The Death of Hercules

Wow, I did not realize that Reg Park had died until I stumbled upon this obituary written by Tim Lucas over at VideoWatchblog. Park played Hercules in a couple of fantasy-oriented sword-and-sandal epics back in the early ’60s, HERCULS CONQUERS ATLANTIS and HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD. The later retains a certain cult appeal because was directed by genre expert Mario Bava, and it co-stars Christopher Lee (Dracula for a generation of movie-goers, before playing Count Dooku in ATTACK OF THE CLONES and Saruman in LORD OF THE RINGS.
Lucas’s obit is a heart-felt piece that makes you appreciate Park’s contribution to the role, even if you are not a big fan of Italian muscleman epics. If you want a quick introduction to the genre, check out the video below, which I shot at an exhibition of photographs and posters called “Beefcake Babylon: the Iconography of Sword & Sandal Epics.” Park shows up in some of the photos, along with his predecessor in the role of Hercules, Steve Reeves.

Horror Safety Ads

In the tradition of RED ASPHALT and other horrifically gory “Warning Films,” comes a set of worker safety spots from Canada. They’re bloody and very funny – sort of what you might expect if Dario Argento had been hired to film them. You can check them out below, but be warned, some people do not find them funny, and some are more disturbing than others. We’ve arranged them in more or less descending order of humor-to-horror ratio.

A tip of the hat to The American Scene for drawing our attention to these bizarre public service announcements.

Videos

Timber Falls: Q&A with director Tony Giglio

TIMBER FALLS will be opening on December 7. I saw the film at Screamfest in Hollywood last October and was pleasantly surprised: the plot (religious loonies kidnap a couple out camping and try to force them to conceive a surrogate child) did not sound particularly auspicious, but the characters suspense were handled pretty well, and the horror hit most of the right notes – grim enough to be effective without getting lost in a welter of blood.

Timber Falls clip

TIMBER FALLS is a pretty good backwoods horror flick that screened at this year’s Screamfest in Hollywood (I mentioned the film in this post). Unlike many low-budget films sans stars, this one is actually going to get a theatrical release, on December 7. Check out a clip below.

Clips, Movies, News, Videos

Midnight Meat Train arrives on May 16

MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN is a filmic adaptation based on the Clive Barker story of the same name (which appears in the first volume of his “Books of Blood” series). Director Ryuhei Kitamaura (who practically exploded with screen with far-out monster action in GODZILLA: FINAL WARS) is the director, so I can only imagine that the film will be one wild ride.

Hopefully, the screenwriters have figured out a good way to develop the short story into a feature. Barker’s tale really just builds up to an awful revelation (the protagonist is forcibly recruited by monstrous cannibals living in the subway) and leaves the reader reeling from the blow. It’s pretty effective, but a film will need a second and a third act that can dramatically resolve the situation without feeling like an anti-climax. Here’s hoping…

Dark Knight trailer

RooTV.Com has the teaser trailer for THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. It contains no footage from the film, but there are a few lines of dialogue that do a good job of setting up your anticipation: “Starting tonight, people will die,” breathes the Joker, adding with a chuckle, “I’m a man of my word.”

Friday the 13th reunion at Screamfest – with video


After launching with the West Coast premiere of George A. Romero’s DIARY OF THE DEAD on Friday, Screamfest continued on Saturday with a series of short subjects, followed by a violent German murder-mystery titled DEAD IN 3 DAYS. The big event of the day did not arrive until late in the evening: two back-to-back 25th anniversary screenings of 1982’s FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III – in 3D! Thanks to the film’s 3D supervisor, Martin Jay Sadhoff, lucky patrons got to see the film in its original Sirius-Scope process, complete with the souvenir glasses with artwork designed to suggest Jason’s trademark hockey mask (which he wears for the first time in this film). Personally, I would have preferred a complete hockey mask with the polarized 3D lenses embedded in the eye sockets, but I guess you take what you can get.
I was never a big fan of Jason or FRIDAY THE 13TH. I think he ranks as the slasher movie equivalent of the Mummy; somehow he’s earned a reputation as a classic horror character, but he’s really just a big, ugly, slow-moving guy. In fact, PART III was the first film in the series that I bothered to see in a theatre, just because I was a 3D fan. I was not particulary impressed with the movie, but I did have to admit that it was sometimes effective (those sheets on the clothesline, ruffling in the wind, were really spooky thanks to the 3D enhancement, which had you expecting Jason’s appearance at any second).
Consequently, I had my doubts about the value of sitting through the movie again, but the lure of 3D won me over, and the the screening turned out to be a cult-audience experience not to be missed. The battered print (from the 1982 release) jumped and crackled like a trailer for GRINDHOUSE, and time has not been kind to the movie in other ways as well – the execrable dialogue and wooden performances are even more painfully obvious than they were back in the day. But the audience took it all in stride: they laughed at the contrived 3D tricks (which include antennas, baseball bats, and rattlesnakes aimed at your eyeballs); they moaned in mock sympathy whenever nerdy Shelly had another speech about how pathetic he was; and of course they applauded with wild enthusiasm for each of Jason’s kills. It wasn’t quite THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, but it was close.
jason3.jpg
After the first screening, there was a question-and-answer session with select members from the cast and crew: Larry Zerner, who played Shelly; Tracie Savage, who played Debbie, the obligatory girl who has sex and dies; Paul Kratka, who played Rick, the male lead whose eye pops out in 3D; David Katims, who played the pot-smoking Chuck; Harry Manfredini, who composed the score; Martin Jay Sadhoff.
Unfortunately, time was short (the show was running late, and a crowd outside was waiting to see the second screening of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III), so each guest had time to answer only one question. You can view the video or read excerpts from a transcript.
MARTIN SADHOFF ON THE HOCKEY MASK:

