Creature Feature

31 Days of Horror - October 2011

They said it couldn’t be done. A fifth year of 31 Days of Horror? 31 more terror, gore and shower scene-filled movies worth highlighting? But Rejects always say die and never back away from a challenge, so we’ve rounded up the horror fans among us and put together another month’s worth of genre fun. Enjoy! Synopsis As a small mining company works to re-open an abandoned silver mine, employee Mark (Fred McCarren) invites his girlfriend Jessica (Ann-Marie Martin) and her friend Trish (Rebecca Balding) to join him and buddy Roger (Jeff Harlan) for a weekend off of work relaxing at a mountain cabin. What they didn’t plan on though was their work in the mines releasing the Boogens, a bloodthirsty breed of creature that caused the closure of the mine a hundred years prior.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Yes, there’s some great CGI at work in Clark Baker‘s Vessel, but it’s a movie that also celebrates atmospheric horror greats with its practical creature design. That blend is the bedrock for a solid science fiction trip. It follows a group of passengers on an airplane that come into contact with another ship midair and end up fighting back a group of tentacled baddies who definitely aren’t from around here. “Here” being, you know, our atmosphere. Everything about the short is pro-level. The score and strong performances from leads Brandon Bales and Julie Mintz are among the highlights, but it’s all here. Right on down to the sound design. Baker isn’t afraid to put his creatures front and center, and the design definitely pays off as the giant gooey roach/pig mutants are a thing of terrible beauty. Plus, the  script from Ross and Matt Duffer has just the right amount of chemistry and chaos. Overall, it’s an excellent film with plenty of fear and adrenaline. What will it cost? Only 12 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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Welcome back to Commentary Commentary, your weekly dish of directorial insight and/or, as indicated by last week’s column, shenanigans. This week we’re looking inside the mystery box with director Matt Reeves and uncovering what he has to say about our favorite recent monster movie, Cloverfield. Reeves did this commentary all by his lonesome, but something tells me J.J. Abrams was standing over him with a loaded gun lest Reeves divulge too much information. I’ll be listening intently for any Morse Code warnings or cries for help. Since this commentary track was laid down years ago, and since Matt Reeves has since directed Let Me In – more Morse Code messages. Hmmm – I have a feeling everything turned out okay. So here, in all of its Slusho wonder, is what I learned on the Matt Reeves commentary for Cloverfield. I wonder if there are going to be any Lost secrets. I hope there are Lost secrets. Or Star Trek 2. Okay, wishful thinking is over. Shutting up now.

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We packed the truck that would travel to location in Palenque, Mexico a few days before we traveled via airplane. The set crew: Steve Wang, Matt Rose, Shane Mahan, Brian Simpson, Richard Landon and me. Stan Winston would be with us, supervising the set work, understanding that we would only be gone for two weeks. At least that is what our work visas indicated. Palenque, Mexico was not a location easily reached. It required one flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City, another to Villa Hermosa, and finally a long ride in a Volkswagen bus through miles of rough country until we reached our hotel that was, from what we were told, the best in the area. It sat in a large clearing, surrounded by trees; two wings of rooms branched out from a central building that housed a restaurant/bar. Later, we discovered that Arnold Schwarzenegger had taken over the entire upper conference room and had turned it into a gymnasium that was open to anyone on the crew. As we settled into our rooms we were told that there would be screening of the film the next day for the cast and crew. My understanding was that this was for the benefit of the new crew members to get a chance to catch up and understand the shots needed to complete the film. A screen and projectors were set up in Arnold’s gym.

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It’s unclear why this is a red-band trailer. Maybe because it’s adequately startling? Or a bit gruesome without splattering blood everywhere? Or maybe because no one curses or gets naked? Either way, even though The Thing is a remake prequel with the same name as its originator featuring roughly the same plot, the strength of this piece of marketing is the fabulous creature design done as a group effort by Amalgamated Dynamics, The Aaron Sims Company and several others. From the design to the execution, it looks appropriately slimy and scary. Check it out for yourself, and watch out for that co-worker with the eye twitch.

