Warner Brothers Halloween Blu-ray Contest!

DVD ContestUPDATE: Contest Closed! Thanks to everyone who entered; sorry we didn’t have discs for all of you.
Halloween approaches! And what better way to enjoy the October season that with horror movies! Fortunately for you, Warner Brothers is giving away a set of their latest Blu-ray horror titles, just in time to fill your treat bag for Halloween night! The four discs are CHERNOBYL DIARIES (released today), DARK SHADOWS (released October 2), HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS (scheduled for October 30).
One lucky winner will receive all four discs. For your chance to win, send an email to contest@cinefantastiqueonline.com with “WBHalloween” in the subject line, and answer this question:

What romantically inclined supernatural femme fatal from the original DARK SHADOWS soap opera appeared in the recent DARK SHADOWS feature film and in NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS but not in HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS?

Please include your name and address so that we can send the discs to you. We are not able to ship to PO Box addresses, and the winner must be within the United States.

Laserblast: July 10 Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction Home Video

Lockout wide image guy pearce
LOCKOUT - now availabe on VOD, with DVD and Blu-ray coming next week.
Tuesday, July 10 offers little in the way of new horror, fantasy, and science fiction on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD; however, if you are looking to fill some empty slots in your collection, you will find a pod bay full of older titles returning in new editions.

LOCKOUT, the action-packed science fiction thriller starring Guy Pearce, is the one newbie arriving this week, making its Video on Demand debut a week ahead of its arrival on DVD and Blu-ray next Tuesday. The movie is not bad, but viewers will need a high tolerance for familiar formula film-making (ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK comes to mind, without much mental grasping). Two versions are available, the theatrical and unrated; both are currently available only for sale.
If vampires get your blood pumping, you’re in luck, thanks to the arrival of three titles of various vintage: BLADE II, TWINS OF EVIL, and DARK SHADOWS: THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL SERIES (DELUXE EDITION). The first two are new Blu-ray releases; the latter is a mammoth box set, enclosed appropriately enough  in a collector’s edition coffin.
BLADE II (2002) is the second in the series starring Wesley Snipes as the epynomous vampire-hunter striking fear into the hearts of the undead. The film is generally regarded as the best of the bunch, thanks to the presence of Guilllermo Del Toro in the director’s chair. The Blu-ray disc includes numerous bonus features that will be familiar to anyone who has perused the old DVD: audio commentary, deleted scenes, trailers, galleries, and featurettes. (The one I remember best “Epilogue: Dirty Version,” which Del Toro informally names “Come Removal” – because, apparently, the scene, set in a peep show, had to be trimmed because someone though semen stains were visible somewhere in the dark grungy setting.)
TWINS OF EVIL (1971) is the third in the Karnstein trilogy – three bloody, sexy shockers produced by Hammer Films in the early 1970s, inspired by J. Sheridan LeFanu’s classic novella, Carmilla. TWINS OF EVIL is no match for the original THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970), but it far exceeds the lackluster LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (also 1971). The lesbian element of its predecessors is severely diminished, the the predatory vampire countess Mircalla Karnstein reduced to a mere cameo in order to get the blood boiling early on. After that, the film focuses on the conflict between hedonistic vampires and holier-than-thou vampire hunters, with the battle lines drawn in such a way that it is hard to root for either side. The innovation here lies in the titular characters, played by identical twin playmates, Mary and Madeleine Collinson (only one of whom is actually evil). For such an old title, the Blu-ray DVD Combo pack offers some impressive bonus features : a deleted scene; isolated music and effects track; motion still gallery; theatrical trailer and TV spots; a featurette titled THE PROPS THAT HAMMER BUILD and a full-length documentary feature detailing the behind-the-scenes production details, THE FLESH AND THE FURY: X-POSING TWINS OF EVIL.
The final nail in the vampire’s coffin this week is the DARK SHADOWS Deluxe Edition, which includes all 1,225 episodes of the show on 131 DVDs. This old Gothic soap opera is very much an artifact of its time (late ’60s, early ’70s), but the crude production values of the shot-live approach (including blown lines, visible boom microphones, and rubber bats bouncing around on wires) become part of the charm. For all its many faults, there is something raw about the series – it’s like watching a first draft being written before your eyes, and it’s easy to imagine someone coming along later and refining this raw material into cinematic gold (alas, if only that had actually happened!). Bonus features include bloopers, behind-the-scenes material, and over 120 cast and crew interviews. The commemorative coffin contains a booklet with episode summaries and photographs, plus nickle hinges, white ribbon to hold the lid open, and matte and foil coating.
The remainder of the weekly offerings consist mostly of oldies resurrected on Blu-ray.

