The golden age of television horror keeps trotting along as both Lifetime and A&E have new horrors to unleash on the public!
Variety reports that Lifetime has ordered a two-hour pilot for supernatural drama “Sea Change,” based on the young adult novel by Aimee Friedman and adapted by Liz Sczudlo. Fernando Szew, Sharon Bordas, Lloyd Segan, Shawn Piller, and David MacLeod are exec producing for MarVista Entertainment. Here’s the book’s synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science… and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she’s happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother’s estate. There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can’t make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship… and reality.
“A Midsummer’s Nightmare,” from A+E Studios, is described as an adaptation of Shakespeare plays that are turned into contemporary horror mysteries. Each season would take on a different play, starting with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Screenwriter Anthony Jaswinski is adapting “Midsummer” as a story that finds two young lovers on a getaway in the woods who wind up in a struggle to survive as friends arrive to lure them home.
Allow us to be clear… We have absolutely no idea what is going on in this latest promo for Sadako vs. Kayako. It seems to be a tie-in ad of some sort but honestly? We don’t care. It’s awesome. Let’s just leave it at “Because, Japan” and enjoy, shall we?
On June 18, Sadako and Kayako will finally duke it out. Don’t act like you weren’t waiting for this shit. Stop lying to yourself.
Check out the promo below for the Kōji Shiraishi-directed Sadako vs. Kayako!
Tina Tamashiro and Mizuki Yamamoto star.
Synopsis: The film centers on Suzuka Takagi and Yūri Kurahashi, two young women caught between Sadako and Kayako.
In a review for Disturbing Behavior (1998) I mention how many of the post-Scream (1996) horror films were derivative of the late Wes Craven’s seminal film. Some achieved a moderate level of success, although you’d be hard-pressed to find many horror fans that will champion them today. Does anyone remember Urban Legend (1998) fondly? One title that made a bit of noise around the turn of the millennium is Cherry Falls (2000), an unquestionable Scream clone that gained a bit of notoriety for inadvertently becoming the most expensive television movie ever made. This is because the MPAA had so many issues with the picture that it couldn’t get distribution, leading to a deal with the USA cable network to air the film in July 2000. Despite being butchered by censors and unceremoniously dumped onto cable, the reception was surprisingly warm, with horror fans championing it as a bright spot amongst the dead lands of the early aughts.
Someone is killing teenagers in the picturesque town of Cherry Falls. First, a young couple is butchered as they make out near the waterfront, the boy killed semi-quickly while the girl is tortured for a while before being gutted and left hanging from a tree. Next, a girl home alone winds up dead, her parents arriving home to find her displayed body in the kitchen. The one trait the victims have in common: they were all virgins. Jodi (Brittany Murphy), daughter of the town sheriff, Brent (Michael Biehn), also happens to be a virgin. That isn’t likely to change soon, either, since she and her boyfriend Kenny (Gabriel Mann) just broke up. Sheriff Brent holds a meeting at the school with the local parents and fills them in on the killer’s m.o. much to their chagrin. Jodi spies on the secret parent meeting from a hallway up above when the killer appears and chases her down; she narrowly avoids being killed. Her best friend isn’t so lucky.
The revelation of a “virgin killer” rightly freaks out the entire school class, so they decide the best way to combat this guy is to lose what he seeks: their virginity. To ensure everyone is safe the school (read: kids, not the administration) throws a massive “Pop Your Cherry” party wherein everyone is guaranteed to get laid. While the kids plan out where to stage a hundred-person orgy, Jodi and Kenny, now working together, try to uncover the mystery of a girl named Loralee Sherman who went missing twenty-five years ago. Her disappearance may be directly tied into the current murders (spoiler: it is) with the revelations from Jodi’s sleuthing having a direct impact on her family.
Although this film feels too much like Scream frequently – for example, when the killer is chasing Jodi through the school it echoes Sidney facing the same problem – this movie is just about as subversive as Craven’s classic. It is perhaps not as sly as it aspires to be, dangerously toeing the line between lampooning rote slasher films and becoming one. The film’s unique voice comes from it’s clever hook – virgins are being killed so the local kids decide to lose their virginity – but sometimes that narrative takes a backseat to the boilerplate teenage horror gauntlet. Jodi jumps through plenty of expected hoops, with the end of the second act getting into heavy exposition territory before arriving at the also-expected ending. Scream handled these clichés with more of a sly wink than Cherry Falls. The satire and seriousness should be balanced more delicately – which is not an easy task – and this film dips into the latter more than it probably should.
