Sundance in 60 Seconds: Bingham Ray Remembered, ‘The Surrogate’ Picked Up, 'John Dies' Blows Up Past Midnight

Sundance in 60 Seconds: Bingham Ray Remembered, ‘The Surrogate’ Picked Up, 'John Dies' Blows Up Past Midnight

Jan 24, 2012

Bingham Ray

Indie film veteran Bingham Ray, 57, has died. He suffered two strokes late last week after arriving early to attend the festival; he passed away on Monday morning, surrounded by family members. He co-founded October Films, which released many key indie titles throughout the 90s, and served in a variety of positions in the independent film world. Most recently he took up a position as executive director of the San Francisco Film Society, replacing the late Graham Leggat, who also died tragically young. Ray is survived by his wife, three children, and two siblings. (Thompson on Hollywood)

Actor Tracy Morgan, who collapsed on Sunday after attending an event where he received an award, is recovering and expects to be back to work on his TV series 30 Rock today. The actor says “the high altitude in Utah shook up this kid from Brooklyn.” (The Hollywood Reporter)

Fox Searchlight is “nailing down a deal” to acquire distribution rights to The Surrogate, directed by Ben Lewin. The drama, based on the autobiographical writings of a poet and journalist, revolves around a 38-year-old man confined to an iron lung (John Hawkes) who decides to lose his virginity with the help of a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt). William H. Macy co-stars as a priest. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Two eagerly-anticipated films debuted in the midnight hour last night. Don Coscarelli's John Dies at the End is based on a novel by David Wong, which is wildly imaginative as it tells an unbelievable tale about strange monsters that emerge in a small, unidentified town in the Midwest, possibly forboding the end of the world. Coscarelli is best known for the horror classics Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep. Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes play the unlikely potential saviors of the world, with Paul Giamatti as a doubtful journalist.

The response via Twitter arrived just past 2:00 a.m., local time:

"A film with wonderful sequences even if it's overall story is too slippery to hold." @JHoffman6 (Jordan Hoffman)

"John Dies At The End was ridiculous, of course, but a lot of fun. Now if you'll excuse me... zzzzzzzzzzzzz." @EricStriffler

"John Dies at the End - Some of the weirdest, wackiest, wildest shit I've seen in a while. My mind is warped, but it was fun as hell." @firstshowing (Alex Billington)

"Imagine Buckaroo Bonzai + more Lovecraft & ya get weird fun in John Dies At The End! To its credit, it's truly zany & that's good thing!" @yogoldsmith (Jeff Goldsmith)

"JOHN DIES AT THE END is Evil Dead II meets Dr Who. So rad!" @Aaron_Morgan

"JOHN DIES AT THE END is the marriage of material & a director meant to be together. The result is ceaselessly entertaining!" @BTSjunkie (Brian Kelley)

"A paranormal/scifi/noir/thriller, unlike any film here- ideal for a midnight screening." @lilwhy (Lily Avnet)


Grabbers, directed by Jon Wright, posits a more straightforward apocalypse, featuring strange monsters that begin preying upon the inhabitants of a small island off the coast of Ireland. The local residents soon discover that their only defense is to imbibe as much alcohol as humanly possible.

How did Twitter react?

"Grabbers was fun and funny. Glad I saw it. Monsters meets The Guard meets... I dunno, like, Animal House? Anyway, good stuff." @DorDotson

"Grabbers is highly disappointing. Some fun moments but the drunk monster fights are few and far between. Wastes opportunity." @GermainLussier

"GRABBERS is a good bit of craic!" @ErinMcCarthy

"Grabbers is great, fast-paced, engaging, scary, knowing (but not in-jokey) genre fun. Deserves to be a hit." @yo_damo

"Grabbers was fantastically fun comedy/horror film, couldn't have asked for a better ending to the best trip of my life." @IAmAleDelgado

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Categories: Features, Indie, Film Festivals
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