Frankenstein

Max Landis

As is the case with most Ghostbusters 3 rumors (the kind that we’ve kinda, sorta, mostly refused to cover for years now, except when it seems somewhat appropriate), the latest chatter to come flying out of Hollywood right into the Internet’s face has already proven to be false. Last night, Nikki Finke posted a story to her brand new site that reported that Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis was doing a polish on the latest iteration of whatever the hell this movie is now, which Landis immediately debunked via his Twitter. Finke, in fine form, went ahead and deleted the entire post sometime after Landis shot down both her reportage and her two apparent sources. Of course, this is still the Internet, and you can’t really delete anything from the Internet, so here is a cached version of Finke’s story, if you’re into that sort of thing. You know what’s still culturally relevant? Ghostbusters. You know what’s not? Ghostbusters 3 rumors, especially the kind that can be shot down in mere hours. But this is not about Ghostbusters 3 rumors! (Well, not really.) This is about actual, factual projects that people — in this case, Max Landis — are actually, factually working on right now. You know, movies we might actually get to see. 

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aboutlastnight1

You’ve seen our preview of our most anticipated movies of 2014. Now put away those expectations for a bit and be patient, because it’s homework time. As you may know, each weekend I offer some recommendations for movies, both well-known and obscure, to see after you’ve watched that latest hot new release. I’ll be continuing this feature into the new year, so you can look forward to adding more to your backlog queue with titles tied to everything from The Legend of Hercules to Night at the Museum 3. First, though, I want to get a jump on some of the most obvious movies of the past related to the upcoming movies of the near future. These are primarily the original works receiving remakes in the first half of 2014 — or older works based on the same stories. And as usual, some are more popular and familiar than others. Couldn’t you just skip the old versions and go blindly into the new as if it’s a fresh property? Of course, and you can keep on listening to cover songs, too. And always see the movie instead of reading a book. However, if you’re interested in knowing your history and also being able to judge something with proper awareness of what came before, whether you want to make comparisons or not, read ahead and prepare yourself for the next six months of moviegoing.

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McAvoy-Frankenstein

So far the only casting news we’ve gotten about director Paul McGuigan’s (Lucky Number Slevin) upcoming Frankenstein project has been the delightful decision to make Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, grow a hump, drool a bit, and play the demented lab assistant Igor—who’s said to be a lead character in this new look at the classic material. Okay, so maybe the hump and the drool is just speculation at this point, but by all accounts this Max Landis-written (Chronicle) take on the Frankenstein mythos is supposed to have much more in common with what we’ve seen in monster movies and Halloween decorations over the past fifty years or so than it does with Mary Shelley’s more heady and less fun gothic novel that originally created the characters. Given that premise, it stands to reason that another of the film’s central characters, the eccentric mad scientist Dr. Victor Frankenstein, will likely be a cackling, lab coat-wearing, crazy-eyed fiend. And McGuigan has now found just the actor to play him.

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Frankenstein DVD Commentary

IT’S ALIVE! IT’S ALIVE! For 81 years, those words have surely been said from at least one person to another every year around Halloween time, and for good reason. Not only is Frankenstein arguably the best of the Universal monsters from the 1930s, the monster at the film’s center has become a pivotal image for October 31st. So, to round our horror slate of commentaries, we’re diving into the classic original, our oldest film covered to date. Naturally, this means we aren’t listening to any of the cast or crew from the film (although we get some quotations from director James Whale). Since the first commentary track came out in 1984 – King Kong Criterion Collection, which will be covered at some point here – films from days of old have to settle for film historians to talk shop while they play out. That’s not to say there aren’t invaluable bits of information found here, but expect lots of film theory and LOTS of snobbery. Who knows? Maybe Rudy Behlmer, who is featured here, likes to check his brain at the door with the rest of us. Checking brains at the door. Frankenstein’s monster. There’s a joke in there somewhere, but probably not a very funny one. Let’s get the commentary started, shall we?