Of course, it’s possible some of these issues could be chalked up to the meddling minds of the MPAA. Despite having an R-rating the film often feels neutered, with cutaways during most of the kill scenes and a lack of any visceral impact. Today the movie could have gotten away with a PG-13, if not for the bits of nudity that are seen mostly during the climactic teen sex-a-thon. If there’s one constant that has consistently sucked in horror, it’s the irony of seeing slasher films cut to ribbons by their respective studios due to MPAA requests. Most of these films have the exact same plot, with few variations, leaving their FX work to do most of the talking. And, really, that’s a big part of what the fans want to see anyway – masked killers hacking away at nubile fodder. Jettisoning those close-ups and lingering shots and geysers of crimson goo ruins the impact and entertainment value an awful lot. Not to mention all of the hard work the respective FX teams did, only to find out it was unceremoniously removed.
Director Geoffrey Wright assembled a fine cast here. Brittany Murphy works very well as Jodi, the mostly-innocent daughter of the town sheriff. She has just the right amount of girl-next-door charm mixed with confident sexuality, plus she’s super cute. Murphy carried this film just as capably as Neve Campbell in Scream, although here Murphy’s schoolyard chums aren’t as relevant to the story as Sidney’s, leaving Murphy to do most of the heavy lifting by herself. It’s too bad Michael Biehn doesn’t do big pictures anymore because the guy is one helluva solid actor when he wants to be. He plays Brent as a real cop’s cop, but he’s also a doting father; he doesn’t go with the “tough cop/tough father” approach usually seen from that type of character. And then there’s Jay Mohr, who is playing completely against type as an erudite educator who takes a vested interest in his students’ lives.
It might not do a lot to elevate this style of horror, but Cherry Falls is a fun, easy watch with a sexually charged plot and some solid moments. The gender identity of the killer is easy enough to figure out early on, but I liked how the film keeps viewers guessing by throwing little clues into scenes without being overt about their appearance. The script could be a little wittier – maybe subvert those tried and true slasher tropes a touch more – but even in its current state this is one of the better teen horror entries to emerge from the post-90s crop of imitators.
Framed at 1.85:1, with a 1080p image, Cherry Falls makes its Blu-ray debut with a dated, though far from poor, transfer. Universal has long been reviled by home video aficionados for their handling of film transfers and seeing as how this film never even went theatrical it isn’t hard to see why they’ve put minimal effort into preserving this cult classic. To be fair, this is not a bad image by any means; it’s just that it could look more polished by 2016 standards. Detail is evident and the overall definition is fairly sharp, though it’s clear some artificial sharpening has been done here, too. Film grain is smooth and fine. Colors look pleasing, and black levels are pretty solid. The image has a tendency to get a bit murky at times. Scream Factory can’t be faulted for using a master that’s “good enough” for most of the viewing audience. There may be clear room for improvement but this is a clear step up from every previously available release.
There’s a lot of life in the English DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound track – or the 2.0 stereo offering, if you prefer – with many punctual moments ratcheting up the tension. Dialogue comes through clean and clear, balanced well within the mix. The score is typical, hardly memorable, but it works for this film. Rears get minimal use but do add some decent ambiance sporadically. Subtitles are available in English.
Director Geoffrey Wright recorded a new audio commentary track for this release. The Aussie has plenty to say about his first American feature, discussing the many issues the film had on the road to release along with the usual shooting information, casting choices, cut scenes and more.
“Lose It or Die: The Untold Story of Cherry Falls” – Writer and Co-Executive Producer Ken Selden and Producer Marshall Persinger deliver a candid interview that touches upon the film’s many changes, scripting decisions, studio shakeups, cuts and more. This is a very good piece because it moves past the usual glad-handing most of these interviews wind up becoming.
“Cherry Falls Deputy: Amanda Anka” – Typical of these brief interviews, the actress discusses her career and how she got her part in this film.
“Vintage Interviews with Brittany Murphy, Michael Biehn, Jay Mohr, and Geoffrey Wright” – This is your standard EPK type stuff, with the cast & crew discussing what they’re doing on the film.