  • ALTERED STATES (1980) is director Ken Russell’s mind-blowing special effects freak-out adaptation of the novel by Paddy Chayevsky. It’s overblown and over-the-top in the usual Russell fashion, but that’s all part of the fun, and Chayevsky (who removed his name from the screenplay credit) grounds the bombast in serious drama.
  • OUTLAND is Peter Hyams’ attempt to create a gritty vision of outer space as the new version of the old frontier: think “HIGH NOON in Space.” Thanks to performances by Sean Connery and Peter Boyle, the result is entertaining viewing.
  • COMA is writer-director Michael Crichton’s adaptation of Robin Cook’s medical thriller about black market body parts; there is some queasy suspense, but the film falls short of Crichton’s best work.
  • BRAINSTORM represents one of special effects guru Douglas Trumbull’s few directorial efforts; although tarnished by the death of star Natalie Wood, the film is not a complete bust, offering some splendid visual riches in its depiction of a device that allows the recording and experiencing of other people’s mental stats.

Also on the menu this week: FREQUENCY, SPAWN, and on DVD, WAREHOUSE 13: SEASON THREE.
You can find all of these titles in the Cinefantastique Online Store.

Dark Shadows: The Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast – 3:19

The Fangs are Almost as Big as the Lapels: An undead Johnny Depp braves the ravages of the 70's in DARK SHADOWS.
The Fangs are Almost as Big as the Lapels: An undead Johnny Depp braves the ravages of the 70's in DARK SHADOWS.

Two hundred years is a long time to revive a vampire, but then again, forty years is long time to revive the first horror soap opera (not counting an earlier, feature adaptation and a TV revival in the ’90s). In Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is cursed into vampirehood by spurned lover Angelique (Eva Green) in the 18th century and is buried alive (undead?) to await his unearthing in the 1970’s. What he finds is the family fishing empire in ruins, the occupants of stately Collinswood manor — including Michelle Pfeiffer as matriarch, Helena Bonham Carter as a drunk doctor, Jackie Earle Haley as a drunker handyman, and Bella Heathcote as a nanny who bears a striking resemblance to Barnabas’ lost love Josette — devolved into feckless dissolution, and Carpenters music everywhere.
Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons have seen the film, and sit down to discuss whether Burton’s more comedic take on DARK SHADOWS’ melodramatics are worth the trip back to the Me Decade. Also in this show: What’s coming to theaters.

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1st Official 'Dark Shadows' Picture

dark-shadows_DEPP_CUEntertainment Weekly is featuring the first official promotion still from Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s take on the 1960’s Dan Curtis Gothic Soap Opera DARK SHADOWS.
One unauthorized pic of Depp in a dead white make-up and sporting dark glasses and a wide-brimmed fedora had given the impression that the filmmakers might have been going for a Willy Wonka/Michael Jackson look, but this staged group shot offers a more traditional look at the character, though he’s somewhat in the background.
The photo has a look very similar to publicity photos of the ABC original series, and this is completely intentional, according to director Tim Burton.

“I remember seeing a group photograph of the cast of the original series… For me it captured the weird Dark Shadows vibe in a single image.
I had a brief window of opportunity to have our cast present at the same time, the day before principle photography began. We decided to stage a similar picture instead of rehearsing, to see if we captured the Dark Shadows feeling.”

I’d say they succeeded in this photograph, anyway.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

In addition to Depp as Barnabas Collins, the photograph features (L-R)
Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter)
Controrversial Glimpse
Controrversial Glimpse

Carolyn Stoddard (Chloë Moretz, LET ME IN)
Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green)
David Collins (Gulliver McGrath)
Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote)
Mrs. Johnson (Ray Shirley)
Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley)
Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller)
Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer)
See the link above for more information on the characters and how they may be similar and different than their original incarnations., provided by screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith.  WARNING:  this info contains a certain amount of mild SPOILERS.
Due out May 11th, 2012 from Warner Brothers Pictures.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN & Building the Better Vampire: CFQ’s Black Hole Ultra-Lounge 2:32.2

Special guest Judith Furnari joins Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French and Dan Persons in an exploration of the cinematic vampire past, present, and future (during which all take a bold, controversial stand against moody, glittery teen vampires). Also, Larry delivers a pithy but definitive verdict on CONAN THE BARBARIAN and his mighty thews.


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CFQ Round Table Podcast 2:20.3: Taking Stock of X-Men on Screen

X-Men
Prophetic messaging? The first few X-MEN films were entertaining; then came WOLVERINE...

