Fede Alvarez

47 Ronin

This is a special edition of Short Starts, where we look at the past year of disappointing feature debuts from filmmakers who previously wowed us with their short films. Short films can be good calling cards, but they aren’t always the best proof that a filmmaker has the skills to immediately jump into a feature. Especially a big Hollywood production. In recent years, thanks to the combination of the Internet, social media and cheaper tools for making movies on a personal computer, we’ve seen some awesome short films go viral and then get the attention of studio execs and big time producers. The filmmakers, in only a few minutes of screen time, display a lot of talent and imagination and, most importantly, promise. But they’re often handed properties that are too much to handle even for experienced directors, as we saw with Neill Blomkamp’s assignment of Halo as a feature debut. Fortunately, that never happened and instead we got District 9, an extension of his popular short, Alive in Joburg. It’s fitting that Blomkamp disappointed with his sophomore effort (Elysium) in 2013, a year that overall was pretty dismal for directors transitioning from shorts to features. Terrible movies from people who had broken out with acclaimed shorts isn’t anything new. In the past we’ve seen Oscar nominees like Stephen Kessler and Christian E. Christiansen move “up” to Vegas Vacation and The Roommate, respectively. The past year was particularly heavy on the disappointing newcomers, though. 2013 even finished out with what’s possibly […]

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IntroFirstTimeDir

People don’t just get handed million-dollar blockbusters, nor do studios go door-to-door looking for someone to direct the next Jurassic Park. That’s why the following list of first time directors – while seemingly out of nowhere – certainly had backgrounds directing stuff like music videos or commercials.   Still – they were untested in feature filmmaking, and to the un-obsessed public it would appear that studios simply plucked a dude off the street. Like giving a small child a semi truck, the results were mixed.

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fede-alvarez-evil-dead

South American director Fede Alvarez isn’t exactly a household name, but if his career keeps moving in the same direction that it has been lately, it might only be a matter of time before that becomes the case. The first step on his journey was the production of a short film about giant robots called Panic Attack, which was so impressively staged despite the fact that it didn’t have big financial backing, it got spread all over the Internet and became a viral sensation. The success was enough for Alvarez to have Hollywood come calling, but what they presented him with could have been seen as more of a challenge than it was an opportunity. Sam Raimi tasked him with the lofty job of stepping into his own giant shoes and directing the Evil Dead remake, which was a project that—given its status as the king of the cult classics—was essentially predestined to get crapped on by horror fans all over the world. Alvarez’s take on the material was so fun that it was actually able to earn a surprising amount of praise though, even from a curmudgeonly audience. Given the success he’s seen so far, the next step on his path could be the crucial one that cements him as having a continued career as a director of studio films, so what’s it going to be?

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evildead02

Editor’s note: Rob’s review originally ran during SXSW last month, but we’re re-running it as Evil Dead officially hits theaters starting tonight. When a remake of Sam Raimi‘s seminal horror film was first announced it was met with a fair share of understandable skepticism. The hostility was tempered somewhat by the inclusion of Raimi, Robert Tapert and original star Bruce Campbell in the producers’ chairs, but still people wondered if that bloody magic could be recaptured. The answer is a tentative and extremely gory “yes.” Kind of. Somewhat. Unless you’re someone who prefers their horror films to be smart and scary in addition to being creatively bloody. Five friends head to a cabin in the woods (surprise!) looking for both a fun vacation and a place to help one of their own kick a bad drug habit. But withdrawal is the least of their problems when a bloody basement and a skin-bound book are discovered beneath their feet. Soon an evil entity is causing violent and messy mayhem in the form of extreme acts of self-mutilation and murder. And tree rape. Can’t forget the tree rape.

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mr balls

Short Starts presents a weekly short film from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. Director Fede Alvarez, who made the Evil Dead remake out this Friday, broke out with a short film that went viral. You’ve probably seen that one, the giant robot invasion pic Ataque de Panico! (Panic Attack!) — watch here if not. Before that, though, he and his Evil Dead writing partner, Rodo Sayagues, made a few other movies including one that you can also watch online. And it’s a lot more akin to what we can probably expect from his Hollywood horror debut. There’s blood, boobs, semen, guns, machetes and screams of pleasure and of pain. It’s called El Cojonudo: La Nunca Jamas Contada Historia De — loosely translated on screen as The Never Ever Told Story of Mr. Balls.

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Evil Dead Trailer

If, like all grandmothers, yours is into gallons of blood spewing from someone’s mouth, forced tree seduction, banned books and mangled lesbian make-out scenes, she is going to absolutely rave about the new redband trailer for the Evil Dead remake. She may even knit a sweater with the Necronomicon on it. And if you were afraid they were going to dial back on the violence and gore, take heart. Then squeeze it, jab an exacto knife into it, and you’ll have the kind of red-raining imagery that the Fede Alvarez-directed, Diablo Cody-scripted flick. If you’re sitting in the front row, it’s time to put on the raincoat we’ve provided for you:

