Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a column dedicated to all things horror on film.
Grave Encounters 2 trailer takes us back to the haunted asylum – Grave Encounters was a surprisingly effective low-budget found-footage film that reminded me of The Blair Witch Project. The sequel seems set to take the BWP inspiration even further if this new trailer for Grave Encounters 2 is any indication.
Much like Book of Shadows, Grave Encounters 2 is set to take the meta approach – featuring a cast of characters who are supposedly “real” people out to prove that the original film wasn’t just a movie. Naturally, it looks like they get everything they hoped for. This approach didn’t work so well for The Blair Witch Project, but maybe Grave Encounters 2 can pull it off. Have a peek at the trailer and see what you think. [via STYD]
Max Minghella joins Horns – Alexandre Aja is hard at work prepping for his screen adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel Horns – and today we’ve learned a new cast member has been added. Actor Max Minghella will play opposite star Daniel Radcliffe in the dark drama about a young man who grows devil horns that allow him to coerce people to spill their darkest secrets.
Sources indicate Minghella will play Lee Tourneau – the main character’s friend – in the feature. Shooting is scheduled to commence this fall, so expect more casting updates in the weeks ahead. [via BD]
Mick Taylor stalks the outback again in Wolf Creek 2 – After a series of false starts (and a lengthy seven-year wait), it appears that Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek 2 is finally going to happen.
The long-awaited follow-up to one of the better serial killer films of this century has secured funding from Screen Australia. This replaces money lost earlier this year and finally paves the way for John Jarratt to reprise his role as a psychopath stalking the wilds of Australia.
The original film found an audience because it was marketed as being “based on true events.” While technically true, the story was really a pastiche of a number of different real-life tragedies (including the Bradley John Murdoch abduction case in 2001) and not a factual recounting of any one event.
We don’t have any plot specifics yet, but earlier reports indicate this will also be a sequel inspired by real life events. [Twitch]
Chink teaser proves you’ve gotta watch out for the quiet ones – We’ve had countless movies chronicling serial killers over the past few decades – mass murderers and serial slayers apparently captivate audiences to no end. That being said, if you thought you’d seen everything this subgenre has to offer, think again. Chink might change your mind.
Rather than follow the standard loner white male as he begins his quest to become a prolific murderer, first-time filmmaker Stanley Yung gives us an Asian-American killer in his upcoming film. Eddy Tsai (Jason Tobin) is a seemingly pleasant young man with a dark secret – he wants to be the next Ted Bundy. Yung’s film follows him as he learns and practices his craft.
Hong Kong Category III films have covered this ground for years (The Untold Story and Dr. Lam are good starting points), but we can’t recall another film that featured an Asian-American killer plying his trade here in the States. That alone has us interested in checking out the film. Have a peek at the teaser below and see what you think. [Twitch]
While no one ever expected Fred Andrews’ 2011 monster movie Creature to take the box office by storm, the film came up short even when compared to the lowered expectations that surround no-budget horror flicks. For whatever reason, someone decided it would be a great idea to release Creature theatrically on over 1500 screens. The end result was a haul of just over $500,000 – making Creature a historical footnote for all the wrong reasons: it was the lowest-grossing film to open on that many screens in history.
And while Creature certainly is a pretty underwhelming movie experience, it’s not quite that bad. This isn’t Manos: The Hands of Fate or Plan 9 – it’s just a low-budget horror flick that should have gone straight to DVD. I admire the aspirations of the people behind it – even if they were delusional in believing this thing was worthy of a theatrical release in the first place. But hey, after Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity, who can blame indie horror filmmakers for daring to dream big?
The difference between Creature and those other two successful films (aside from the fact that they were found-footage movies and Creature is a straight narrative) is that Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity were relatively original. While neither story was particularly groundbreaking, at least the presentation made them feel different from their inspirations. Creature, on the other hand, is as derivative as you can get. From the opening stinger to the final jump scare, there’s not a single original thought in this film – not one. Go look. I’ll wait.
