Welcome to August, the month when studios, having already fired off all their high-profile (not to mention high concept) summer guns, unleash what amounts to their second tier of releases, the stuff that doesn’t automatically trigger broad media attention, things with a more… “culty,” shall we say?… appeal, and things that are, let’s just say it, no durn good. However, since even the big tent-poles can now be somewhat inconsequential in their story-telling and quality (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, anyone?), it’s become less surprising that a dog-day release could have been just as welcome, if not more so, in the weeks preceding.
Such is the case with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, a fun space adventure based on a Marvel comic book that racked up record box office in its opening week, and earns its goodwill in a number of ways. I take a look at the film in my latest review for Jim Freund’s HOUR OF THE WOLF — click on the player to hear the segment, or right-click on the title to download.
Unlike other Halloween attractions, Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights is closely tied in with the horror film genre – perfectly appropriate for company created such classics as DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, and THE WOLF MAN. Each Halloween season – which, for the major theme park events, launches in September – Universal offers mazes and monsters inspired by contemporary horror films. 2001 includes attractions based on SCREAM IV, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, the upcoming prequel-remake of THE THING, and the recent remake of THE WOLFMAN, among others. (The latter two are Universal properties – marking the first time the Halloween event has taken much advantage of its own classic library, as opposed to hiring monsters from other companies.) Breaking with tradition, this year’s Halloween Horror Nights also features mazes inspired by “La Llarona,” a ghostly Mexican legend, and by shock-rock pioneer Alice Cooper, who recently released a sequel to “Welcome to My Nightmare,” his classic 1975 solo debut album. On Friday, September 23, Universal Studios launched Halloween horror nights with the Eyegore Awards, which are handed out to celebrities in the horror genre. This year’s recipients were David Arquette (SCREAM), Jamie Kennedy, Rain Wilson (who starred in Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES before going on to THE OFFICE), Bailee Madison (DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK), Emma Belle (FINAL DESTINATION 5), and Alice Cooper. Corey Feldman (THE LOST BOYS) hosted the event, whose presenters included, Rob Zombie (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES), Adam Green (HATCHET), Thomas Jane (THE MIST), James Gunn (SLITHER), and Calico Cooper (Alice’s daughter, who accepted the award on his behalf).
As usual, the awards show was preceded by the red carpet arrival of this year’s presenters, recipients, and other horror celebrities. Check out the video for interviews with James Gunn, Sid Haig (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES), Derek Mears (FRIDAY THE 13TH), Calico Cooper, Adam Green, and Halloween Horror Nights Creative Director John Murdy, who explains why FINAL DESTINATION 5 would not make a good Halloween maze but THE THING does. All of this of course, was merely prelude to the Halloween activities inside the Universal Studios theme park, which you can read about here. Along with the special Halloween attractions, Halloween Horror Nights also includes all the usual Universal Studios theme park rides: The Simpsons, Jurassic Park, and Revenge of the Mummy.
James Gunn’s Blog has his report on his Comic Con panel for SUPER, in which Rainn Wilson (THE OFFICE) dons the costume of The Crimson Bolt.
The panel consisted of me, Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, and producers Ted Hope and Miranda Bailey. I was so excited that everyone changed their plans around to make it to the Con after showing them a cut of the film last week.
SUPER is a VERY low-budget film made as a labor of love by all involved – as I said at the panel, everyone on the film, from me, to all of the actors, to the composer Tyler Bates, are all working on the film for the lowest amount the guilds allow.
Yes, I know, there have been other films that are superficially the same as ours, movies about real people becoming superheroes – including some very good ones. But ours is the first that, although funny, focuses first and foremost on the emotions of the characters involved. It is a dark, gritty, violent, no-hold-barred independent film that is, I promise you, not at all what you expect.
The offical description of SUPER:
After his wife falls under the influence of a drug dealer, an everyday guy transforms himself into Crimson Bolt, a superhero with the best intentions, though he lacks for heroic skills.
As Gunn says, it sounds somewhat familiar — but these ‘drama-dies’ rise and fall on their style and the talent of the people involved. See highlights of the panel (but no scened from the film) at the link above.