The real story about how the hockey mask came about… I’m from Buffalo, New York, and [producer] Frank Mancuso Jr. is my neighbor, and we’re hockey fanatics. The day of the makeup test, we didn’t really know what Jason should really look like, but we had to come up with some kind of makeup test in 3D. I had a hockey mask there, and I said, ‘Why don’t we put it on and see what it looks like?’I only wish I had registered the hockey mask [as a trademark] because every Halloween, that’s all I see!

LARRY ZERNER ON BEING CAST AS SHELLY:

I was standing on a street corner handing out tickets to THE ROAD WARRIOR, and these people came up to me and said, ‘Are you an actor?’ I was a struggling actor like everyone else in this town, so I said, ‘Yeah,’ and they said, ‘We wrote this movie, and we think you’d be perfect for it.’ I auditioned and got the role. That was the beginning and end of my acting career. Now I’m an entertainment attorney.

TRACIE SAVAGE ON HER CASTING AND HER DEATH SCENE:

I haven’t seen this movie in 25 years. I can’t imagine why I gave up my acting career! [heavy irony] I had so much potential! I come from a showbiz family and had done my first commercial at 2. My mom was my agent and said they were casting this movie. I said, “No, I’m done; I’m in college. Well, I went and I got it, and it was so much fun. It was really the last thing I did. I went to college, got a degree in broadcast journalism, and have been a journalist ever since.
[My death scene] was amazing. First they had to make a replica of my upper torso – that was bizarre! Because it was 3D it took hours to film that one little three-second shot – hours to set up the makeup and the lighting, because they didn’t want the seam to show where the fake torso joined my neck.

PAUL KRATKA ON RICK’S FLIGHT THROUGH A WINDOW:

The night they were shooting the scene, I was very glad I was not a stunt man. My character had to be projected through the window, so they had this air ramp that would launch a person. They pulled the window out of the frame so it was open, but the guy kept hitting high, hitting low. They could not have paid me [to do that!] Whatever they paid that guy wasn’t enough!

DAVID KATIMS ON WHAT HE WAS REALLY SMOKING:

This is pre-crack, so… I’m actually not a cigarette smoker. The first night, it was cigarettes I was really smoking. I couldn’t handle it, so I sent them over to a health food store and had them get barley. I smoked barley; that’s also what I ate!

RICHARD BROOKER ON THE HELP HE RECEIVED FROM THE DIRECTOR:

Steve Miner told me absolutely nothing. He said, ‘Never come up to me and ask your motivation for the scene. You have no motivation. You are just a senseless killer. You are like Jaws. You have no feelings, no nothing. You just go out and kill people.’ Seriously, that’s what he told me. Studying acting most of my life, I didn’t necessarily buy that. I tried to put a meaning to the character. I honestly believe that you don’t have to talk to be an actor; you can walk and you can move. I think that’s what I brought to the role, and I think that’s what made Jason Jason. After all the episodes since then, people still come up to me and say, ‘FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III was the scariest ever!’ We’re sitting her 25 years later, so we must have done something right.

HARRY MANFREDINI ON THE DISCO VERSION OF THE FRIDAY THE 13TH THEME:

At the time Steve [Miner] called me, I was working on a musical that closed after two weeks and a day; otherwise I probably wouldn’t be here. This is actually the first time I’ve seen this movie. I saw the parts I scored, but I only had a couple of days so we used music from the old film. So I finally got to see the whole film tonight, and I thought the 3D was spectacular! I had a ball. So who came up with the disco idea? Back then that was really hot. A guy named Michael Zager, a good friend of mine who was really into this, said, ‘We should do this.’ So I went over to Michael Zager’s house and played him various pieces of the FRIDAY THE 13TH score. I told him, ‘You need to use these three chords and this tune.’ I said, ‘When you come to the right part, just call me. I’ll come in and go… [Manfredini whispers the famous Jason echo motif].

