Eduardo Sanchez

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Editor’s note: This review of V/H/S/2 originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it was going under the title S-VHS. We’re re-running it now as the film hits VOD and a limited theatrical roll-out this Friday. Reactions were understandably mixed to last year’s horror anthology film V/H/S, but there was enough of a positive response to encourage the team to move forward on a new incarnation. No, it’s not time for Laserdisc yet (maybe next year), but in its place we have the forgotten future of video tape…  S-VHS. In addition to changing out most of the writers/directors from the first film (only Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard remain) they’ve also, wisely, shortened the experience by sticking to four shorts (plus wraparound) instead of five. This time the “story” that brings the shorts together involves a pair of inept private eyes investigating the disappearance of a college student. They break into his ratty house and decide their investigation would be best served watching the unlabeled videotapes strewn about the living room. The four stories that follow are a mixed bag quality-wise, but thankfully there are none as bad as the “dumbasses in the woods” segment from the first movie. The concept remains that everything we see was filmed entirely on personal cams to give a POV sensation. If they do share a theme with each other it’s more laughs/fewer scares — which I gotta say is kind of odd for a so-called horror movie.

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Horror fans rejoiced at the prospect of V/H/S, a horror anthology film directed by several up-and-coming indie genre directors, centered around a band of criminals watching VHS recordings of terrible happenings. Even before V/H/S was released, the wheels already began to turn on the film’s sequel, V/H/S/2, which is currently playing at the Tribeca Film Festival. Much like it’s predecessor, V/H/S/2 is comprised of a framing device and four short films (compared to the original film’s five). Simon Barrett (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next), directed the film’s framing device, “Tape 49,” about a private investigator and his assistant breaking into a house and going through all those terrifying VHS tapes. Barrett also wrote the segment directed by Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next), “Phase 1 Clinical Trials,” in which Wingard starred as a rich boy whose bionic eye makes him see ghosts. Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale (The Blair Witch Project) directed “A Ride in the Park,” which is a largely comic chronicle of a biker’s metamorphosis into a zombie and the havoc that ensues after he is bitten. And Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun) directed the self-explanatory “Alien Abduction Slumber Party,” recorded from the POV of a little dog attached to a camera. The film is rounded out by Gareth Evans’ and Timo Tjahjanto’s Lucio Fulci-inspired “Safe Haven,” about reporters to record the inner sanctum of a cult, which involves both zombies and monsters. I sat down with the rather chatty group of Barrett, Eisener, Sanchez, and Wingard, mid-snack session, as they discussed what they learned from the first V/H/S, and how […]

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S-VHS

What the hell is that? And that, horror fans, is the best way to leave your audience salivating for more when it comes to premiering a first trailer for the newest entry in your burgeoning horror anthology film franchise. Over at ShockTillYouDrop, the first trailer for S-VHS has popped up mere days before the film premieres at this week’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s a slim little number, but it kicks off with a slice of what I’m guessing might be my favorite section from the new film – a child’s birthday party at what looks to be a family’s cabin in the woods, interrupted by something that likes to screech like a combination banshee and T.Rex. Banshrex. T.Shee. Either way, I can’t wait to meet it. This time around, the directing talent behind the anthology film includes Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Edúardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Evans, and Jason Eisener, so yes, there’s probably going to be something here for everyone. I saw and reviewed the first VHS at last year’s Sundance and flipped for it (and screamed and cried and tried to hide in my sweater and scarf to no avail), so my hopes are quite high for this next entry. Ready to see some of what the next chapter in the VHS franchise holds? Take a look at the first trailer for S-VHS after the break. Have your sweaters and scarves at the ready.

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VHS Horror Movie

Recent horror release V/H/S was kind of a mixed bag, but that’s to be expected from anthology films that combine shorts from different filmmakers into a loosely connected whole. Regardless of which segments were your favorites, or which you thought didn’t work, it’s still pretty cool that V/H/S took little known filmmakers like the guys from Radio Silence and let them present their work alongside much-loved directors like Ti West and Joe Swanberg. So, good news for horror fans and horror creators alike, V/H/S/2 is already in the works, and it’s already signed up some top notch directors.

