H.P. Lovecraft

Biopics are a little like the savings bonds of the movie world. They’re dependable and usually low-risk; for every Diana or Amelia or Jobs, you’re sure to find dozens of true-life stories making reasonable returns on their investment. The biopic is both a sturdy workhorse and an easy road to prestige, attracting the highest and mightiest of the film world while still maintaining the “people have heard of this before, probably” branding appeal of an action figure action movie. So naturally, biopics are everywhere, choking our rivers and breeding like rats. And while they might vary a little bit from genre to genre — The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave and Saving Mr. Banks would certainly appear on different shelves in some mythical, non-demolished Blockbuster Video- they’re all burdened down by one gigantic common factor: The Truth. How is it that biopics still haven’t started playing fast and loose with the real-life events they’re based around? I’m not talking about a few fudged details here and there, like when Lincoln tweaked a few 13th amendment votes or when We Bought a Zoo shamefully moved its titular zoo from England to the United States. What hasn’t really happened yet is the biopic that takes a well-known historical figure and places him or her into a situation that’s clearly meant to be fictional. Sadly, the only real example thus far is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and the less said about that particular filmmaking venture, the better. But now the “fake […]

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All throughout October, we’ll be hearing from horror filmmakers about their favorite scary movies. We’ve already heard from Joe Dante on The Exorcist, so we turn now to a newcomer on the horror scene. C. Robert Cargill (who some may know as Massawyrm from years of writing at Aint It Cool) is the co-writer of Sinister, which hits theaters tomorrow (10/12). In his film, Ethan Hawke plays a true crime novelist, so is it any wonder that Cargill has chosen to celebrate a horror flick with a writer at its giant, monstrous heart? You can go watch it right now online, or you can join us for a discussion of the last great John Carpenter film and best H.P. Lovecraft movie that isn’t based on anything Lovecraft wrote. Download Episode #152

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Drinking Games

It might not be October yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start gearing up for some horror movies. One of the legendary gorefests from the 1980s is hitting Blu-ray this week: Stuart Gordon’s tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, Re-Animator. While it didn’t redefine zombie movies, partly because Gordon was paying homage to Frankenstein more than he was the standard walking dead film, Re-Animator was a financial success in limited run theaters and helped launch the career of Jeffrey Combs. It also showed us one of the many uses of glow stick fluid. New on Blu-ray, it’s time to give this film another watch in high definition.

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For newbies to the column, I’m recalling defining moments that made me what I am: A Special Effects Make Up Artist looking for relevance in the 21st Century. The time is 1985, and I have finished a tour of duty for Stan Winston’s Studio. I am 23 years old. Freelance. Footloose and fancy-free. Unemployed again. I had tasted of the good life and knew that, somehow, I needed to return to Stan Winston Studios. It was everything I imagined working in a Hollywood special make-up effects studio would be and more. It certainly was first class all of the way but at the moment, it was irrelevant. Alec Gillis and Rick Lazzarini had left and joined Stan and the rest of the crew in England to continue work on Aliens. I, on the other hand, needed to find work. Toward the end of Invaders from Mars, a rumor began circulating that Rick Baker was putting together a crew to build a Sasquatch suit for a film entitled Harry and the Hendersons. Now, regardless of what others may or may not think, I knew that my work was below the established standard of excellence at Rick’s studio. This was confirmed when I interviewed with him and I wasn’t hired.

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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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Culture Warrior

Somewhere hidden away in the mid-1990s, there’s a young man reading a “Star Log” in his bedroom foaming at the mouth at the words on the glossy magazine page. There they are. The words “Watchmen” and “Terry Gilliam” right next to each other like a pair of star cross’d lovers finally exchanging vows. The iconic comic books that he grew up reading are finally going to be seen on the living, breathing, bloody brilliant big screen. Then it doesn’t happen. There are a lot of reasons why it doesn’t happen (too many to dive into right now), but that young man is eternally disappointed when those words he once reveled in start to fade away. With the announcement that Universal has passed on Guillermo Del Toro’s At The Mountains of Madness, a lot of fans might be finding themselves in a similar position, and it’s not just Lovecraft devotees. It’s movie fans of all stripes who see this as another defeat of the auteur in service of the bottom line. Is it Universal’s fault? Sure. Much in the same way that everyone shares a little blame. It does, however, shine its silver lining as a spotlight on the disease of the studio system that’s been picked at and mulled over and puzzled for the past few years. Luckily, it also exposes the solution: Failure.

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It’s all happening. The best working director for the job of tackling a Lovecraft novel is going to roll cameras in June, meaning that At the Mountains of Madness could be in theaters as early as Winter 2012. Tom Cruise will be starring – which raises an eyebrow – but fans of the novel know that there’s an opportunity here to deliver Cruise at his Nic Cage-y best. Ron Perlman, who is contractually obligated to be in all geek properties of this kind, will be involved as well. According to io9, everything is set to go. Fingers are crossed now, and hopefully we’ll be getting some concept art soon. This is when it gets exciting. There’s no mention of how this will affect The Hobbit, which is shooting currently, but I can’t imagine they’d schedule this if it even budged the trip to Middle Earth by a single day. At the most, it sounds like Guillermo Del Toro will go directly from one to the other. Besides, I hear the Antarctic is wonderful in the summer.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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