On the Edge of Blade Runner

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Looking for the perfect way to spend a quiet Monday evening? Here’s a wonderful BBC documentary based on Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (oddly hosted by comic genius Chris Morris).

I can still remember the cold rainy day when I saw this film (at far too young an age). A groundbreaking film that never fails to make an impression and make me feel like I am watching it for the first time… I love Blade Runner.

As a bonus, here’s a lovely film about the life of author Philip K Dick with some very special cameos.

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Free to watch: “The Thing” documentary!

Exploring the dark interior of the mind and soul, the horror movie is one of the most revered of cult film genres. With a body of work spanning over 40 years, filmmaker John Carpenter is an icon of horror. While there are many movies that Carpenter has directed which have a strong following (including Dark Star, Halloween, The Fog, Christine, Escape From New York, and Big Trouble in Little China), “The Thing” remains one of his most revered efforts.

Including interviews with the cast and crew, behind-the-scenes footage and storyboards, this amazing documentary provides a unique glimpse into the production of the John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and is not to be missed.

In the winter of 1982, a twelve-man research team at a remote Antarctic research station discovers an alien buried in the snow for over 100,000 years. Soon unfrozen, the form-changing alien wreaks havoc, creates terror and begins killing the researchers one by one.

Source: Free to watch: “The Thing” documentary!

Turkish Star Wars

hqdefault2343Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam (The Man Who Saved the World) is a 1982 Turkish adventure film also known as Turkish Star Wars. It’s also one of the most bizarre low-fi science fiction films this side of 2001’s The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.

Via DangerousMinds: Directed by Çetin Inanç and starring Turkish action superstar Cüneyt Arkin, The Man Who Saved The World is an amazingly over-the-top knock-off of George Lucas’s Star Wars. Popularly known as Turkish Star Wars for reasons that are clearly apparent, this Turkish slab of cinematic taffy stretches the boundaries of disbelief to the breaking point. And that’s what makes it a far more entertaining film than the one it rips off. I’ve forgotten most of the original Star Wars but I’ll never forget Cüneyt Arkin doing battle with a gigantic psychopathic shag carpet using only a cardboard sabre (completely lightless) and some well-placed karate chops.

Turkish film writer Evrim Esroy’s sums up Turkish Star Wars nicely:

Director Çetin İnanç‘s attempt to create the ultimate Turkish science fiction epic has all the trademarks of the genre: a mash-up of American cinema tradition and Turkish mythology bound together by the insane desire to reach infinitely beyond its microscopic budget. Two pilots who find their ships mysteriously crashing on an alien planet end up fighting an evil dictatorial emperor plotting to destroy Earth. But no summary can do this wild mix justice. From its z-grade, beautiful inhabitants to the endless borrowed shots literally spliced in from the actual STAR WARS, this is lo-fi filmmaking at an unparalleled best.

The movie was a bomb when it was first released, but became a cult hot in the US after it was picked up by the improv troupe Foleyvision who provided a new soundtrack live in house.

The ‘Turkish Star Wars’ film was recently screened at the Alamo Draft House and gained even more followers (no doubt riding the fortuitous release of Episode VII: The Force Awakens). Nevertheless, unless you live near one of the Alamo Draft House cinemas or the hip equivalent, it is much harder to come by this obscurity.

Fortunately, J. Sprig has made a dub of the film, replacing the audio track with a playlist of psych and punk rock Turkish music… and it is awesome (man the soundtrack is unbelievable!).

Turkish Star Wars from J. Sprig on Vimeo.

Recommended:
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Godzilla/King Kong Rematch Announced for 2020

Not satisfied with new Star Wars, Batman, Superman, Avengers and Star Trek films? Prepare for the next wave of nostalgia as Godzilla and King Kong face off once again on the big screen.

While the first Godzilla film directed by Ishirō Honda was released in 1954 and remains an icon of monster movies, it wasn’t until 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla that the King of Monsters gained worldwide notoriety which catapulted the creature into superstardom.