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Universal Classic Monsters

It takes some bravado to call something “The Essential Collection,” but Universal, over the course of its 100-year history, has basically written the rule book on monster movies, so a bringing together of their classic monsters under one Blu-ray box should be given a bit of slack. Not that it needs the slack, as the set is filled to the brim with good stuff for horror fans. Between the years of 1931 and 1954, Universal Studios produced some of the most iconic and influential horror films in the history of cinema, based on some of the most influential spooky stories in history. It began with Carl Laemmle Jr., the son of Universal founder Carl Laemmle, whose passion for literature and enthusiasm for seeing these great stories brought to life yielded two box office hits in 1931 with Dracula and Frankenstein. Even years after Laemmle had lost control of the studio, the legacy he forged lived on. These films would go on to inspire generations of film lovers and film makers, many of whom are still scaring us today. To celebrate in 2012, the year of the 100th birthday of Universal, we fans have been given this Universal Classic Monsters Blu-ray release, a celebration of the original eight, the most popular and iconic of the bunch. Many have been retold, rebooted and remade, but the originals still stand the test of time, from Bela Lugosi’s glowing eyes to Millicent Patrick’s iconic design for the Creature from the Black Lagoon, they are the forefathers of […]

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The speculative, non-committal casting news rolls along through the end of the week. According to The Wrap, Daniel Radcliffe, whose lightning bolt scar is just now fading, is interested in taking a lead role in the new Fox version of Frankenstein. One might naturally think that the lead role would be Victor Frankenstein (or even the monster), but apparently the update will spend more time with the beloved hunchbacked assistant. Based on a Max Landis (Chronicle) script, the movie will be directed by Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin) and will be among many, many new adaptations of Mary Shelley‘s classic (which happens to be in the public domain). Not only is it great to see Radcliffe continue the genre work, it’s also great to see him take on what has to be a strange role. Plus, I bet everyone is looking forward to the month in 2014 when 5 “Frankenstein” adaptations hit theaters. Can’t wait. It’ll be like Armageddon/Deep Impact but with a powerful message about the natural limitations of mankind’s curiosity.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? There’s a lot of concern about what seems like a constant stream of remakes and re-imaginings, and while there are several excellent remakes to point to, I thought it would be interesting to look at the first version of something. Hailing from 102 years ago, this was the first motion picture version of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” a novel that has been made into so many films, that it’s difficult to think of any new versions as being “a remake.” Of course, it’s doubly fascinating that this film, directed by J. Searle Dawley, was made at Thomas Edison‘s film studio. Regardless of that bit of trivia, it’s an interesting historical artifact. What will it cost you? Only 12 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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Thanks to Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events, four classic films from Paramount will have a revival on big screens this fall. According to Aint It Cool, the roster includes The Birds, Frankenstein (paired brilliantly with Bride of Frankenstein) and To Kill a Mockingbird. Alfred Hitchcock’s flying creature feature hits on September 19th, the Boris Karloff-starring horror double play is on October 24th (awesome), and Robert Mulligan’s thoughtful take on Harper Lee’s Americana novel comes November 15th. Each will start at 7pm local time, but you’ll have to check local theater listings to see if they’re carrying the films. It looks like Universal’s 100th birthday has been one big present to us. This new trend of re-releasing classics is definitely one to celebrate.  

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Universal Monsters Blu-ray

Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera, The Mummy and The Creature From The Black Lagoon are finally all together on Blu-ray. Universal will be releasing a massively awesome set called “Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection” on October 5th, and there are a ridiculous amount of extra features in addition to the horror flicks. Production photos, behind-the-scenes stuff, trailers, tributes to Jack Pierce and Lon Chaney, Jr. That’s the tip of the horror iceberg (which is also the name of the script I just finished. Call me, Asylum). The movies have been together on DVD before with a decent collection of features, but this Blu-ray collection seems absolutely stunning. A big upgrade for true classics. Plus, there are books involved! Everyone loves reading. The big question is…at a pre-sale price of $112, is this a necessary upgrade or a dreamy luxury?  

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Science fiction has long been considered by some experts to be a lesser genre than traditional dramas and character studies. Because it lends itself so easily to exploitation, science fiction isn’t always given the respect it deserves. Sure, it tends to be a box office winner, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the all-time domestic grossing films fit easily in that genre (with at least two more – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Shrek 2 – marginally related as genre films). Still, some still consider science fiction something not to be taken seriously. It is for this reason that “legitimate” film directors might shy away from science fiction in lieu of more important or significant projects. However, many directors got their start or their earliest fame from working in science fiction and other allegedly exploitative and pulp genres. This week’s release of Prometheus reminds us that even though Ridley Scott has directed historical epics (Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), military action films (Black Hawk Down), crime thrillers (American Gangster) and straight dramas (Thelma & Louise), he got his start in science fiction with Alien and Blade Runner. Scott isn’t the only director to begin a successful career in science fiction. Here are seven other directors who started out or received some of their earliest success in this genre.