In this week’s Cinefantastique Round Table Podcast – the Podcast with a Sense of Wonder – Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski appraise the X-MEN film franchise: what have the mutants contributed to the world of comics-to-movies adaptations? Also up for discussion: remembering late actor Vincent Price – the Merchant of Menace – on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Plus a look at the week’s most interesting news: Is it good or bad that the live-action, Americanized remake of Katsuhiro Otomo’s AKIRA is going nowhere fast? Does Christopher Nolan’s use of IMAX instead of 3D for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES indicate a better way to immerse audiences in on-screen world’s of fantasy? And do we really want or need a DARK SHADOWS remake with reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins recast as a thoughtless playboy?

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'Dark Shadows' Takes Flight

Here’s the premise of the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version of DARK SHADOWS,  according to Warner Brother’s press release.  JohnnyDepp_SHOLLOW

“In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet–or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine.
The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Brouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive.
Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.
Also residing in the manor is Elizabeth’s ne’er-do-well brother, Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller); her rebellious teenage daughter Carolyn Stoddard (Chloe Moretz); and Roger’s precocious 10-year-old son, David Collins (Gulliver McGrath). The mystery extends beyond the family, to caretaker Willie Loomis, played by Jackie Earle Haley, and David’s new nanny, Victoria Winters, played by Bella Heathcote.”

Looks like the film is play around with the time frame. On the Dan Curtis-produced TV series, Barnabas becomes a vampire around 1795-97 (both years mentioned, possibly a continuity error) and is released in then contemporary time (circa 1967).  I’d have preferred the “modern-day” scenes in the new film to be  set present-day, but I suppose an early-`70’s flavor could add to the charm of the piece.
Also, in the original soap opera Barnabas Collins might have been a somewhat feckless lover, but hardly a playboy. He was a pretty serious-minded, brooding and passionate man. Could they be going for a bit of that “Captain Jack Sparrow 18th Century rake” vibe?

Armie Hammer To Play Lone Ranger?


Armie Hammer Jr.
Armie Hammer Jr.

According to
Variety,  Armie Hammer Jr,  (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) is being considered to don the mask of The Lone Ranger in Walt Disney Pictures’ feature film adaptation of the radio, comics and television western icon.

Armie Hammer Jr.
Armie Hammer Jr.

According to
 Johnny Depp (PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN) has been long-signed to play the masked man’s Native American friend and crime-fighting partner in the Jerry Bruckhiemer Production. PIRATES helmer Gore Verbinski (RANGO) is set to direct, from a screenplay by Justin Haythe (REVOLUTIONARY ROAD).
Johnny Depp will first have to complete his role in DARK SHADOWS, due to roll very soon with director Tim Burton. Yet Disney still hopes to ready THE LONE RANGER for release in 2012.
 This isn’t the first time Armie Hammer’s been up for a superhero role, he was set to play The Batman in Warner Brothers’ aborted JUSTICE LEAGUE movie.

Young Barnabas Cast for 'Dark Shadows'

Thomas McDonnelAccording to The Hollywood Reporter,  Thomas McDonell (THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM) has been cast as a younger version of Barnabas Collins in the Tim Buton/Johnny Depp DARK SHADOWS.
Depp is playing the mature Barnabas, cursed as a vampire by the witch Angelique (Eva Green, CASINO ROYALE), in the feature film based of the 1960’s Dan Curtis gothic soap opera.
Michelle Pfeiffer has been cast as matriach Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Bella Heathcote as governess Victoria Winters, and WATHCMEN’S Jackie Earle Haley as the coniving caretaker Willie Loomis.
With a screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), Warner Brothers intend for filming to get underway in April.
McDonnell certainly looks a good deal like a younger Johnny Depp, though it’s unknown how extensive the part might be. If I recall correctly, young Barnabas and servant girl Angelique Bouchard had a fling in Martinique, and she became obessed with the wealthyAmerican.

Gnomeo, Vanishing & We Are What We Are: CFQ Round Table 2:7

GNOMEO AND JULIET

This week offers a wide-ranging edition of the Cinefantastique Round Table Podcast, including capsule reviews by Dan Persons of three films currently in release: GNOMEO & JULIET, Disney’s animated adaptation of Shakespeare; VANISHING ON 7TH STREET, an independent film with a TWILIGHT ZONE vibe making its way around the country with art house engagements; and WE ARE WHAT WE ARE, a cannibal horror story from IFC Films, currently playing exclusively in New York. Also up for discussion: the news that Michelle Pfeiffer is being courted to play Elizabeth Collins in DARK SHADOWS, the big-screen adaptation of the Gothic soap opera, set to be directed by Tim Burton with Johnny Depp as reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins.  And Steve Biodrowski celebrates Christopher Lee’s recent BAFTA Fellowship Award with a double-bill screening of SCREAM OF FEAR and THE GORGON. All this, plus the usual round-up of news, theatrical events, and home video releases.