“Behind the Scenes Footage” – See some on-set footage of the film being made.
If you happen to have a BD-ROM drive, pop this disc in to read the original shooting script.
A theatrical trailer is also included.
NEW Audio Commentary with director Geoffrey Wright
NEWLose it or Die: The Untold Story of Cherry Falls – interviews with writer and Co-Executive Producer Ken Selden and producer Marshall Persinger
NEWCherry Falls Deputy Mina – an interview with Amanda Anka
Vintage Interviews with Brittany Murphy, Michael Biehn, Jay Mohr and director Geoffrey Wright
Our partners over at CryptTV have gotten a facelift and more, and we’re here to point you in the right direction! Read on for the skinny!
From the Press Release: CryptTV, the digital genre brand that specializes in creating short scary videos, announced a rebrand today that included a logo and color scheme overhaul.
Founded in April 2015, the year-old Crypt was looking for a new logo and design that represented the ‘Weird Is Good’ spirit and celebrated its growth and evolution as creator of new scary stories, according to co-founder and CEO Jack Davis.
“CryptTV prides itself on bringing exciting new stories and characters into the genre world through original video,” Davis said. “We wanted a new logo with a little more color, style, and passion that is indicative of the passion we have for scares and the radically new types of scary stories we want to tell.”
CryptTV releases video across Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, CryptTV.com, and through its newsletter, which fans can access by signing up on CryptFamily.com. CryptTV has over 1.1 million Facebook fans and attracts over 15 million video views per month on its original content. CryptTV lists Eli Roth and Blumhouse Productions as co-founders and strategic partners.
Playwright/screenwriter Cory Finley is set to make his feature debut with the psychological thriller Thoroughbred, and if it’s not yet on your radar, we can almost guarantee it will be once you get a load of the cast that has been assembled. For starters, The Witch‘s Anya Taylor-Joy is on board, and that’s just the beginning!
Per Deadline, Taylor-Joy (below) will star alongside Anton Yelchin (Green Room, Burying the Ex) and Olivia Cooke (“Bates Motel”) in the thriller, which June Pictures and B Story are preparing for a June production start.
Financed by June Pictures, the film focuses on a volatile friendship between two suburban teenage girls who discover that a murder might solve both of their problems.
June’s Alex Saks and Andrew Duncan are producing with B Story’s Kevin J. Walsh, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. B Story’s Ryan Stowell will executive produce.
Earlier this month we learned that IFC Midnight is giving What We Become a VOD/limited theatrical release beginning on May 13th, and today the film’s official trailer has arrived.
What We Become will open on Friday, May 13th, in New York at the IFC Center and in Los Angeles at the Arena Theater and will also be available for digital streaming through all major VOD outlets on the same day.
Written and directed by Bo Mikkelsen, film stars Mille Dinesen, Troels Lyby, Benjamin Engell, and Marie Hammer Boda.
Synopsis: The Johansson family’s idyllic summer is brought to an abrupt halt as deaths stack up from a virulent strand of the flu. The authorities start off by cordoning off the neighborhood but soon panic and force the inhabitants into quarantine in their hermetically-sealed houses. Isolated from the rest of the world, teen Gustav spies out and realizes that the situation is getting out of control. He breaks out, but soon the family of four come under attack from the riotous, bloodthirsty mob which forces them to the extreme to escape alive.
Some of these movies have been released countless times already, but the good folks over at Film Chest Media Group usually deliver on quality prints and more so if you’re ready to dip your toes into the waters of yesteryear, take notice!
From the Press Release: From the late ’20s through the ’60s, there was a time when the cinematic idea of the future bordered on visionary and downright absurd. Now, blast into the past with more than 15 hours of films which paved the way for the science-fiction genre, with the 12 Sci-Fi Cult Classics Collection, available in a special, three-disc DVD collector’s set May 31 from Film Chest Media Group.
On the cusp of the atomic age when rockets were launching into space and anything was possible, the science-fiction genre exploded onto the big screen, exploiting the curiosities and fears of the cosmic unknown.
Sci-fi producers pandered to the public with questionable discoveries and partial truths involving science of the future. The plots, while not completely believable, offered situations that featured different laws of science, separate from those known from past or present, and embraced the concepts of environmental change, space travel, and life on other planets, among a variety of topics, making great fodder for filmmakers of the time.