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Today is the 91st birthday of a man who will live forever. Ray Bradbury had a profound effect on science fiction, on fantasy, on film, and on the future. Had he not become a writer, Bradbury would have been a magician, but in a lot of ways, he got to do both. Fortunately, some of his most iconic movies are available to stream right into your eyeballs using the wonders of technology (that Bradbury probably predicted). In case you want to discover the writer’s work or want to enjoy them all over again, here are five of those films and where to see them.

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Headphones on. DVD player loaded. Blank page open. That’s right, folks. It’s another edition of Commentary Commentary, our weekly look at a film’s commentary track and all the amazing anecdotes and discernment that come with it. This week we’re going international for the first time here in Commentary Commentary. We’re headed all the way to South Korea and all the way back to 2006. Not exactly sure which of those two settings are further away, but we have them right here on this pressed, metal disc. This week we’re listening to Bong Joon-ho‘s commentary on his monster movie, The Host. Does he end up revealing in it how much he hates everything America stands for? Spoiler alert: he doesn’t, but I’m sure this article isn’t going to help matters. So take a look at what I learned. I suddenly have a craving for Kimchi and Soju.

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Seeing as he is the man responsible for such seminal comedy classics as Animal House and The Blues Brothers, there is a chunk of the population at large that considers John Landis to be a comedic director. I mean, this is the guy who made Coming to America; clearly he’s the master of the chuckle. Horror fans will tell you different, however. Not only did Landis first cut his teeth on a monster movie called Schlock, he’s also the man responsible for one of the greatest horror movies of the 80s An American Werewolf in London. Why was that movie so good? Because it took Average Joe characters that we could relate to and put them into genuinely horrific circumstances, because it used top of the line practical and makeup effects to bring its creature elements to life. It didn’t show off with how much it could do using computer animation like modern horror; it stuck to giving us things that felt real and consequently made our skin crawl. For my money the monster and gore milieu never got any better than when directors like John Carpenter and John Landis were making gross movies with practical special effects, so of course horror fans must be wondering if Landis ever plans on dipping his toe back into the genre. Well, turns out, he does.

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The trailer for grindhouse throwback Dear God No! makes a bold claim, but it looks like it can easily back it up. It’s a promise that the film will have wanton violence, swinging breasts, and alliteration. Yes, dear reader, roving rapist bike gangs love poetic devices. It’s definitely not for the kiddos, and we’re all working on the honor system here, but the amount of silly brutality in this thing might not even be safe for some adults. The amount of nudity, people will probably be able to handle. Plus, it’s got a handy NSFW poster (from The Dude Designs) to go with it. Go ahead and bask in all its glory:

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Director Andre Ovredal has been fairly silent about his next project, only going as far as saying it’ll involve “American mythology,” but it looks like an English-language remake of his Troll Hunter will be going through in an attempt to frighten people who get scared at the sight of subtitles. According to Deadline Aust-Agder, Chris Columbus – no stranger to fantasy – will be taking on the remake as a producer. He notes the visuals as the main reason to mine the material for a remake, saying it “was a visceral, thrilling, cinematic rock and roller coaster ride of a movie. Visually, there are scenes in this film that American audiences have never seen. We want to introduce an international audience to this amazing moviegoing experience.” It seems obvious that an international audience can already enjoy the amazing moviegoing experience by going to see the movie, but it seems clear that Columbus is trying to get his version into more theaters and to sell it bigger overseas than the Norwegian original did through Magnolia. When I spoke with Ovredal about the possibility of a remake, he said, “I think that would be fun. I’d love to see that.” It’s unclear as to whether he’ll be involved in any capacity, but it looks like he’ll get his wish. Hopefully a big Hollywood version will spark even more interest in the original.