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Mondo

Tomorrow will see the grand opening of Mondo’s new gallery space in Austin, Texas. Mondo, the art boutique offshoot of the Alamo Drafthouse, has been creating t-shirts, posters, and other movie-related items for several years now. In light of the new gallery opening, it seems as good a time as any to take a look back over their illustrious career. Many current poster hounds may not realize that the Mondo legacy goes back as far as it does, but old school fans will remember the phone booth-sized storefront Mondo enjoyed at the original Alamo Drafthouse on Colorado. No bigger than a postage stamp, the Mondo room was packed to the gills with t-shirts and posters. Mondo recently put up an online archive of all of their prints dating back to 1998, which frankly made this article much easier to put together. But it also serves as a window into their fantastic past, showcasing many prints you probably missed and will now furiously try to track down. Speaking of tracking down prints, here’s the top 13 on our radar.

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While Tim Burton’s recent live-action films have still been raking in gobs of cash, they’ve also taken a bit of a downturn in quality that have left longtime Burton fans feeling a bit cold. Affection for his stop-motion animation efforts seem to still be ever-present and warm, however, so this new trailer for Burton’s Frankenweenie should play as a fun, bow-wrapped surprise to a lot of people. Check it out after the break, you might just be in for a pleasant shock.

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Universal Pictures will turn a century old on April 30, and in advance of their 100th birthday, the studio has trotted out a new (shiny!) logo that touts their triple-digit age. Why they didn’t get Willard Scott to do one of those Smuckers Jam birthday label shout-out things on The Today Show, I simply don’t know, but there’s still time! Of course, that new logo is neat and all (and, again, shiny!), but what’s most exciting about this news is the studio’s announcement that they will also celebrate their centennial with the restoration of thirteen of its most famous films. THR reports that the studio has restored All Quiet on the Western Front, The Birds, Abbott and Costello’s Buck Privates, Dracula (1931), the Spanish-language Dracula (which was filmed on the same set at night), Frankenstein, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Out of Africa, Pillow Talk, Bride of Frankenstein, The Sting, and To Kill a Mockingbird. The studio plans to release the restorations throughout 2012. Many of the restorations will be sold in “collectible book style packaging with memorabilia.” Moreover, Universal is reportedly quite happy with the work on previously damaged films, particularly when it comes to crisper sound in Frankenstein and “appalling graininess” in To Kill a Mockingbird. Also, fans of Out of Africa can breathe a sigh of relief – as “Meryl Streep loses a weird wobble in her walk possibly caused by projectors that enlarged the sprocket holes.” I wish it was Universal’s 100th birthday every day!

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Back in 1985, releasing a family film that was directed by Superman’s Richard Donner and had Steven Spielberg’s name plastered all over it as a writer and producer was pretty much the antithesis of a risky proposition. At this point in the mid 80s Spielberg and his crew of cohorts were at the height of their powers, churning out family friendly blockbusters one after another. So The Goonies never really had an uphill battle to climb. It was probably always going to be a success. The way that it took the ball and has continued to run with it, even twenty-six years later, is a little astounding though. This is a huge movie. If ever someone admits to not having seen it, they instantly get hit with an incredulous, “WHAT? YOU HAVEN’T SEEN GOONIES?” It’s almost to the point where the DVD gets sent to suburbanites in the mail with Peter Frampton records and samples of Tide. On the other end of the spectrum, The Monster Squad is a total cult movie. While it’s loved passionately by a small group of geeks, a normal person would have to very randomly stumble across something deep within the heart of the Internet to ever realize that this movie even exists. There aren’t any college frat boys wearing out their copy of Monster Squad like they are their copies of Goonies. There isn’t a new generation of young kids catching on to Fat Kid and Frankenstein the way they are Chunk and Sloth. […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly celebration of what’s happening in the world of entertainment. It also usually manages to get in a few zingers. We begin tonight with an image of Wei Tang, an actress you may recognize as the gal who had a lot of sex with Tony Leung in that Ang Lee movie, Lust, Caution. She’s also a talented actress. Which is why she’s on the shortlist of actresses who could play the Asian Bond girl role in Bond 23, which is now rumored to be partially shooting in China.

