30 September 2005

"When Jack Met Wendy", or, "Sleepless In Colorado"?

I've heard of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" interpreted as a vehicle for a homophobic agenda, and the original "Planet Of The Apes" as a metaphor for the Vietnam era, but who ever thought of Stephen King's "The Shining" as fodder for a sappy, Nora Ephron-esque romantic comedy?

An unnamed post-house held a competition where assistant editors were challenged to ‘re-cut’ trailers that would change the nature/genre of famous movies. This riff on Stanley Kubrick's classic 1980 adaptation of "The Shining" was the winner (all that's missing is the Motown sing-a-long and a shot of Shelly Duvall throwing up her arms in the rain).

Share the love here (and here are the other entries: "West Side Story" and "Titanic")

Want more? Here's "The Shining" again, but with bunnies...

Because Nothing Rhymes With "Quartodecimanism"

Remember when Christian rock meant "Stryper"? No, I don't either, although I did find one of their albums in my condo complex's communal trash room last weekend (left it and took home the mint copy of Philip Michael Thomas' "Living The Book Of My Life" instead). Anyway, someone's went and recorded what probably is the most obvious song parody of all time, Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water" as..."Walked On The Water" (we've all thought it at one time or another, right?). And while you're enjoying the righteous tuneage, check out some of my storyboard panels for the feature film "Gospel Of John".

29 September 2005

13 More Reasons To Bit Torrent...

"Scream"--Canada's superb horror channel that you really should be subscribing to--will premiere Showtime's much-anticipated "Masters Of Horror" anthology series just in time for Halloween. Now you've got a legit reason not to answer the doorbell and turn off the porch light! Oh, sorry...too early...

The series will offer feature a baker's dozen of hour-long chillers from 13 of the genre's most acclaimed and influential directors: Dario Argento (Suspiria, Tenebrae), Larry Cohen (It's Alive, God Told Me To), Lucky McKee (May), Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep), Joe Dante (The Howling, Piranha), Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers, The Stand), Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Innocent Blood), Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Funhouse) and of course, my favorite, John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, The Fog). Stories are either adapted from/or written by their original authors, including H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Matheson, Joe R. Lansdale, Stephen King, Clive Barker, David Schow, and comics greats Steve Niles, Bruce Jones, and Bernie Wrightson.

Can this get any better? Yes it can--later in the season, Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi The Killer) will present his first U.S. production that will likely cause Michael Medved a massive coronary.

The first episode, "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" is from Coscarelli, adapted by Lansdale from his own short story, and yes, features Angus Scrimm (no word on a Reggie Bannister cameo, though). Series debuts October 29 at 10pm ET.

15 September 2005

Farewell To A Hollywood Legend: Robert Wise Passes Away At 91

Condolences to the family and friends of Hollywood legend Robert Wise, who passed away today of heart failure in Los Angeles at the age of 91. Wow, what a career this fellow had...

He was the film editor on Orson Welles' debut , the classic (and frequent winner in most of those "best film of all time" polls) "Citizen Kane" (1941), one of those rare films that almost single-handedly changed motion picture language and techniques.

Wise became a director with 1944’s "The Curse of the Cat People", after the original director fell too far behind schedule. Horror film icon Val Lewton hired Wise to direct another chiller, "The Body Snatcher" the following year. He directed 37 more films, among them some of the most acclaimed, influential, and beloved in the short history of the art form. Genre fans in an era pre-Lucas and Spielberg blockbusters marveled to his still-classic “The Haunting” and “The Day The Earth Stood Still”, as well as “The Andromeda Strain” and the underrated “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. The Hollywood musical was forever defined by his “West Side Story” (co-directed with Jerome Robbins) and “The Sound Of Music”. He worked in almost every genre, including straight drama (“Somebody Up There Likes Me”), the war film ("Run Silent Run Deep"), historical spectacle (“Helen Of Troy”), and the Western ("Tribute to a Bad Man"). His last film was 2000’s “A Storm In Summer”, which he directed, incredibly, at age 85 for Showtime from an unproduced screenplay by Rod Serling.

Wise was awarded four Oscars during his career, as well as The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1966. He also received the D.W. Griffith Award from the Directors Guild of America in 1988. He served as both President of the Director’s Guild and President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was championed by seemingly everyone who ever knew and worked with him.

I had the pleasure of meeting Wise briefly when he came to Toronto in 1995 to promote the book “Robert Wise On His Films”. In a cramped memorabilia shop, he graciously took the time to speak to every one of his fans and sign materials despite the obvious ravages of age and road fatigue.

"No, Meester Bond, I Expect You To Work For Scale"...

I'm not a huuuuge James Bond fan, really, but I've always dug the series as agreeable eye candy ever since I first caught "The Spy Who Loved Me" on a matinee back in 1977, on one of the rare weekends when Doug McClure wasn't headlining some cheap-ass Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation. Yes, call me sacrilegious but I'll admit that for most of my teen years, Roger Moore was the definitive JB for me (could be worse--for some, Cathy Lee Crosby is the definitive Wonder Woman...). Thankfully, it only took one screening of "Thunderball" on a dusk-til-dawn all-nighter to set me straight before graduation...

