for Halloween…
Six is proclaiming that the sequel amps up the gore and disturbing imagery to a point where Full Sequence makes the first film look like My Little Pony. Bold claims for sure, but we get the feeling that Six was holding back in the first feature – easing his audience into the audacious and disturbing world he’d created – and now that he has us, he’s ready to really open the floodgates with the sequel.
The October release date is an interesting choice. The film is certainly a horror flick – it’s got people being sewn together mouth-to-anus, for cryin’ out loud – and will benefit from debuting in the one month of the year where it’s actually acceptable for mainstream audiences to check out disturbing genre films. However, this year’s Halloween horror docket is quite full – leading us to wonder just who will come out the winner in October’s bloody battle royale, and who will be left beaten and dismembered in their wake.
First, let’s take a look at the contenders.
Friday, October 7th gets things started with the limited release of Six’s film. Human Centipede II: Full Sequence will probably make the bulk of its money through VOD airings on IFC’s pay-per-view service. There’s no way this film is going to show theatrically in middle America.
Friday the 14th is where things really get rolling, featuring three genre releases. The big dog of the bunch is the prequel to John Carpenter’s cult classic film The Thing. That movie, which was delayed for some re-shoots (never a good sign), opens nationwide – giving it a huge advantage over its potential competitors.
Also opening on the 14th is Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In – a film the director is calling a horror film without the jump scares and screams. Antonio Banderas stars in this twisted tale about a doctor developing a new kind of skin that doesn’t burn. He’s also keeping a woman as a hostage/guinea pig in his basement. Skin is set for a limited release, but given the subject matter, it could give Full Sequence a run for its money since they share at least somewhat similar subject matter (mad scientists). Plus Almodovar has a lot of fans.
Perhaps the most interesting release on the 14th is the limited debut of Lucky McKee’s controversial film The Woman. A cinematic sequel to author Jack Ketchum’s novels Off Season and Offspring (Off Season was in development last we’d heard, Offspring has already been released), The Woman has garnered praise from horror fans – and inspired at least one Sundance attendee to storm off in a tizzy during the screening. Focusing on the matriarch of an inbred cannibal clan haunting the wilds of Maine, The Woman will attract audiences who admire McKee’s work (his film May still remains one of the best genre offerings of the past decade) and want to see whether all the controversy was justified or not.
Things wrap up on the 21st, with the debut of Paranormal Activity 3 – the obligatory annual installment in the Paranormal Activity franchise. Like the Saw films before it, Paranormal Activity now essentially owns October, and other fright flicks go out of their way to avoid opening against it. Will this third installment keep the momentum going? We’ll have to wait until next month to tell.
When it comes to crowning a champ, the box office showdown will be between The Thing and Paranormal Activity 3, -- both films will debut on a huge number of screens and get significant advertising push. While the first Paranormal Activity demonstrated that a tiny upstart film could blow up and take on the established Hollywood releases (and how ironic is it that Paranormal Activity has now become what it once sought to defeat? It’s like a heel turn in pro wrestling…), it’s hard to imagine The Woman, The Skin I Live In, or Human Centipede II catching on and becoming a phenomenon. We suspect Almodovar’s film will earn the most of the second tier titles, primarily because he has a rabid fanbase, and it’s a “horror film” from a respected filmmaker so “serious” film fans (who wouldn’t be caught dead in a horror film audience) can see it and feel good about themselves at the same time. Honestly, we think Skin looks more like a thriller, but if Almodovar wants to call it a horror flick, who are we to argue?
Of the two wide releases, it seems likely that Paranormal Activity 3 will win out. We love Carpenter’s The Thing, and the idea of a prequel is intriguing, but news that they’ve had to go back and add and re-shoot some things never inspires confidence. Plus, even though Carpenter’s film is a classic, it’s a cult classic. Expanding on that universe is tricky because the hardcore fans of the original are invariably skeptical about a prequel or remake in general, and the more mainstream audience doesn’t really have a tie to the source material in the first place. That makes The Thing a bit of a hard sell.
Paranormal Activity, meanwhile, is right in the sweet spot for horror movie franchises. The first film became a pop culture phenomenon and everyone knows the name. Moving into the third entry, the story hasn’t completely devolved into nonsense (we suspect pulling off a Paranormal Activity 4 will be more risky, however) and people haven’t started to think of the franchise as a joke – yet. Given a choice, we’re going to assume most people go see the movie with the name they’re already familiar with than one they haven’t really heard of. Because of that, we suspect that Paranormal Activity 3 will rule the horror box office next month – which means a PA4 is all but inevitable.
What do you guys think? Play prognosticator in the comment section below and let us know what horror movies you’re most looking forward to next month.