John Dies at the End

IntroMovieMonsters

CGI is okay, but there’s really nothing quite like sticking some poor actor in a costume and making them walk around. It’s the foundation of monster films, and something we get to see less and less of these days. Ironically enough, as costumed monsters get sparser with modern techniques, they also became way cooler thanks to those very same advances. Check out some of the most unique ones since 2000 – costumes that remind us why we love monster movies.

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discs john dies

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. John Dies at the End David and John are college dropouts with no direction in their lives, but thanks to some very special soy sauce (that isn’t really soy sauce) they’re also the only ones standing between our world and the monstrous denizens of another dimension. You don’t need to know any more plot synopsis than that. (Especially since you already know how it ends…) The only bad thing about this release is the cover art. Director Don Coscarelli has always had a comedic side, but it’s only over his last few films that he’s really brought it to the forefront of his work. His latest finds the sweet spot that manages to be both very funny and incredibly creative on the horror side. Seriously, there is some crazy stuff here. Rush out and buy this one so Coscarelli can get moving on adapting David Wong’s sequel, “This Book Is Full Of Spiders.” Granted, he’ll probably have to change the title. [Blu-ray extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, making of, featurettes]

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Editor’s note: John Dies At The End is now playing in limited theatrical release, so let’s flash back exactly one year to look at Allison’s Sundance review, originally published on January 26, 2012. We all know what it means to be sauced, but John Dies At The End shows audiences what it means to be “on the sauce” – soy sauce that is, a hallucinogenic drug that not only messes with your mind, it messes with how you perceive time. This idea could be fun, but when you know one of your best friends meets his demise somewhere in that disjointed timeline (no spoilers there, as it’s revealed in the film’s title) this time manipulation becomes both stressful and confusing. While at a party, Dave (Chase Williamson) gets into a conversation with a reggae “magician” (Tai Bennett) who Dave doesn’t believe can do real magic. But when Robert Marley (the magician’s name, of course) is able to recount, in vivid detail, a dream Dave had the night before, he gets Dave’s attention. Later that night Dave gets a call from his best friend, a panicked and confused-sounding John (Rob Mayes), who thinks he has called Dave a bunch of times already that night and needs him to come over right away.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s exactly what it says it is… movie news, after dark. Here is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie – This great expose from the New York Times Magazine exposes the world of Lindsay Lohan, Bret Eastin Ellis and The Canyons. Poor, poor Paul Schrader.

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Gangster Squad Reshoots

2012 is over. Gone forever. Never coming back. Based on our staff picks for the best features of 2012, it was far from a bad year. We had all kinds of good-to-great films, and we’d be lucky to have another year like it. Considering what we’ll see this year, 2013 could match 2012, as we’re getting movies from Martin Scorsese, Danny Boyle, Sofia Coppola, Edgar Wright, Jonathan Glazer, Steven Soderbergh, Park Chan Wook, and, most exciting of all, Adam McKay. Plenty of pictures to get excited over this year, and, to the start the year off, we have about 5 to build some anticipation over. Here they are:

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Kicking off this week with its Opening Night Gala for Hitchcock, Hollywood’s own AFI FEST effectively wraps up the year’s film festival-going season (a season that lasts approximately eleven months). Such calendar placement means that AFI FEST comes late enough in the year to serve as a last hurrah for titles that have been playing the festival circuit as far back as January (at Sundance) or as far away as France, Berlin, and Venice, and is the perfect opportunity for Southern California-based film geeks (or those willing to put some miles on their passport) to catch up on films they’ve been anticipating for months. Of course, of the 136 films playing at this year’s festival, we’ve managed to catch nearly a fifth of them at other fests, and we’re quite pleased to use this opportunity to remind you as such. Confused over what to see at the festival? Be confused no more! After the break, jog your memories of our always-extensive festival coverage with reviews for twenty-eight films set to play at this week’s AFI FEST that we’ve already seen (and, you know, reviewed). It’s like getting your festival coverage whole days early!

