The Last Horror Blog: 'Van Helsing' to be a Real Reboot, Plus a 'Hellraiser: Revelations' Review

The Last Horror Blog: 'Van Helsing' to be a Real Reboot, Plus a 'Hellraiser: Revelations' Review

Jun 28, 2012

Hugh Jackman in Van HelsingVan Helsing update is a “total reboot” – Last month, Universal revealed they're moving ahead with another Van Helsing film – this one featuring Tom Cruise as the title character instead of Hugh Jackman – but yesterday we learned some new details from producer Alex Kurtzman. It turns out this is a full reboot of the potential franchise.

“Well, I don’t want to give away too much, because we are actually at the very beginning of talking about what to do with it. But I do feel like the Van Helsing that Anthony Hopkins plays in [Bram Stoker’s] Dracula is sort of the parody version of it, and the Van Helsing that Hugh Jackman played was obviously in a different place as well. I think that these kinds of movies have evolved a lot since then. You know, The Dark Knight was a major, major corner-turning moment in the way that genre and superhero stories could be told. Really grounded in reality. Really grounded in really cool things. That’s what I’d like to do without sacrificing the fantasy element. We aspired to do that as well on Trek, you know, keep it “real.” That’s such a different franchise than Batman, but that’s really what we wanted to do. And we’d love to do that with Van Helsing."

I was not the biggest fan of Hopkins’ take on Van Helsing in Coppola’s film, but calling it a “parody” seems to be reading it incorrectly. Hammy, yes. A parody? Not so much. At any rate, you won’t need to suffer through the original Van Helsing before catching the new version. I think we all win there. 


Revenant still shot

Zombie comedy The Revenant locks down an official release date – Zombie fatigue may be setting in for hardcore horror fans who’ve endured one walking dead film after another, but even the most jaded gore geek should be excited by news that The Revenant is finally coming to DVD.

This zombie comedy, starring David Anders and Chris Wylde, focuses on a soldier and his best buddy who wind up zombies and then, "use their newfound powers to become vigilante crime fighters with hilariously mixed results when their adventures become more complicated and bloody than expected.”

A hit on the festival circuit, the film has finally procured distribution for a mainstream release. New York-based distributor Paladin will launch a small (10 markets) theatrical run this August. The film will make its VOD debut on the same day. At some point after that, Lionsgate will handle the DVD release of the title.

While the press release doesn’t offer an exact date, August is exciting enough – at long last, fans will finally be able to see one of the better zombie comedies to emerge in recent years. That’s good news for everyone.  Check out the Not Safe For Work Trailer below.

Munger Road coming to VOD and DVD this fall – Indie chiller Munger Road got a very limited theatrical release last year (it only played in the Chicago area – but averaged a take of over $30,000 per screen), but the rest of America will get to experience Nicholas Smith’s tale of terror on September 21st – when the film finally appears on VOD and DVD.

The film takes place in a small town where two local cops must contend with a killer from the past while protecting an influx of visitors who’ve come for the annual scarecrow festival. While only rated PG-13, the film looks atmospheric and should please fright fans who don’t need a lot of gore in their horror flicks. Don’t take my word for it, though – check out the trailer for yourself. 

The Asylum debuts trailer for 100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck – Notorious mass murderer Richard Speck has been dead for over two decades, that but won’t stop the folks at The Asylum studios from digging up his ghost to star in its very own found footage film.

Dubbed 100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck, this new title sends a group of paranormal investigators to the site of Speck’s infamous crime. Naturally, they get more than they bargained for and all that’s left is some videotape footage showcasing how they all met their grisly demises.

We got a peek at the first trailer for the production – and it basically looks like every other low budget found footage flick we’ve seen recently. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but “supernatural explorers running into real ghosts” is becoming this decade’s Japanese ghost girl it seems. You just can’t escape it. Check out the trailer below. 100 Ghost Street debuts on DVD this July 24th

Horror Review

Hellraiser Revelations blu-ray artOutside of Jaws and Children of the Corn, it’s hard to think of a movie franchise that’s had a more depressing run of sequels than Hellraiser. Clive Barker’s smart and terrifying meditation on pain and pleasure was a genuine breath of fresh air when it debuted in 1987 – a perfect counter to the sea of slasher movies that had become synonymous with the genre for nearly a decade.

Barker’s film resonated with audiences because it was clever and a little bit risque – the S&M undertones of the Cenobites’ philosophy was a lot more taboo in a pre-Internet world where every conceivable kind of kink wasn’t a mere click away. The inclusion of the eloquent Pinhead (played brilliantly by Doug Bradley) only helped cement the film’s iconic status. Pinhead was the anti-slasher – urbane and well-spoken, he was the complete antithesis of mute killers like Jason and Michael Myers, but also less of a cartoon caricature than Freddy Krueger in the subsequent Elm Street sequels.