So it should come as no surprise that after the success of the 2014 Legendary Godzilla film directed by Gareth Edwards, a new trilogy has been planned including a bout with the giant gorilla, Kong.
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Via Legendary Pictures:

KONG: SKULL ISLAND confirmed for 2017, GODZILLA 2 for 2018, GODZILLA VS. KONG for 2020

Burbank, CA – October 14, 2015 – Following Legendary’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ 2014 success with the global reinvention of the Godzilla franchise, the companies have come together to create an epic, new shared cinematic franchise. All-powerful monsters become towering heroes for a new generation, revealing a mythology that brings together Godzilla and Legendary’s King Kong in an ecosystem of other giant super-species, both classic and new. Monarch, the human organization that uncovered Godzilla in the 2014 film, will expand their mission across multiple releases.

The announcement that the reinvention of monsters continues was made today by Legendary CEO, Thomas Tull and Kevin Tsujihara, Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. The initial trio of films are 2017’s KONG: SKULL ISLAND, GODZILLA 2 in 2018 and then GODZILLA VS. KONG, arriving in theaters in 2020. While Legendary maintains its new home at Universal Pictures, the GODZILLA films remain in partnership with Warner Bros., who will now also distribute KONG as a part of this franchise. Production on KONG: SKULL ISLAND begins October 19th.

Warner Bros. and Legendary released Godzilla in May 2014 with an agreement to release Godzilla 2 on June 8, 2018. Both films feature the human Monarch organization. Shortly following Legendary’s pact with NBC Universal, Legendary acquired rights to additional classic characters from Toho’s Godzilla universe, including Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. This paved the way for developing a franchise centered around Monarch and anchored by Godzilla, King Kong, and other famous creatures.

When Legendary announced films centered on Godzilla and Kong, fans all over the world speculated these two characters might one day meet in the same film. Classic Toho monsters including King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan, as announced at Comic-Con 2014, may also join the Legendary pantheon of giant monster mayhem going forward.

“Audiences really responded to Godzilla,” stated Tull. “Today, I’m excited to reveal that film was only the beginning of an epic new entertainment universe. As a lifelong fan of these characters, I’ve always wanted to see the ultimate showdown, and today we’re pleased to be announcing that and more.”

“Working with our partners at Legendary, we enjoyed tremendous creative and commercial success with `Godzilla,’” said Tsujihara. “It’s great to be able to revisit these characters and help create a franchise with so many creative possibilities for filmmakers. Fans love these big, globally iconic films and it doesn’t get any bigger than this.”

About the Productions

KONG: SKULL ISLAND stars Tom Hiddleston, Sam Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Tian Jing, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, and Toby Kebbell. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and written by Max Borenstein, John Gatins, Dan Gilroy, and Derek Connolly, KONG: SKULL ISLAND will fully immerse audiences in the mysterious and dangerous home of the king of the apes as a team of explorers ventures deep inside the treacherous, primordial island. Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni will produce with Mary Parent. Alex Garcia and Eric McLeod will executive produce. Warner Bros. will distribute the film in 3D and IMAX 3D on March 10, 2017.

GODZILLA 2 will be written by Max Borenstein and directed by Gareth Edwards. Legendary is producing with Mary Parent and Alex Garcia will executive produce. The film is set to be released by Warner Bros. on June 8, 2018.

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“It’s on!”

GODZILLA VS. KONG will be released in 2020.

Scary Movies: ‘Asylum’ (1972)

‘Never turn your back on a patient.’
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An anthology film consisting of four tales (“Frozen Fear,” “The Weird Tailor,” “Lucy Comes To Stay,” and “Mannikins of Horror”) with a framing story, Asylum is from Amicus. Based in world famous Shepperton Studios, Amicus produced horror from 60’s and 70’s (as well as the only Doctor Who feature films to date). They are primarily known for this type of anthology movie which is an economic treat as it offers up numerous short stories whereas most movies provide just the one.