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John Dies at the End

If you watch the new trailer for co-writer/director Don Coscarelli’s (Bubba Ho-Tep) latest film, John Dies at the End, you’ll probably be left with some questions. Why are those pills that can grow wings called “soy sauce?” Can taking them really make you jump to different dimensions? Is the main character talking into a Polish sausage like it’s a cell phone? Don’t let all of these questions left hanging in the air worry you—a lot of them don’t even get answered after you watch this crazy film in its entirety—just focus in on the fact that Coscarelli has taken David Wong’s crazy novel of the same name and made a crazy movie out of it, and the results are crazy hilarious.

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Behind the Hollywood Sign

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the nightly movie news column that cares… We begin this evening with an image from “Behind the Hollywood Sign,” a photo project from photographer Ted VanCleave that takes you up close and personal with Hollywood’s mountain-top moniker. It’s a gorgeous set of photos by any standard, and a great look at one of the iconic markers of the film industry.

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Paul Giamatti in Cosmopolis

Cosmopolis fits quite nicely in actor Paul Giamatti‘s wheelhouse. Like the over-the-top Shoot’Em Up, the ridiculously bloody Ironclad, and this year’s John Dies at the End, Giamatti is more than willing to jump into a world with no ceiling. Or, as Giamatti and the British say, to get “wet.” Wet is certainly what Giamatti gets in director David Cronenberg‘s Cosmopolis. Rarely does Giamatti speak a line which isn’t abstract or approaching any level of sanity in the film. Key point: Giamatti’s character’s towel and fungus. In the film, a sweaty and disgruntled Giamatti emotionally clings onto a dirty towel and speaks of a fungus between his toes urging him to kill. Countless interpretations could be applied to their actual meaning, but, clearly, Giamatti has his own explanations, explanations that even the actor wouldn’t fully discuss. Here’s what actor Paul Giamatti had to say about working with David Cronenberg, the film’s straight-faced wackiness, and why he won’t tell you what the towel means:

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Even with its relatively limited resources, John Dies at the End creates a bigger and more involving world than most films with over 20 times its budget. This is one crazy world filled with even crazier characters. Writer/director Don Coscarelli‘s adaptation isn’t a lick afraid of silliness, and that is John Dies at the End‘s key charm. To describe everything that goes down in John Dies at the End would be a massive and confusing chore. In short: there’s a lot. From alternate universes to a meat monster, it’s got plenty going on. The two leads, young and good-looking twenty somethings Dave (Chase Williamson) and his buddy John (Rob Mayes), take a drug known on the streests as “soy sauce,” and it’s the kind of drug that opens one’s eyes in ways unimaginable. The pair get into some oddball situations, involving the likes of Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown.

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Spend enough time on the festival circuit and certain films just keep coming back around – but fortunately, they’re usually good ones we’re happy to see again. As the first big film festival of the year, Sundance often features some of the best independent films that people like us Rejects will be jawing about for months to come. SXSW offers the chance for cinephiles to catch a bevy of films that other people have been carrying on about for weeks and weeks, thanks to both their regular programming and their ever-clever Festival Favorites section, which is packed with (you can probably guess) films that have played recently at other festivals that the SXSW crowd will eat right up. After the break, get reacquainted with ten films we saw, reviewed, and (in some cases) loved back in January in snowy Park City, Utah. All ten are playing at this month’s (let’s be real, this week’s) SXSW Film Festival in Austin, our very own hometown film fest. Luckily enough, some of our favorite Sundance films pop on this list, including one I enjoyed so much that I am going to see it again in Austin.