The second film, Hellbound, has the rare distinction of being a sequel that’s arguably better than the title that inspired it. Unfortunately, it’s all been downhill from there. After Hellraiser 4: Bloodlines, the series disappeared from the theatrical landscape and moved to the direct to video market. The subsequent sequels are memorable only for how awful they are – and how Dimension Films acquired unrelated scripts and just tossed Bradley’s Pinhead into them to make them Hellraiser movies.

The studio promised horror fans that they’d make things right and that Hellraiser would once again be a major horror franchise when they announced a reboot/remake of Barker’s original film. In the aftermath of that announcement, directors came and went (Inside helmers Alexandre Bustillo and Julian Maury were attached at one point, as was Martyrs creator Pascal Laugier – who was perfect for the gig), and we saw a terrible mock up of what a modern Pinhead might look like from Gary Tunnicliffe. Then, nothing.

While the reboot lingers in a limbo not unlike purgatory, Dimension had to make a new Hellraiser film or risk losing the rights to the property. As such, they rounded up a script from Tunnicliffe and hired director Victor Garcia to churn out a quick and cheap entry to fulfill their obligation. The result is Hellraiser: Revelations – another blemish on the brilliant mythology Barker created all those years ago.

Revelations feels a lot like a film student’s reinterpretation of Barker’s classic. It’s decidedly low budget (they don’t even bother with effects shots of the Cenobites arriving after the Lament Configuration is opened – Pinhead and crew are just suddenly there), it borrows plot elements from the original film wholesale (as well as the novella that inspired it, The Hellbound Heart), and they’ve hired a cast of wannabe actors who aren’t up to recreating the important roles.

This is particularly true of Stephan Smith Collins, who has the unenviable task of replacing Doug Bradley as Pinhead. To be fair, this was a losing proposition for Collins – replacing Bradley is like trying to take over as Dracula for Christopher Lee. There was no way the fans would approve. The problem is that Collins just doesn’t make a great Pinhead – he kinda looks the part (although he’s heavier than Bradley – it’s sort of like the Halloween 4 situation, where Michael Myers suddenly put on a ton of weight), but he doesn’t have Bradley’s presence. Bradley’s Pinhead works not only because he’s eloquent and strangely seductive, but because of the way he moves and carries himself. Collins can don the make-up and have a bunch of nails stuck in his head, but he doesn’t capture the things that really make Pinhead iconic. As such, the performance feels like a bad pantomime.

The rest of the cast isn’t any better. The film focuses on privileged teen jerks Steven (Nick Eversman) and Nico (Jay Gillespie) who head to Mexico, kill a hooker, find the Lemarchand Box, and disappear – only to return when the box is opened at the California home of Steven’s family. Naturally, Pinhead doesn’t take losing souls lightly (although you’d think he might have tightened up security after the first film…) and soon he and his merry band of torturers are on the scene and the hook-flaying begins in earnest.

Revelations had a rumored budget of $300,000, which is tiny. It shows regularly in the film – which was hurried through production to beat the rights expiration deadline. Garcia is not an awful director – but the budget constraints and ridiculous shooting schedule certainly lessen his work in this outing. Shot set-ups are perfunctory and not even as good what you’d find on television, the FX are incredibly fake looking (because Garcia clearly doesn’t have time to find the best way to shoot them), and the whole production just feels really rushed. That’s not to say that more time would have saved the film – because the script and casting are still a disaster – but it certainly would have looked better than it does.

The most damning thing of all is that for as terrible as Revelations is – and it is terrible – it’s not significantly worse than some of the recent sequels. This ninth film in the Hellraiser franchise can at least say it was based on a script written to be a Hellraiser movie from the start – and not just some screenplay with Hellraiser elements grafted onto it.

That being said, it’s hard to imagine anyone liking Revelations. Hardcore Hellraiser fans will be put off by the omission of Doug Bradley and more casual observers will see how cheap the film looks and give up before they reach the thirty minute mark. The only quasi-redeeming quality here is that Revelations is only 75 minutes long – but like the exquisite tortures Pinhead regularly promises, it feels like an eternity.

Horror on the Horizon

Not a lot of theatrical horror heading into July. The 6th sees the limited release of IFC Midnight’s The Pact, but that’s it. Fall can’t get here soon enough at this point…

DVD fanatics don’t fare much better. Dimension offers up a three movie “Horror Fest” disc on the 3rd (featuring not only the above reviewed Hellraiser: Revelations, but the awful Children of the Corn: Genesis too. The set also includes Zombie Diaries 2). There is some light at the end of the tunnel, though – the highly regarded Some Guy Who Kills People also makes it debut that week. That one’s definitely worth a look. Those looking to go a little more retro will definitely want to make note of The Entity’s DVD and Blu-ray release as well. That cult hit features Barbara Hershey and Ron Silver.

The week of the tenth offers up the uncut version of Steve Nile’s Remains, and the “not-really-horror-but-still-worth-checking-out” releases of Brainstorm and Altered States.

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