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Like any great film festival, Fantastic Fest draws attendees for a number of reasons. Some come for the discovery of genre films from around the world, others come for that famous Alamo Drafthouse experience, but some — probably more than you’d think — also come for the art. The advantage of Fantastic Fest comes with the inclusion of Mondo, Alamo’s boutique poster and t-shirt sales machine. Purveyors of prints that geeks the world over would give life and limb to see hung on their collective walls, Mondo has always been a bastion of what is cool in the world of nerd wall-dressings. And for Fantastic Fest 2011, they are taking things to the next level. Names like Olly Moss, Drew Struzan, Jock and Ken Taylor have contributed art to a line-up that will make you drool. Then, unless you’re here in Austin this week, it’s going to make you angry. Because you can only buy them on-site at Mondo. That said, lets take a look at this year’s line-up.

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Look, Shawn Levy directed Night at the Museum. He’s a busy guy and he doesn’t have time to be jerked around. That’s why two movie news stories that have come out recently have it looking like he could be done with the long gestating but still not accomplished Fantastic Voyage remake that James Cameron’s company is producing along with Fox. THR recently reported that there is a sticking point between Levy and the producers, where he believes that the film needs an A-list actor to star and he doesn’t want to go forward without getting one signed. For their part, the producers seem less concerned and just want to make the material. Apparently Levy has had recent meetings with Will Smith and if Smith bites the hook and agrees to make the movie it could still be on, but if not, Levy is likely to leave for other projects. Enter a report from Deadline Andermatt that Fox also has a Frankenstein project brewing, with a script written by John Landis’s son Max, that they want to rush into production. Why do they want to rush it into production? Because pretty much everybody has a project in the works about Frankenstein coming to life and beating people to death with his big cold meat paws, so they want to be at the front of the pack when they start hitting theaters. Apparently they want Levy to helm the thing, so if Cameron and crew don’t want to lose him to a […]

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Move over Snow White: there’s another literary character on the block looking to get a million film projects made about his trials and tribulations, and his name is Victor Frankenstein. It was just earlier today when we reported (with a surprisingly similar headline) on an adaptation of a Frankenstein-themed novel being put together by Sam Raimi, and now there’s more news about another being made by Summit Entertainment. This Dark Endeavor will be an adaptation of a Kenneth Oppel novel that is fully titled “This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein.” While Raimi’s project explores the friendship between Frankenstein and Percy Bysshe Shelley, Summit’s story is about Frankenstein trying to save the life of his twin brother. In order to do so he must find an old alchemist, hang out with his brother’s main squeeze, and go on a dangerous journey to find the components for the Elixir of Life. There promises to be action, adventure, and a love triangle. Not bad for a book about a doctor. The best news about this project is that Let Me In director Matt Reeves has signed on to direct. When I first heard that Hollywood was remaking Let the Right One In, I spent about ten minutes puking in a trashcan, but Reeves actually did a really good job with it. I went into that film feeling a strong bias against its very existence and came out thinking that it had matched the original in many ways and even surpassed it […]

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Although our Vintage Trailer of the Day from a few days ago might have something to say about it, Deadline Bay Town is reporting that Matt Tolmach, the former co-President of Sony, is making lightning strike there again as the producer of a contemporary version of Frankenstein. This isn’t the first project to tackle the subject again. Universal had teased a Bride of Frankenstein remake back in 2009, Guillermo del Toro excited fans by attempting to cast Doug Jones for his own version, and no one who’s seen it can forget Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl. The term “contemporary” can be more frightening than the patchwork monster himself, but Sony has pulled it off before with Wolf. Their new endeavor with Frankenstein might prove more difficult, though, especially when they find success and have to resurrect Abbot and Costello.

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Hot off success with The Brood, the shocking director has chosen psychic horror for his next. But what does that mean for Frankenstein?

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