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It is day four of the festival (although it feels like we’ve been here much longer) and I realized this morning as I sleepily boarded the shuttle that since I have only been going to P&I (press and industry i.e., you don’t need a hard ticket but you do need credentials) screenings, I have only been to the Holiday and none of the other venues. That will change tomorrow morning when I finally hit up Eccles (one of my favorite theaters here), but it was strange to realize I haven’t really been outside the Holiday, Yarrow, Sundance HQ radius the past few days. (This may also explain why things are starting to blend together for me.) Averaging about five hours of sleep a night (better than last year’s two!) and one real meal a day, I try to make that one meal count. Today I (along with almost every other critic and blogger here at the fest) hit up Flippin’ Burgers, which not only has amazing burgers, fries and shakes, but also free WiFi and plays a constant loop of terribly hilarious songs and yes, Enrique Iglesias’ “Baby I Like It” has been stuck in my head all afternoon. Hopefully this place sticks around for another year (although, rumor has it that it’s been around and we just now discovered it) so if you make it to Sundance next year, add it to your list of places to check out. Granted, you have to Frogger your way across the street […]

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The annual week I spend in sleepy Park City, Utah, carousing with the rest of the online film criticism glitterati, eating criminally overpriced pizza, barely sleeping, and consistently worrying about early on-set frostbite is my favorite week of the year. Not just for the pals, the pizza, and the sleep deprivation, but for (shockingly!) the movies. I’ve been lucky enough to see some truly great stuff at Sundance over the past two years – The Freebie, Winter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Take Shelter all come to mind quite quickly, particularly because those films all stuck with me long enough to make it on to my top ten lists for their respective years. That’s staying power, and that’s the power of Sundance – seeing films in January that stay top-of-mind (and top-of-top-ten-list) for eleven months (and beyond). So which films from this year’s Sundance will prove to be long-range winners? While I can certainly make some very educated guesses, there’s no way to know for sure until my eyeballs meet Park City’s theater screens. That said, it’s probably safe to assume my ultimate favorite is somewhere on the following list of my ten most anticipated films for this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

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Sundance is many things – cold temperatures, snow, memorizing the shuttle schedule, training your body to take two hour “naps” each night, Simon Baker stopping your delirious self from walking into on-coming traffic on Main Street (a true, and embarrassing, story), but most importantly – it’s about movies. The Sundance Film Festival is the first big film festival of the year and as such, it never fails to set the bar high with standout programming from premiere features to moving documentaries to midnight scare-a-thons. With an impressive (and at times overwhelming) slate of films to choose from, I narrowed down the films that seem to be getting the most buzz already and are popping up on people’s “must-see” lists. Of course there will probably be a film or two here that do not live up to expectations while there is also a good chance that I have left something out that will end up being a standout at this year’s festival, but it is that unpredictability that’s part of the fun. Stay tuned to FSR as Kate Erbland and I head to Park City this weekend to take in as many of these titles as we can and report back on whether they live up to the hype and what should stay on your must-see lists as these films (fingers crossed) get picked up for distribution over the next eleven days. A mix of features and documentaries, comedies and horror, this list features both actors and filmmakers returning to Sundance and […]

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With the 2012 Sundance Film Festival kicking off in, oh my, God, is that right? just one month, it’s time that the fest announce its straggler titles – four more picks joining the already-phenomenal line-up of films that, for whatever reason, weren’t quite ready to be announced when the listing of 117 other feature-length films were released. These four titles join three different sections – there’s one Premiere, two Spotlights (films that have shown at other festivals that the Sundance crew can’t help but share come January), and one Park City at Midnight title. At least one of these films made me stand up and cheer upon reading of its addition. I won’t tease you – it’s John Dies at the End. Don Coscarelli‘s take on David Wong‘s novel will have its World Premiere at the festival, and I cannot even remotely wait. Also joining the fest? Philip Dorling and Ron Nyswaner‘s Predisposed, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Melissa Leo, and Tracy Morgan, along with the North American premiere of Sean Penn fright wig drama This Must Be the Place and Norway’s own Oslo, August 31st. Check out the full listing details of all four additions after the break.

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