The Last Horror Blog: Vampires, Abe Lincoln and a Review of 'Phase 7'

The Last Horror Blog: Vampires, Abe Lincoln and a Review of 'Phase 7'

Jun 14, 2012

Mr. Vampire still

Juno Mak brings back hopping vampires in Rigor Mortis – Hong Kong pop star Juno Mak has been spending a lot of time in front of the camera recently, launching an acting career that’s been surprisingly well received. Now, he’s about to head behind the camera for his directorial debut with a horror flick entitled Rigor Mortis.

The film looks to revive the once popular “hopping vampire” genre of Chinese horror films – the most popular being 1985’s Mr. Vampire. Known as “geung si” in the region, the original hopping vampire films mixed fantasy and comedy, but Mak’s feature is looking to achieve something darker and far more sinister.

Reports from Twitch indicate that one of the original film’s stars – Chin Siu-ho – will also appear in this update. This is exciting news for Asian cult fans – and Twitch promises more in the near future as they’ve been granted full access to the production.

Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur

Gregory Levasseur and Alex Aja onboard for Site 146 – After years of assisting French filmmaker Alexandre Aja (on films like High Tension, Piranha 3D, and The Hills Have Eyes), Gregory Lavasseur will get his turn in the director’s chair when he helms the newly announced found footage flick Site 146.

Plot details are unknown at this point, but with a possible shooting location in Morocco, it’s easy to start imagining scenarios about archeologists digging up things best left buried – with horrifying results.

Levasseur won’t be going it alone, either – Aja will be along to help guide the project as a producer. Expect more updates on Site 146 as details gradually come to light. 

The Rising looks to take vampires to unexpected locales – When one thinks of vampires, we tend to think of sexy pale ghouls lurking around ancient European castles or crowded cities (and if you think sparkly dudes playing baseball, you’ve stumbled into the wrong column…). Alain DesRochers is looking to change that in his new film, The Rising.

DesRochers’ film is billed as a vampire flick inspired by Tarzan and Doc Savage that finds a team of mercenaries hunting a missing person in the jungles of Cambodia. Their mission takes an unexpected turn when they encounter a savage vampire in this most unlikely of places…

Nu Image/Millennium will produce the feature, which is based on a spec script from Paul Sloan. Sounds interesting so far.

Nightbreed Buttonface

Clive Barker’s Cabal Cut of Nightbreed could be coming to Blu-ray – One of the most exciting horror announcements of the past few years was the discovery of loads of footage excised from the theatrical cut of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed.

The recovered footage has been reinserted and lucky horror fans have had an opportunity to see Nightbreed the way Barker intended. Even better? Morgan Creek has given Barker their blessing to show the film in more theaters and raise funds for a restored Blu-ray release. Barker announced the news on Twitter:

Barker says Morgan Creek will allow him “to show the cut around the world and to raise money to prepare the cut for a release on Blu-ray… This could not, would not, have happened without your voices. We have all been heard. The Morgan Creek team have my thanks and my respect. Very seldom does anyone in the movie business pay attention as they have, understanding perhaps that the message of the movie as I shot it is one that dramatizes a different ending to the age-old story of how a war between Humankind and something Other draws to a close.

This is phenomenal news. Check out Occupy Midian for more updates – and enjoy the new Cabal Cut trailer below. 


Horror Review

Phase 7 DVD coverWhile mainstream horror remains mired in mediocrity (an endless sea of sequels and remakes), filmmakers abroad are picking up the slack. Much has been written about the booms in Asian and French horror over the past decade, and now the dark wave is spreading to other countries as well. Places like Uruguay have given us La Casa Muda while even Cuba is set to join the craze with Juan of the Dead. Argentina, meanwhile, offers up their own end of the world flick with the arrival of Phase 7 on DVD.

Coco (Daniel Hendler) and his pregnant wife Pipi (Jazmin Stuart) are living a normal existence when a deadly viral outbreak turns their world upside down. The government shows up at their apartment building and lets everyone know they’re under quarantine – news they take surprisingly well, until supplies start to run low and tempers begin to flare. With the outside world disintegrating around them, Coco teams up with paranoid survivalist Horacio (Yayo Guridi) in a fight against their deadly neighbors. Can this odd couple make it through the end of the world alive?

Writer-director Nicolas Goldbart plays Phase 7 mostly for laughs. What starts out feeling like a standard zombie-slash-end of the world flick soon morphs into something far more interesting, and unfortunately, uneven.

With a quirky ensemble of dense, but likable, characters Phase 7 was poised to be something really special – sort of an Argentinian Shaun of the Dead. However, the script falters in some key areas, most notably in the overarching conflict of the tale Goldbart is attempting to tell. At first, it appears that the outside world will be the antagonist. Then it’s the fellow residents. Then it’s something else entirely. Then the movie is over. Because of this, Phase 7 often feels more like a series of interconnected vignettes than a cohesive narrative whole. It’s a shame, because there’s a lot to like about the film.

While leads Hendler and Stuart are both fantastic in their roles (even though Stuart isn’t given much to do in the film’s second half), it’s Guridi who steals the film. Survivalist and conspiracy nut Horacio is a great character – funny and more than a little bit terrifying – and exactly the guy you’d want on your side when the apocalypse comes. Guridi has a great deadpan demeanor, and it works perfectly with Hendler’s less clever Coco. The bulk of Phase 7’s laughs come from their shared scenes.

This comedic chemistry makes it all the more disappointing that the narrative tone is so uneven. There’s a great film buried in here somewhere (with not only laughs and cool characters, but some great gore gags as well), but the script bogs things down. A tighter narrative focus and a worthy and consistent antagonist could have propelled Phase 7 into the “must see” category for fans of foreign apocalypse cinema, but a few missteps ultimately hold it back. A film worth seeing, but frustrating because it could have been so much more.

Horror on the Horizon

Only one major release at the box office for the next two weeks – but it’s a doozy. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is set to make its debut on June 22nd. The title is pretty much self-explanatory – our 16th president moonlights as a vampire killer. The trailers have looked amusing – but we’ll have to wait another week or so to see if the premise is strong enough to carry a full feature.

Another two weeks of slim-pickings on the DVD front. Witchslayer Gretl looks to beat Tommy Wirkola’s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters to the home market when it debuts on the 19th. Too bad Wirkola’s film has Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton in the title roles. We suspect it will be the better of the two films.

If that’s not enough to keep you occupied, the 19th also sees the arrival of the hilariously titled Disco Exorcist, a throwback to the grindhouse demonic possession films of the bellbottom era. We’ve actually heard some good things about this one – so give it a shot.

On the 26th, the ultimate backwoods survival flick hits Blu-ray when Deliverance is released. We shouldn’t have to tell you that you need to check this one out. It’s a classic for a reason – and not just because of that whole “squeal like a pig!” scene…

Also on the docket is the 1973 horror anthology flick, Tales that Witness Madness. Featuring a quartet of frightful tales and a cast that includes Donald Pleasance, Kim Novak, and Joan Collins, this one should please fans who love their horror tales in short story-sized chunks. 

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