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My memories of seeing The Blair Witch Project in theaters are vivid – after launching one of the first viral campaigns to utilize the Internet to perpetuate a false mythology that felt real, the modern papa of the shaky-cam found-footage way of storytelling exploded on to the screen. And by “exploded,” I mean that it gave me a huge headache and provided a couple moments of genuine terror, which is still pretty much par for the course on found fauxtage flicks. Blair Witch co-writer and co-director Eduardo Sanchez never quite managed to translate the popularity and innovation of the film into his other works – smaller horror films that fell by the wayside. But his latest film, Lovely Molly, could potentially reestablish Sanchez as a horror director to watch. The film’s plot is a basic one – it centers on Hannah Lodge‘s Molly, a “troubled” woman with secrets to spare – and some sort of evil lurking inside of her. The film looks to break out some standard horror elements – a creepy house, weird noises, unexplained occurrences – presented by way of a mix of regular cinematic lensing and some found footage/POV shots. That could just work.

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If the notion of another Blair Witch movie exhausts you, try to imagine mustering up the energy and excitement for returning to the project that put you on the map creatively. After the film came out in 1999, it represented a grand shift in thinking, but it didn’t really lead to success for co-directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. Both have languished in the tepid world of indie horror filmmaking, which may be why they’re so eager to get back to the woods. However, Sanchez is coming off the heels of a critically praised Lovely Molly – which played at Toronto. Still he’s championing a return to Blair Witch and waiting on Lionsgate to stop dragging their feet. “It’s completely up to Lionsgate,” Sanchez told Bloody Disgusting. “Dan and I are ready to do it. We’ve been toying around with a sequel idea that we really like. It’s just a matter of getting our schedules in line and having Lionsgate sign off on the idea. We’ve been ready to do a ‘Blair Witch’ movie for a long time. We’re as close as we’ve ever been to making it happen but it’s still not a guaranteed thing.” The silver lining is that Sanchez and Myrick want to move away completely from the awful, no good, very bad sequel Book of Shadows. Plus, there is no plan to include first-person filmmaking in the new project. But at the root of it all, this would still be a years-later sequel to a property […]

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Last week the programmers for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival introduced the main course of this year’s festival lineup, fifty-three films from all over the world, big and small, about any number of subjects. The list was so impressive I ran out and booked a hotel room. So, now that I’m financially locked in to heading up to the city of David Cronenberg and that rapper who called himself SNOW, I’ll be following future announcements by the festival pretty closely. Today brought a big one. Adding to their initial lineup of films, TIFF has added a bunch of documentary works by fairly large documentary filmmakers and a bunch of genre works from fairly deranged genre filmmakers. First let’s take a look at some of the docs. Thom Powers is the lead programmer for documentaries, and about this year’s lineup he said, “I’m thrilled at the large number of veteran filmmakers who have brought us new works this year. The line-up contains a wide range of memorable characters – crusaders, convicts, artists, athletes, nude dancers, comic book fans, dog lovers and more. Not to mention the epic 15-hour Story of Film. These documentaries will have audiences discussing and debating for months to come.” I don’t think I’ll have time for that fifteen hour one, I’ve only got five days in the city, but the one about nude dancers is definitely on my docket.

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Welcome back to Commentary Commentary, where we dive into the shiny backside of your favorite DVDs and bring you the magical insight that comes from hearing filmmakers talk. This week we’re going back to the woods, trekking through miles and miles of uncharted forest area, and looking for some lost film students. Not necessarily film school rejects. You can’t really be rejected if you wind up dead in the woods, right? Doesn’t matter. This week we’re listening to the commentary track for The Blair Witch Project, the infamous, no-budget shocker that became a cultural phenomenon in 1999. It also remains a sure-fire way to scare your friends or making them violently ill from all the shaky cam. Here’s what we learned from the commentary on this, the movie that kicked off the latest trend of found-footage moviemaking.

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This week’s Culture Warrior is getting its bunker ready for Y2K.

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Amy Smart and Tom Chiou in Seventh Moon

Nine years removed from his first smash hit, writer/director Eduardo Sanchez has tapped into Chinese mythology with his latest creation, Seventh Moon.

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