The framing tale centers on Dr. Martin, a young man attending the weirdest job interview ever at a mental institution. He visits four patients and listens to their ramblings as the viewer is taken along for a flashback. It’s yet another case in a long line of films in which the mentally ill are presented as incurably demented and lost and the treatment is barbaric. That said… gripping stuff.

Written by Robert Bloch (of Psycho fame) and directed by Roy Ward Baker who had previously worked on the excellent Quatermass and The Pit as well as the controversial Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, Asylum is a portmanteau piece starring luminaries of horror and cult film such as Peter Cushing, Patrick Magee, Britt Ekland and Barry Morse. The asylum itself is a test of sorts as Dr. Martin must guess which of the patients is former Doctor Starr, who recently lost his marbles and is now incurably insane.

In fact, all of the patients are deemed incurable. Luckily they also have tantalizing tales to tell explaining how they ended up at the asylum. It’s all traditional fare in the vein of Poe or the pulps, but the segments are told with aplomb and directed with a remarkable eye for the fantastic.

The performances are by and large downplayed with a few exceptions such as Barry Morse (of Space 1999) playing the part of the down on his luck tailor constructing a suit made from otherworldly material for Peter Cushing (the stand out part of the film for me).

‘Georgy Girl’ starlet Charlotte Ramping is stunning as a young woman losing her mind as she pops pills and is visited by Britt Eckland (we should all be so lucky) and Richard Todd finds a unique (though tried and true) method of divorce… with disastrous results.

A fun and witty romp, Asylum is full of creepy yet entertaining moments (the clockwork homunculus is both stirring and side-splitting) and features a remarkable cast and a sharply written script. The violence is mostly downplayed and the usual titillation found in movies of this era is absent, making this a relatively tame horror flick. If you are a fan of other Amicus films of the 1970’s, this is right up your alley and the perfect way to spent a cold October evening.

Trailer

Richard Stanley to adapt Lovecraft’s Colour Out of Space

“It was just a colour out of space—a frightful messenger from unformed realms of infinity beyond all Nature as we know it; from realms whose mere existence stuns the brain and numbs us with the black extra-cosmic gulfs it throws open before our frenzied eyes.”

Considered by many to be one of Lovecraft’s best works, the short story Colour Out of Space will soon become a motion picture… again. This will mark the third instance in which the story has been adapted, previously as Die, Monster, Die! in 1965 and later as The Curse in 87.
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The film is an adaptation of famed “weird” author H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, “The Colour Out of Space,” about a meteorite that drives people insane. Stanley will direct and pen the screenplay for the project, which he has been working on for several years. “There needs to be a scary Lovecraft movie,” Stanley said last year. “I want to make a bad trip film and ‘The Colour…’ definitely has what it takes to be a very, very bad trip indeed.”

“H.P. Lovecraft is the undisputed father of literary horror, and yet, bafflingly, there has yet to be a cinematic treatment that captures the dark beauty of the man’s oeuvre,” said SpectreVision cofounder Daniel Noah, in a statement. “Richard Stanley’s note perfect adaptation of Color Out of Space represents an epiphany for me — as it no doubt will be for legions of Lovecraft devotees around the world.”

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Richard Stanley was once regarded as the next big thing in Hollywood, before the mega project Island of Dr. Moreau blew up. He’s a gifted director and has a very distinctive vision which should make this film a delight. I’m a big fan of Stanley’s other films, Hardware and Dust Devil. The documentary Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau is currently streaming on Netflix and well worth a look.

Damian Lewis possibly the next Bond

Since the Dr. No feature film back in 1962, James Bond has been synonymous with action, adventure and questionable attitudes towards women. Of course the film series only saw real success after Goldfinger in 1964, but it is considered an institution today alongside Star Wars, Batman, Indiana Jones, the Terminator, Herbie the Love Bug, etc.

JamesBondThere have 6 main actors to play 007 in the films with Daniel Craig’s final outing ‘Spectre’ to be released in November of this year. After that, who will take up the signature pistol?