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Evil Dead Poster

Most terrifying film ever? That’s a pretty bold claim to make, and it also signals (like the recent trailer did) that this is not your daddy’s Evil Dead. The film looks to be almost old school in its lack of humor and dedication to pure terror and practical effects. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell are on as producers, and they’ve given their blessing to director Fede Alvarez to craft something as terrifying as possible. But most terrifying ever? We’ll find out when it opens on April 12, 2013. [Yahoo! Movies]

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Evil Dead Trailer

It feels like just yesterday we we wondering why we were supporting the latest idiotic trend in movie marketing by watching a teaser for a trailer of the new Evil Dead. It was a move that makes even less sense now that, barely twenty four hours later, the actual trailer has been released. And it looks like a gloriously violent and gory return to real horror without any post-modern, meta or comedic trappings. The lovely Jane Levy and the always wonderful (and equally lovely) Lou Taylor Pucci co-star among a group of friends who head to a cabin in the woods for some dispensable reason only to find a nightmare involving murder, possession, mutilation and tree branch splinters in their bajangos. Director/co-writer Fede Alvarez has remade Sam Raimi‘s classic with Raimi’s blessing and hands-on involvement, and the result looks to be a hardcore horror film that immediately impresses with its tone and dedication to practical effects. Check out the gleefully nasty redband trailer for the new Evil Dead below.

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It’s hard not to be excited for the eventual release of Aztec Warrior, seeing as it’s set to combine the skills of Black Dynamite’s delightful director Scott Sanders and character acting’s patron saint Luis Guzman for a ridiculous tale of warring Mexican professional wrestlers. But, due to some concept art for the film that Twitch posted today, suddenly everyone’s feelings about the film might be a lot more confused. Sure, this poster titled ‘Aztec Warrior vs. The Office Robot’ looks pretty dang awesome, but what the heck are we actually looking at? Yep, you guessed it, that’s an artist’s rendering of Luis Guzman wearing a suit and a lucha libre mask while facing off with Robocop’s haywire robot ED-209. The question that any sane person must be asking after seeing this image is, “What exactly does a giant robot have to do with a movie about warring professional wrestlers?” Well, for one thing it’s not appropriate to ask a sane question about what is clearly going to be an insane project, and, for another, the image starts to make a lot more sense if you’ve followed the film careers of Mexican wrestling legends like Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras, whose movies Sanders cites as being inspirations for what he’s doing with Aztec Warrior.

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The girl with the eyebrows won’t be playing the man with the chin. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “scheduling issues” (which they also put in quotation marks) have forced Lily Collins to back away from taking the lead role in the remake of Evil Dead being produced by Sam Raimi and directed by Fede Alvarez. On the one hand, this is good news. On the other, it seems likely that the production team is still trying to make the film about a young drug addict trying to get clean when bad people with melting faces start biting at her. Why they’re moving so far away from the original concept is unknown, and whether or not the finished product will even resemble the original movie is also unclear. The real victim here? Alvarez – who has the impossible task of recreating a cult phenomenon. Too much to the right, and he’ll have a bland retread with no outside appeal. Too much to the left, and he’ll piss off fans. If he teeters both ways, he might fall off the tightrope altogether. Can’t we just pop in the discs in our Book of the Dead Box Set and forget about all this?

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Boiling Point

If you tried, you could probably find a bigger Evil Dead fan than me. It might take a little bit, but you could. I mean, I’ve got my three T-Shirts, my Necronomicon copies of the movies on DVD in addition to several other versions, including Blu-ray transfers, I’ve got my toys, books, comics, and video games too. So while I’ll never claim to be the biggest Evil Dead fan, I can say I’m a pretty big one. For years I’ve waited on a continuation to the story. I remember my first experiencing watching the original movie at a sleepover. It was Steve’s house, but he fell asleep early after playing too much Command & Conquer. Only me and Matt were awake and he, no joke, got a boner from the tree rape scene. There was always something off about Matt. But it wasn’t long after that I found the second. I remember Army of Darkness in theaters. Everything Bruce Campbell wrote or said about the franchise, I ate up. Waiting to hear about Evil Dead 4. When talk turned to a remake instead of a continuation, I was upset but hopeful. Maybe Campbell would be in it. Maybe they would cast Seann William Scott and that wouldn’t be all that bad, would it? Now we have firm news that the Evil Dead reboot is moving forward – time to praise the lord? Hardly. What we know sucks and here’s why.

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Late last night a lot of questions got raised about a new Evil Dead movie. There were reports that a new one was going into production, conflicting reports that Sam Raimi was just casting for his upcoming Oz: The Great and Powerful, and then confirmation from Bruce Campbell that a remake was ready to happen. This morning Bloody Disgusting was able to clear things up quite a bit by reporting that Raimi does indeed have a “quasi-remake” of The Evil Dead gearing up for production, but that he doesn’t intend on directing it himself. Instead the job is going to newcomer Fede Alvarez. Despite the fact that Bruce Campbell had the inside scoop on the project, there isn’t any word if he will have a role in the film or if they will be looking to cast all new actors. Given Campbell’s close relationship with Raimi, I don’t think that it’s a given that just because he knows about the project he will be in any significant way involved. That said, I think we can all agree that he better be. I would opine that a large reason Raimi’s first three films in this universe work is the screen presence of Campbell. Without him, you don’t have Ash, you just have some horror movie starring a dude.

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