With Fleming's first Bond novel, "Casino Royale", pegged by the Broccolis as the next official adaptation and much talk of auditioning a younger replacement for the (reportedly) unceremoniously drop-kicked-out-of-the-series Pierce Brosnan, word has it this week that the former Remington Steele/Thomas Crown v. 2.0 is still in the running after all.

Sony, which now owns MGM, have rejected just about every serious candidate to date, from Daniel Craig to Gerald Butler (everyone's ideal choice, Clive Owen, has made it clear he isn't interested in the franchise). The casting is left to four people: Amy Pascal of Sony, series producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, and director Martin Campbell, each of whom have their favorites. With Brosnan's four entries having outgrossed all previous films in the series as well as other attempted spy franchises like the "Bourne" and "XXX" capers, Sony may reconsider their policy on his age and alleged outrageous salary demands. Brosnan claims Sony has asked him to "come back", but whether he dons the tuxedo for a fifth time will be up to the series producers, who don't seem to know what they want (which would explain why "a-Ha" was once chosen to perform a title song). Sean Connery and Roger Moore had similiar feuds with the Broccolis during their respective reigns--Dalton and Lazenby probably would've returned for meal vouchers if asked.

"Casino Royale", as everyone probably knows, has already been adapted twice before: once, in 1954 as part of the "Climax!" live TV series, starring American Barry Nelson as "Jimmy Bond", and again in 1967 as a madcap spoof/debacle that starred three actors as JB (David Niven, Peter Sellers, and Woody Allen), went through five directors, and is best remembered for its cloying Burt Bacharach score. Too bad the producers are such Octopussies and won't budge from the formula--Quentin Tarantino has offered to direct "Casino Royale" as long as he can set it in the 1960s and cast Daniel Day Lewis as the man with the license to kill.

13 September 2005

Now Heeere's Johnny!: Carpenter Returns To Directing

Just a brief detour from my rigorous TIFF 2005 shenanigans (which included my purchasing an annoying new cell phone--I gotta stop hanging out in shops between screenings and spend more time in bars arguing Eisensteinian montage) here with great news for horror buffs and discriminating film tastes (yes, they can reside in the same body, let alone latitude and longitude): John Carpenter's self-imposed hiatus from directing has come to an end with the announcement that he would be helming a segment of Showtime's upcoming "Masters Of Horror" anthology series entitled "Cigarette Burns". But we heard about that sequel to "The Thing ", "The Stars My Destination", and "Pincushion", too, didn't we? Well, now there's proof. Click here for some snapshots from the set of what will hopefully atone for the misfire (albeit an enjoyable one) that was "Ghosts Of Mars". This should be one helluva series, with other segments helmed by the likes of Dario Argento, John Landis, Tobe Hooper, Lucky McKee, Joe Dante, and Don Coscarelli.

"Cigarette Burns" was written by "Ain't It Cool"s "Moriarity", aka Drew McQueeney, with Scott Swan and promises a "twisted investigative thriller in the vein of 'Chinatown'". Jimmy Sweetman, a tracker of obscure film prints, is hired to unearth the lost "Le Fin du Monde". Legend has it that its one and only audience was driven into a murderous rage.

Hmmm, a little bit of Carpenter's "In The Mouth Of Madness", a little bit of Ramsey Campbell's novel "Ancient Evenings".
The series debuts on October 28th, and hopefully, someone in Canada is working on the broadcast details.

07 September 2005

All That's Missing Is A Faith Hill Cover Of "Can You Read My Mind?"

Production on Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns" is reportedly on hiatus for a few weeks--so much for "faster than a speeding bullet"...just when is this thing going to be ready? Supes' long-overdue screen resurrection has dragged through so many multiple screenplays (Kevin Smith, J.J. Abrams) and bailing directors (Tim Burton, Brett Ratner) you'd swear it was a Terrance Malick opus. The good news is that production stills are starting to emerge in legitimate media sources--the even better news is that the images look damn promising. I don't know how they're going to spin this one as a bizarro combo remake/sequel to 1981's "Superman 2"--most of us will buy the new young buck Brandon what's-his-name subbing for the late, great Christopher Reeve, and even Kevin Spacey for Gene Hackman, but how did New York City circa-1978 become 2005 Sydney? Will The Daily Planet reporters still be using IBM Selectrics? If anyone can make us believe a man can fly--again--it'll be Singer, who gave us two "X-Men" films far better than we probably deserved...

TIFF'D In Toronto

Sorry I've been scarce lately, but with the end of summer comes the massive chore that is planning for the annual Toronto International Film Festival. Having been screwed by the ridiculous "lottery" process for the third year in a row, my significant other and I have been scrambling to salvage the remaining tickets from our coupon book without having to settle for the three-hour Tibetan yak herding docudrama. Operating solo, I'll be covering the 10 day cinematic bacchanalia for my old haunt, the U.K.-based website Movieforum, offering (hopefully) informed and entirely prejudiced opinions on somewhere in the neighborhood of two dozen films including David Cronenberg's "A History Of Violence", Terry Gilliam's "Tideland", Lars von Trier's "Manderlay", Steven Soderbergh's "Bubble", Neil Jordan's "Breakfast On Pluto", Eli Roth's "Hostel", Roman Polanski's "Oliver", Park Chan Wook's "Sympathy For Lady Vengeance", Shane Black's "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" and of course, Sturla Gunnerson's "Beowulf And Grendel". Check out my daily coverage here at the Movieforum blog site.