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There’s nothing quite like returning to the old neighborhood to find that your childhood playground hasn’t been torn down. You run your hand along rope ladders deemed “unsafe” by modern standards, feel the crunch of pebbles beneath your feet that did more to cut than soften a fall, sit in the swing and think for a moment about jumping out at the highest point. Super 8 is the cinematic equivalent of unearthing a time capsule and finding everything inside is still impossibly shiny and new. It’s impossible to remove the film from its own nostalgia, except for its intended audience of children discovering this type of filmmaking for the first time (and maybe even seeing their first Amblin logo). That’s a pretty powerful thing. With everyone clamoring to tap a market of adults eager for their own past while simultaneously getting kids into seats, J.J. Abrams‘s latest is one of the few that actually succeeds.

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If you were looking for the camp that a school of piranhas could deliver, look elsewhere. The new trailer for Shark Night 3D makes it clear that the filmmakers aren’t joking around (no matter what the title might make you believe). Kids. A lack of clothing. Water sports. Actual water sports. Sadly, there are sharks infesting the waters, and from the looks of the trailer, they might not have just wandered up from the estuary.

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Why Watch? Because all of our sexual education courses seemed like something out of a monster movie. This clever, harrowing, funny, frightening short from director Craig Macneill places us all in the classroom of Miss Lovecraft as she tries to explain the horrific drawing that’s laid out in colored chalk on the board. What are those wings? Does it have teeth? Why does she keep making the class call it a “vagina”? It is the sweat on your brow. The darkness in your heart. The sticky release that comes at the climax. Fans of H.P. Lovecraft and anyone who’s ever had an awkward sexual encounter should be able to relate. Plus, the voice over makes it. What Will It Cost? Just 11 minutes of your time. Check out Late Bloomer for yourself:

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with Troll Hunter writer/director Andre Ovredal, Prom screenwriter Katie Wech, and The Conspirator screenwriter James Solomon. Perhaps you’re starting to see a theme emerge. Plus, Dustin Rowles and Joanna Robinson from Pajiba enter the Movie News Pop Quiz ring, and both safely exit. Then, we talk about Doctor Who. Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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So, a movie called Troll Hunter was playing at Fantastic Fest, and one sleepy morning, I woke up early to check out the press screening because someone needed to review it. I knew nothing of it, and soon trolls were filling the screen in all their awesome glory. Going into the movie blind (in regards to the look of the monsters) is the best way to go, but there’s a new trailer out for the curious. It puts more of an emphasis on the action, which is probably a good call since that’s the best part of the film, and it gives away the look of a lot of the trolls. Three students head out into the forest with a game manager to see if the myths about trolls are really true, and what they find smells terrible and seems angry.

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When the calendar page turns to October, we Rejects have only one thought: horror. To celebrate this grandest and darkest of months, we’ll cover one excellent horror film a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 31 Films perfect for viewing on a dark, chilly, October night. If you, like us, love horror and Halloween, give us a Hell Yeah and keep coming every day this month for a new dose of adrenaline. Synopsis: The police are investigating some mysterious disappearances in a small community. Is it a serial kidnapper? Extortionists leaving ransom notes? Briefcases full of money from drug deals gone bad enticing men to take off from home? Nope! It’s giant mutant ants.

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Every Sunday in October, Old Ass Movies will be teaming with 31 Days of Horror in order to deliver a horror film that was made before you were born and tell you why you should like this. This week, Old Ass Horror presents the shocking tale of a man who disappears from a train station only to emerge later as a gruesome half-man/half-alligator! The exclamation mark means that you’ve never seen terror like this before! Terror!

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Our worst fears have been realized. Not only is there a third entry in the Lake Placid franchise, but it contains videographic proof that cartoon crocodiles have come to life and are attacking topless young women. Either that, or their CGI budget was $3.50. This looks like a truly awful cinematic experience, leading me to believe that The Asylum had something to do with it. However, in the same way that you’d rather watch an Asylum trailer than really watch the movie, this trailer has everything it takes to put a smile on your face. As long as you’re older than 18, because there’s a bit of nudity. Really blatant, over-the-top nudity.

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The production’s still in the early stages of monster development, but “moviegoers can expect an upscale creature feature along the lines of… Pan’s Labyrinth.”

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