Featured in this special, 3-disc DVD collector’s set are Metropolis (1927), Phantom from Space (1953), The Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959), The Giant Gila Monster (1959), The Killer Shrews (1959), Teenagers from Outer Space (1959), The Wasp Woman (1959), The Amazing Transparent Man (1960), The Phantom Planet (1961), The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962), The Atomic Brain (1963), and Destroy All Planets (1969).
The 12 Sci-Fi Cult Classics Collection is presented in full screen with an aspect ratio of 4 x 3 and original sound. Special features include synopses and a photo gallery.
Fans of Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” have quickly become accustomed to Jay Wasley, who has gone on to be an integral part of the team. Now Wasley is stretching his legs a bit by sliding into the director’s seat for the creepy music video for Ben de la Cour’s “Down to the Water’s Edge.” Dig it!
From the Press Release: In his debut music video, Ben de la Cour partners with Sun House Films to release a chilling visual accompaniment to his recently released single Down to the Water’s Edge. De la Cour, describes his vision for the video as, “walking a fine line between love and obsession.” Patterning this video after some of his favorite horror films, de la Cour wanted to create a sense of ambiguous dis-ease. “I love the way [David Lynch] uses the suggestion of a linear plot in his movies, kind of like a writer would”, says de la Cour.
An active reader himself, de la Cour’s ability to motivate narrative is prominent in the plot line of Down to the Water’s Edge. Based on the perspective warranted to the viewer, de la Cour’s video allows the viewer to engage in an obsession that is neither real, nor even reality. We are suspended in the daydreams, whiles and whispers of a mad man.
Jay Wasley of Sun House Films films, directed, shot, edited and produced the video after meeting with de la Cour and Joe Lekkas of Flour Sack Cape Records in Nashville, TN. “We shared a common vision of how to communicate lyrical art into visual art”, mentions Jay Wasley. “It was an instant friendship.”
Moving forward Sun House Films has partnered to work with Flour Sack Cape Records to create other music videos with different artist on the label. Be on the look out for the next video of de la Cour’s already filmed and directed by Jay Wasley waiting for release.
The legendary Jim Henson Company is getting R-rated for upcoming film The Happytime Murders, set to blend puppetry with live action. The project, which caught our attention a while back, sounds like something we need to see right now, and it’s just become even more of a must-watch film now that a star has been found.
Deadline reports that Jamie Foxx is in early negotiations to star in STX Entertainment and the Jim Henson Company’s raucous comedy. The film, which is expected to get an R rating, will be directed by family member Brian Henson.
The story, written by Todd Berger & Dee Robertson and Erich & Jon Hoeber, follows the puppet stars of iconic TV show “The Happytime Gang,” who are some of the biggest celebrities around. But off camera, the family-friendly cast leads the kinds of lives that would make a tabloid writer blush.
When the “Happytime Gang” stars begin to be mysteriously murdered, two mismatched detectives – one a type-A, take-no-prisoners human with a secret and the other a crass, hard-drinking puppet with a connection to one of the victims – must put aside their differences to stop the killings and catch the culprit, all the while trying to resist the temptation to murder each other.
Foxx would play Detective Edwards, an LAPD cop who must re-team with his former partner Phil, a drinker and philanderer who is not keen on Edwards’ good-cop persona. Together they try to solve the murders, all the while bumping heads on each other’s methods.
Werewolf movies seem to be clawing their way back to the forefront of the genre lately, and word has hit the interwebs of a brand new furry flick headed our way! According to The Wrap, Bron Studios’ genre label The Realm is set to produce The Wildness, a horror-comedy that Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl) will direct from a script by Evan Dickson (The Bringing).
The story follows a ski bum who’s pushing 40 and still has a penchant for drugs, babes, and transcendental meditation. He’s forced to become an unlikely hero in order to save a mountainside community too drunk on wild parties and over-development to notice that their kids are being systematically turned into werewolves.
Bron’s Matthias Mellinghaus will produce The Wildness with renowned scream queen Barbara Crampton (pictured below). Bron’s Aaron L. Gilbert and Garrick Dion will serve as executive producers along with Jason Cloth of Creative Wealth Media Finance. Production is expected to start in January in Vancouver, and casting is already under way.