The current theory is that Damian Lewis will be the next Bond in an as-yet unannounced James Bond story. The franchise took a major step backwards during the Pierce Brosnan era (say what you will… but Die Another Day was dire) but Casino Royal brought back Bond’s reputation as a modern icon. Removing the gadgets and quips, the new Bond was all gritty action and fury. Skyfall paid homage to the legacy of the films and Spectre seems to embrace more of the classic themes and ideas. It could be an ideal time to bring in a fresh face as well.

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Via THR:

It may well be a shameless attempt to generate column inches, but one U.K. bookmaker has, out of the blue, slashed its odds of Homeland star Damian Lewis being named the next James Bond.

William Hill revealed on Monday that it had dramatically dropped Lewis’ price from an outsider 25/1 to near-favorite 3/1, just short of hot tip Idris Elba, currently 5/2, and putting the actor firmly in contention ahead of Tom Hardy (4/1), Henry Cavill (5/1) and Michael Fassbender (7/1).

“This is an unprecedented gamble, as for no apparent reason we have seen bets of up to £200 [$312] on Damian Lewis being named as the next Bond. This could well be significant and might herald the end of Daniel Craig as the world’s most famous spy,” said a spokesperson.

Lewis has previously hinted at his desire to play the famed superspy, joking in 2013 that the Scottish heritage outlined in Skyfall had “paved the way perfectly for a red-headed Bond.”

Even though the net is awash with this story, there are so many actors who were considered or screen tested that were never chosen James Bond. I thought this would be an interesting time to address some of them:

NivenDavid Niven, the gentlemen actor, was author Ian Fleming’s preferred choice for the part. He was understandably disappointed by the studio’s choice of Sean Connery. Niven did get a chance to play Bond (after a fashion) in the Casino Royal spoof film.

TheIpcressFile1965Michael Caine was well-known as a spy in 1965’s The Ipcress File and Funeral in Berlin (1966) so he wasn’t interested in making a living out of being a spy.

There are so many actors who were considered for the role but never played James Bond such as Oliver Reed (no, really). I would love to know the reason why Terrance Stamp (renowned for his portrayal of General Zod in Superman II) or William Gaunt (of the Champions) was never Bond. I’m grateful beyond belief that actors such as Sam Neil, Christopher Lambert, Mel Gibson, and James Brolin were passed on.

But imagine my surprise when I learned that Paul McGann auditioned for the part of 007.

Yes… Doctor Who was almost James Bond.
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So until it is official, don’t believe the hype. Personally, I hold out hope for Idris Elba.
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Mad Max: Fury Road (1979)

mad-max-fury-roadGeorge Miller’s Mad Max Fury Road isn’t just a film, it’s a wild explosive ride that has awakened the era of late 1970’s-80’s nostalgia. Sure, this has been coming for a while with the seemingly endless sequels and prequels to films such as Alien, Predator and Terminator and the callbacks to this era of dystopian futures, technology gone mad and monsters from the edge of a nightmarish dimension.
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However, Fury Road offers no reference point, little to no backstory and very little actual dialog. It’s a world of violence reduced to a car chase along a desolate landscape. As MST3K creator Joel Hodgson pointed out, it’s a weird remake of Hanna Barbera’s Wacky Races.

WackyracesMiller has stated that the home video release of Fury Road will feature a black and white version (which he insists is essential) and I applaud this approach.

One fan has taken this approach to enhancing the retro look and feel of Mad Max a step further with a trailer for Fury Road that pays homage to the seminal film.

And it’s wonderful.
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I recently watched Mad Max on blu-ray for the first time in decades. My memory was that the plot revolved around oil and gangs vying for survival at any cost (no doubt my memory was mismatched with Road Warrior and Beyond Thunder Dome). But Mad Max isn’t concerned with these things. In the first film of this epic, we are witnesses to a world dissolving into chaos, ruled by violence and set on destruction with our ‘hero’ Max caught in the eye of the storm. This makes Mad Max a much grimmer and more upsetting film than I recalled. The innovative action sequences and weird characters are few and far between. It’s Hell on Earth. And in the 80’s, this vision of the future was all too familiar.

I wonder what it means that such a vision is in vogue again.

Can’t we just get beyond Thunder Dome?

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Godzilla, Ambassador of Tokyo!

Godzilla has officially graduated from the most feared king of monsters, harbinger of doom and reminder of the horror of nuclear war to head of Tokyo tourism. It’s a strange turn of events that I never would have predicted.

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Via Robot6

Godzilla, who has attacked and destroyed Tokyo no fewer than 28 times, was honored Thursday by the city, adding tourism ambassador and honorary resident of Shinjuku ward to his responsibilities as King of the Monsters.

The tributes arrived as part of a ceremony to officially unveil the life-size head of the kaiju that erupts from the roof of the eight-story Toho Cinemas in Shinjuku. When we say “life-size,” we mean the 80-ton head rises 39 feet from the roof and towers 171 feet above the street, the height of Godzilla in his 1954 film debut.

According to The Associated Press, an actor in a rubber suit attended Thursday’s ceremony. However, Toho studio executive Minami Ichikawa had to step in to accept the residency certificate from Shinjuku Mayor Kenichi Yoshizumi because the suit’s claws weren’t made for actually grasping anything.

It’s worth pointing out that Shinjuku, known for its bars and noodle restaurants, has been flattened three times by Godzilla. But the ward forgives and forgets, with Yoshizumi referring to a long-held belief that any place destroyed by the monster on film prospers in real life.

“Godzilla is a character that is the pride of Japan,” he said.

“I’ll Give You the Greatest Worst Nightmare!”

The King of Monsters Godzilla will return in 2016 after a twelve year hiatus in Japan. The success of the 2014 American Godzilla film directed by Gareth  Edwards prompted Toho to move ahead with a revival of the successful franchise that began back in 1954.
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Details are few but it has been established that Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion) and Shinji Higuchi (Attack on Titan) will co-direct. The creative team has great love for Godzilla’s rich history and promises to bring the iconic monster back to a rightful place of honor… within the limits of the production.

Writer and co-director Anno, who is still reeling from Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo and deep in work for the fourth installment has an enthusiastic yet measured attitude- “Godzilla exists in a world of science fiction, not only of dreams and hopes, but he’s a caricature of reality, a satire, a mirror image. Recently, Japan has also been careless in the way it has attempted to depict him. In all honesty, Japanese production budgets and schedules are so tight, compared to the world’s capitol [Hollywood], not to mention the constraints imposed on filmmakers in terms of content. Frankly, I’m not sure how far outside the lines we can go.

“However, movies have pride, even trifling little films; therefore, just as in the case of the new EVAs, I’m going in full force. When I think about what I’ve accomplished, the twists and turns befitting a screenplay, everything has led to this point. I write this with the hope that the reader might understand at least to some degree that no matter what a creator says, it’s just an excuse, but I’m under pressure to make a visual effects fantasy film representative of modern Japan, with the full awareness of our current situation, which will be subjected to intentions both good and bad.”

Co-director Higuchi seems more optimistic “It’s a veritable championship over one’s own mind. What now, then? Playtime is over. Nevertheless, with my best friend standing beside me, we will triumph over the pressure that would otherwise make me run far away. I was born in this country which gave life to this great divinity [Godzilla], which destined me to work in visual effects, up until this very moment. I give unending thanks to Fate for this opportunity; so next year, I’ll give you the greatest worst nightmare.”

(news and quotes via The Good, the Bad and Godzilla)

For those looking to get a quick fix of Godzilla, I recommend Godzilla in Hell from IDW drawn in stunning style by James Stokoe (due out this July).

Click for more info!

Click for more info!

Additionally, Kaijumax, a humorous comic set in a maximum security prison for giant monsters from Oni Press by Zander Cannon, is a lot of fun. Click on the image below for more info or pick up the first issue this week.
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