The story focuses on a group of young adults (Mehcad Brooks, Serinda Swan, Dillon Casey, Amanda Fuller and so on…) who are out on a road trip. The journey takes a detour when they stop in an isolated gas station (run by Sid Haig, who’s essentially reprising his Captain Spaulding role from Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects) and learn about a local legend involving a half-man, half-alligator monster that’s been picking off the locals for years. Naturally, they stop to check it out.
From there, it’s pretty predictable (as if things weren’t already predictable up to this point…) with a few minor reveals that are telegraphed so obviously and early on that they’re not so much surprises as narrative foredrawn conclusions. Alligator-man is real, he’s hungry, and this group makes good food and has a tie to his past. Ho hum.
The biggest problem with Creature is the overt familiarity of the plot. Horror films have been milking archetypal stories and characters for forever, but there’s something about this particular film that rubbed me the wrong way. There’s no attempt at all at originality in the script. Everything is borrowed from a better story or film. Pastiches are fine – but this isn’t so much a loving homage to older, better, monster movies as it is just a soulless attempt to retell better stories and hope no one cares enough to notice. There’s no spark, no passion, in this production. This is a by-the-numbers affair that feels more like it’s ticking off plot elements on a checklist than telling a story.
The characters are flat and largely unlikable. The performers are forced to try to bring depth and personality to fictional people who don’t really have any. Haig fares the best, but only because he’s given free reign to ham it up at will and he’s good at playing the seemingly demented redneck.
Even the monster is a bore. A half alligator, half man? The backstory is ludicrous, the creature isn’t impressive, and most of the gore is kept off the screen. Because of this, Creature is a film that manages to screw up just about everything.
We could sit here all day talking about the ways in which Creature underwhelms. Really, though, what’s the point? This is a film that had no business ever playing theatrically. It’s barely watchable even by direct-to-video standards. The story drags on for forever even though it’s just recycling ideas and situations and the whole thing’s so forgettable that you’ll struggle to recall what annoyed you the next day. Creature isn’t the worst film I’ve seen by a longshot, but it is one that’s so uninspired that it’s not worth remembering what was wrong with it in the first place.
Horror on the Horizon
Ah, the start of September – a good time for horror fans as we inch ever closer to the bounty of Halloween horror releases…
This first Friday of the month brings us the limited release of [REC] 3. The newest installment in the popular Spanish horror franchise finds the monster menace moving out of the quarantined building and into a wedding party. The title already made its VOD debut, but if you live in a big city and want the theatrical experience, check your local listings to see if it’s playing in your town.
The week of September 14 brings us the latest installment of the ever-popular Resident Evil franchise with the wide release of Resident Evil: Retribution. Milla Jovovich is back alongside filmmaker-slash-husband Paul W.S. Anderson for another battle against the evil Umbrella Corp. and its zombie monsters.
That week also sees the limited release of Bait 3D – which finds a group of people trapped in an underground mall infested with sharks and criminals in the wake of a tsunami. I’d say you can’t make this stuff up, but someone did. We’re excited about this one – could be a cheesy classic.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases
While things are jumping for horror fans theatrically, home video practically explodes with cool titles over the course of the next two weeks.
September 11 sees the release of The Loved Ones (finally!), a deluxe collector’s edition of the much-loved television fright flick Dark Night of the Scarecrow, and the Criterion Collection release of The Game.
For September 18, fright fans can look forward to Shout! Factory’s new imprint Scream Factory releasing DVD and Blu-ray versions of Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch. I was lucky enough to get review copies of both discs, and I can tell you they’re pretty snazzy.
If that’s not enough, we also get the DVD and Blu-ray debut of Cabin the Woods, Supernatural’s seventh season, and Bait 3D (so if it’s not showing near you, don’t fret – you can still see it).
I think it’s safe to say we’ve all got a lot of movies to watch over the course of the next two weeks – and that’s a good problem to have.