[NOTE: Before the panel departed, there was mention that there are extremely tentative plans for a revamped 3D release of the film.]
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Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood

Just got a press release regarding Universal’s big haunt for October 2007. By now, if you’re interested in this sort of thing, you probably already know that Leatherface, Jason, and Freddy are joining the Universal Classic Monsters for 2007, but there are some more details you will find interesting. (Of course, unanswered remains the question of why Universal felt the need to include slasher movie icons from the ’80s when they already have their own line-up of Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.)
Read the press release below – and see a video of last year’s Horror Nights UPDATE: The 2006 video has been replaced with one from 2007, which represents the presentation as described in the press release.

Universal City, California – Three of the big screen’s most infamous horror icons, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Leatherface, join forces for the first time to invade Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Halloween Horror Nights” as The Entertainment Capital of L.A. brings to life New Line Cinema’s legendary horror film franchises, “Friday the 13th,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” in the Southland’s most intense interactive Halloween experience. This year’s “Halloween Horror Nights” will feature four new mazes and a new edition of the “Terror Tram,” allowing guests to venture on foot through Universal’s legendary back lot.”Halloween Horror Nights” will be held on Friday and Saturday nights, beginning on October 5 and extending to Sunday, October 28, culminating on Halloween, October 31. The event dates are: October 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-28 and 31. The event will begin nightly at 7:00 p.m.; closing hours vary by night throughout the event.Freddy, Jason and Leatherface will each be featured within his own labyrinth of carnage, elevating the “Halloween Horror Nights” experience to appalling levels of madness and mayhem, levels that could only be realized by fiends as grisly as Jason, Leatherface and Freddy.Each of the mazes will capture the gruesome tone of the notorious films to catapult horror fans to an excruciating level of intimacy often kept at a safe distance by virtue of the movie screen.
The popular “Terror Tram” experience– unique to Universal Studios Hollywood-allows guests to disembark from Studio Tour trams and walk among the historic sets of the Universal backlot, birthplace of the horror genre.  The backlot experience-incorporating such Hollywood landmarks as Psycho House, Bates Motel and the “War of the Worlds” airplane crash disaster scene-will play a pivotal role in the reemergence of Freddy, Jason and Leatherface where guests-victims will weave through the debauchery and fall prey to their tortured, sadistic minds. Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Halloween Horror Nights” will also feature a series of specially-created, spine-tingling entertainment adding an alarming element to the overall Halloween experience.  Highlights include the new “House of Horrors” maze where Universal’s most notorious monsters will descend upon guests as they navigate the creepy confines of vampire lairs, cannibal caves and psycho film slashers.
Universal Studios Hollywood’s favorite attractions will remain open for the nighttime Halloween Horror Nights experience, but many will feature a menacing twist.  The standing sets and themed streets of the theme park will be transformed into a bloodbath, as if scenes from horror films that were left on cutting room floor exploded to life.  A transformed “WaterWorld,” “Jurassic Park-In the Dark,” the “Revenge of the Mummy” psychological thrill ride roller coaster and “Terminator 2:3D” will all seem like tranquil respites from Jason, Freddy and Leatherface’s bedlam.
“Chucky’s Insult Emporium” will provide a mix of menace and humor to the event, and the ingenious sleight-of-sight performances by two internationally renowned stunt magicians, Kevin James and Brian Bushwood, will feature an original mix of unusual feats from risky fire-eating stunts to tactfully hammering nails into eyeballs and sawing people in half before literally re-attaching them before guests’ very eyes.
For more information on “Halloween Horror Nights” and to purchase advance tickets, including the popular combo-day-and-“Halloween Horror Nights” ticket, please access www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com, call 818-622-3801 or visit the Universal Studios Hollywood ticket booths.  Various promotional offers include tickets for as low as $29 with any Coke can or special coupon from Del Taco restaurants.  “Halloween Horror Nights” tickets will also be sold in advance at Vons Grocery Stores where consumers can save up to $22 off a ticket with the purchase of any Coca-Cola product.
The terror of Jason, Freddy and Leatherface will also extend to Universal Orlando, where the theme park will be celebrating its 17th annual event, thus making this year’s “Halloween Horror Nights” the largest bi-coastal event in the U.S.

The Mist trailer

The trailer for THE MIST – Frank Darabont’s screen adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, about a group of people trapped in a store surrounded by a mist filled with monsters – is playing before HALLOWEEN. If you don’t want to sit through the whole film just for a chance to see the trailer (and who can blame you, considering the film?), here it is: