Hopkins worries that effects eclipse acting

Anthony Hopkins in The Wolf Man.
Anthony Hopkins in The Wolf Man.

Anthony Hopkins, who won an Oscar for his memorably menacing performance as the monstrous Hannibal Lecters, tells Hollywood Reporter that he worries about Hollywood’s current obsession with computer-graphics and green-screen work. Hopkins is not opposed to the techniques, just concerned that they sometimes create a disconnect between performer and audience:

“I’ve done a couple of greenscreens, and if they work that’s great,” he said. “But now the audience is so smart, and I think you watch some movies, and you can tell it’s greenscreen, and somehow that looks detached” from the acting.

Hopkins recently appeared in THE WOLFMAN, which made extensive use of special effects, so he knows what he’s talking about.
The article goes on to lament (in reporter Bob Tourtellotte’s word, not Hopkins) that, while Hollywood is emphasizing action, animation, comic books and 3-D, Hopkins 2007 Merchant/Ivory production CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION is only now receiving limited theatrical exposure in major U.S. cities, and Hopkins is finding himself employed less frequently these days
Of course, any cinefantasitque fan who has sat through the tedium of many Merchant/Ivory prestige productions will probably conclude that Hollywood is making the right decision. Still, it’s weird to think that Hopkins, whose portrayal of Lecter stand as one of the highlights of the horror genre, is becoming detached from his audience because of the intervention of digital effects.

Godzilla as political metaphor

Josh Marshall of the political blog Talking Points Memo compares the current throw-down between RNC Chairman Michael Steele and former Bush’s Brain Karl Rove to a kaiju slug-fest:

Not since Godzilla did battle with Mothra has there been a fight with quite the potential for spectacle as that between Karl Rove and Michael Steele. We haven’t seen much of it yet. I don’t think I even realized it was happening. But behind the scenes, Michael Steele’s allies say that Rove and his minions are the ones fanning the anti-Steele flames.

Submitted without comment or interpretation, for your entertainment value.

Cybersurfing: DreadCentral interviews After.Life director

Christina Ricci and Liam Neeson
Christina Ricci and Liam Neeson

DreadCentral.com has posted an interview with Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, the female director of AFTER.LIFE, the independent horror film starring Christina Ricci and Liam Neeson, which will receive a limited platform theatrical release from Anchor Bay this Friday. As far as in-depth information, the interview’s blood runs a bit thin, but Wojtowicz-Vosloo does have a few interesting remarks about what she was trying to achieve with her film, which follows a woman (Ricci) who wakes up on an autopsy slab, where she is confronted by a mortician (Neeson) who insists that she is dead:

“I thought a lot about what happens to the body after death, what happens to your soul, or even what stages your consciousness goes through,” explained Wojtowicz-Vosloo. “I wanted to go beyond this idea of death and look at the human experience as a whole. If someone is physically alive but moves along like an empty vessel, is that person truly alive?”

Wojtowicz-Vosloo cites Kubrick’s THE SHINING, Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY, and Cronenberg’s DEAD RINGERS as major influences, and she notes that AFTER.LIFE does not fit comfortably into the current horror landscape, which is littered with remakes, sequels, and torture porn:

“I’m not quite sure that audiences are ready for After.Life since there aren’t a lot of distinctive horror films that make it into theaters these days,” explained Wojtowicz-Vosloo. “Horror fans are smart so I think they will like After.Life if they give it a chance, but I am aware of what we’re up against.”


Splice trailer

Here is the first theatrical trailer for SPLICE, the low-budget science fiction film that got picked up for release by Warner Brothers after generating interest at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polly play geneticists who create a new life form that winds up growing at an alarming (perhaps unstoppable rate). The film is scheduled to make its theatrical bow on June 4, in the middle of the summer blockbuster season. Can it hold its own against the likes of PRINCE OF PERSIA and TOY STORY 3?


Cybersurfing: Clash of the Titans premiere and box office

Sam Worthington as Perseus
Sam Worthington as Perseus

Variety has a couple of brief items regarding the launch of CLASH OF THE TITANS, the weekend’s big fantasy extravaganza, based on the 1981 production from Ray Harryhausen and Charles Schneer. The new film had its premiere at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, where not only the cast and crew of the remake showed up but also Harry Hamlin (star of the original).
Opening with early screenings on Thursday, the new CLASH earned $4.2-million in approximately 3,000 theatres nationwide – not bad but not enough to surpass last weekend’s box office winner HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, whih nabbed $5.2-million.
UPDATE: CLASH OF THE TITANS earned $28-million on Friday, suggesting that it should earn $67-million during its opening weekend (Friday to Sunday). This would be a record for the Easter weekend – not traditionally a peak movie-going time.

Cybersurfing: Is "White Ribbon" a secret sci-fi horror film?

White RibbonIn a piece titled “White Ribbon looks like a period piece but draws from classic sci-fi,” critic Brandon Fibbs suggests that director Michael Haneke foreign-language Oscar-nominee “throbs with a spectral connction to a 1960 science fiction film that, were I to name it, would surely ruin this film’s dark, ambiguous surprise.” Haneke is perhaps best known in the United States for FUNNY GAMES, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that his art house effort might have a little something violent and scary beneath its black-and-white period decor. Fibbs certainly makes the film sound intriguing:

Something’s not right in the village. A wire stretched across a road trips a horse, throwing its rider, the town doctor, to the ground with bone-crushing force.
A farmer’s wife is killed in a mysterious mill accident. A barn catches fire in the middle of the night and burns to the ground. A young child is tortured and maimed. What begins as a series of random accidents suddenly takes on the force of malevolent evil. Someone is behind the attacks and as the disturbing events escalate, the villagers cannot help but begin suspecting their neighbors.
We suspect, too, though we are never given any clues.
This is not about evidence and proof; it is about the metastasizing, putrid feeling in the pit of your stomach that senses primal evil where there should be only purity and innocence.

From the description, I think I know the “1960 science fiction film to which to which Fibbs refers, but I won’t reveal the title either. I guess I will have to add WHITE RIBBON to my Netflix que to see whether my guess is correct.

Cybersurfing: Why Do Women Watch Horror Movies?

Why do women enjoy horror movies? It’s an interesting question, and we found an answer in an unexpected place: a brief post at Iranian.com offers an explanation from a psychologist:

“Fear can facilitate sexual responsiveness in women, whereas it inhibits it in men,” says Dr Glenn Wilson, a psychologist at King’s College London. Isn’t that a little close to the myth that women have rape fantasies? “No,” he says. “It has to be in a safe, controlled environment, so watching a horror film is a good example. I’m not saying this is the only reason for watching. Horror films, for men and women, are about learning to cope with emotions that would threaten to overwhelm us if they happened in reality.”

Cybersurfing: Theofantastique's John W. Morehead profiled

John D. Morehead
John W. Morehead

John W. Morehead, who contributes to Cinefantastique when he can spare time from his own fine blog, Theofantastique (no, the similarity of names is not a coincidence) is interviewed on the Fangoria website, regarding his views on the nexus of horror and spirituality. Do the two really mesh? Morehead thinks so:

First, some have noted the similarities between religious experiences of fear and awe and what Rudolf Otto has called the numinous and reactions to horror. In addition, scholars like Timothy Beal in RELIGION AND ITS MONSTERS have noted that various religious traditions have their creatures, including the Judeo-Christian tradition with Leviathan, Behemoth, Satan and, perhaps most uncomfortably, even Yahweh himself, who can be interpreted as acting in monstrous fashion in various biblical passages of judgment. Further, Douglas Cowan in SACRED TERROR has noted the connection between religion and horror as it expresses cultural fears.
So with these thoughts in mind, it is quite natural to find examples of the meshing of the two, as human beings express their religious hopes and fears through horror. I believe it is easy to find such examples, most especially in the Gothic horror tradition, which includes more of a Christian orientation, but also a very different kind of spiritual question in late modern or postmodern horror, which often turns the Gothic on its head by expressing incredulity regarding more traditional Christian perspectives reflected in the genre. This is not surprising in a post-Christendom context. Even so, spirituality and horror mesh for many people quite well. 

The whole interview is worth a read.

Cybersurfing: Jackson Rathbone goes from Twilight to Dread

MTV.com’s Movies Blog has a brief interview with actor Jackson Rathbone, who compares his blockbuster TWILIGHT movies with his recent horror film DREAD, one of the After Dark Horrorfest’s “8 Films to Die For” recently released on DVD:

Despite the fact that “Twilight” isn’t really a scary movie, Rathbone said there are similarities between “Twilight” and “Dread.” “One of the things I like is when different worlds collide. With the ‘Twilight’ films, you have the horror element of the vampire, but it becomes more of a romantic action film with the vampire falling in love with the girl. With ‘Dread’ it’s kind of the same thing. Clive Barker’s world is usually more of a mythical gothic world, but ‘Dread’ is more of a personalized psychological thriller instead of a horror. It has the horror elements, but it’s much more of a person-to-person drama.”

USA Today travels in the Hot Tub Time Machine

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)USA Today has posted an interview with the stars of the sci-fi comedy HOT TUB TIME MACHINE. While mostly a portrait of how John Cusack, Rob Corddry, and Craig Robinson riff off one another in a good-natured way, there is the occasional snippet of discussion about, you know, the actual movie they are promoting:

Luckily, Cusack — who also produced Hot Tub —has a sense of humor about himself. The film’s mockery of the 1980s is partly a mockery of him, since he helped define the era for teenagers with his earliest films, including Sixteen Candles, The Sure Thing, Better off Dead, One Crazy Summer and Say Anything. “I thought that would be one of the things that is fun about it,” he says. “It’s a mix of snarky, and post-modern, and really, really dumb comedy. Profoundly stupid.”
You’re either in or out with the title,” Cusack says. “I thought it would be the greatest, recreational water-based time-travel movie in history.”
“Better than Sauna Wormhole?” Corddry asks, making one up off the top of his head.
“Better than Whirlpool Wayback?” Robinson adds.
“There are other time-travel movies,” Cusack says. “None of them are as good — or as water-based.”