Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a biweekly column on all things horror.
Fede Alvarez leaves Evil Dead 2? -- Back in March, everything was wine and roses surrounding Fede Alvarez's rebooting of The Evil Dead. Sam Raimi loved it, fans turned out in droves, and talk was that a sequel was already in development. So, that makes yesterday's revelation that Alvarez and writing partner Rodo Sayagues are no longer involved in the sequel (and haven't been for months) pretty shocking. Sayagues offered the following info about the duo's departure:
"Look, I am sorry to tell you this but that movie won’t happen. Evil Dead 2 is not going to happen, at least not with us involved. We left that project many months ago because we preferred to put our energies on other things. I don’t know if the producers still have intentions of making it. But what I can tell you is that we are not part of that project."
Not so fast, though -- as of last evening, Alvarez himself has come out to say that he and Sayagues are still very much involved in the sequel.
The filmmaker first tweeted "Don't believe everything you read online" (which sounds like sage advice), then elaborated, saying that the story was inspired by a translation error over at the original website and that he and Sayagues are still very much involved -- they're simply putting the second film on the backburner so things can progress with Raimi's Army of Darkness 2. Hopefully this is the case -- Alvarez did a decent job with the reboot.
Reality sucks in Viking Vampire -- The Internet loves a good mash-up, and two things that haven't been paired up yet are Vikings and vampires. That's all set to change now, with the upcoming Norwegian film Viking Vampire. Details are scarce for this foreign project, but we do know that a group of reality show contestants accidentally free Viking king Eirik Bloodtooth from his resting place -- and all hell breaks loose. Sounds cool -- the world can always use more badass vikings.
Tower of the Dead sounds a lot like The Horde -- Dog Soldiers actors Craig Conway and Sean Pertwee have reteamed to take on another supernatural menace in the upcoming film Tower of the Dead. The movie, which sounds an awful lot like French film The Horde, finds an armed response team joining forces with the arms dealers they were tasked with brining down to take on a high-rise filled with the undead. While not an official remake, maybe this version can maximize the potential of the premise, something the French film failed to do.
Last year, horror fans got a bit of a Halloween treat with the release of V/H/S -- a found-footage anthology film crafted by some of the biggest up-and-coming names in the genre. Now, a mere 12 months later, a sequel is out to creep up your holiday -- but is V/H/S/2 able to expand upon the ideas of the original in a compelling way?
The short answer is sort of -- this second go-round on the found-footage carousel brings some new filmmakers into the fold (while some, like Adam Wingard, return for a second tour of duty) and the sequel certainly feels more assured and streamlined than the first film (it also drops some of that film's overreliance on "bro-dude" protagonists). The problem is that a few of these new tales of terror aren't quite as effective as the shorts featured in the first film. Because of this, V/H/S/2 feels like a bit of a mixed bag.
Things start off promisingly with another frame story. Thankfully, this new plot device is more focused and leaner than the one that propelled audiences through the original VHS. Two people searching for a missing student find themselves confronted with stacks of musty old VHS tapes in a creepy house during the course of their investigation -- which serves as the perfect setup to launch the four stories that make up the anthology.
The film proper kicks off with Adam Wingard's Phase 1 Clinical Trials -- a piece about a man (Wingard) who receives a cybernetic eye implant that allows him to see the dead. The tale starts off in a sort of lighthearted fashion, but soon shifts gears when Wingard's character meets up with another girl who can hear the dead. Unfortunately, aside from some great jump scares, there's not a whole lot of meat to this tale. Still, as an opening act it's amusing.
This amusing tone carries over into the second story, Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale's A Ride in the Park. What starts out like a traditional zombie story soon becomes something different than we expected thanks to the perspective. If you've ever wondered what life (or undeath) was like for zombies, then this entry will answer the question. The clip makes good use of the Go Pro mini cameras and puts us right into the center of the action. It's not a terrifying short, but it has some cool moments for sure.
Things finally get more horrific in the third entry, Gareth Huw Evans and Timo Tjahjanto's Safe Haven -- which is easily the standout (and longest) segment in the anthology. Evans (who directed The Raid) and Tjahjanto craft an elaborate and unsettling tale about a film crew interviewing a cult leader at his compound in the jungles of Indonesia. Things get harrowing when an unexpected event sends the cult careening out of control and the crew must fight for their very survival. Evans and Tjahjanto leave no stone unturned in the short, which features violence, gore and some other cool effects I won't spoil here. The film has a great last shot that reminded me a lot of a classic Jacques Tourneur film (which I'll not name for fear of spoiling the scene). This entry is every bit as good as Radio Silence's segment in the original V/H/S.
V/H/S/2 then closes with Jason Eisener's Slumber Party Alien Abduction -- an entry that could have been every bit as cool as Safe Haven, but ultimately falls short because of the found-footage format. Eisener's installment follows a group of kids having a slumber party who get unexpected visitors in the form of extraterrestrials. The catch here is the whole thing is shot with a camera mounted on the family dog -- which sounds cool, until you realize how bouncy and jerky this makes all of the camerwork in the short. I'm not one of those people who gets motion sickness easily, but it's really hard to tell what's happening when the cool stuff starts in Eisener's entry. That's a downer, because some of it is very cool.
Complaints aside, V/H/S/2 is certainly worth a look for fans of the original film. Safe Haven alone should please hard-core horror fans, with the rest of the tales serving as an interesting appetizer for this main course. V/H/S/2 isn't perfect, but neither was the original -- but it's nice to see these directors attempting to revitalize the anthology and short film formats.
Horror on the Horizon
October is coming to a close without any major theatrical horror releases, and the opening of November isn't faring any better. There's not a single horror film opening at your local multiplex in the next two weeks. The holidays are a rough time for fright freaks.
Things aren't much better on DVD. The week of November 5 sees some low-budget stuff debuting alongside Stephen King's Under the Dome. The real highlight is a 10th anniversary edition of Park Chan Wook's Oldboy -- hard to believe it's been 10 years already.
The week of November 12 is a little better -- we get Scream Factory's release of John Carpenter's rarely seen anthology film Body Bags, a Kino Classics release of Nosferatu, and the debut of the Irish horror comedy Grabbers.
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