Maniac

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Boo. Now turn off the lights, pull your feet in under the covers, and keep reading for a look at our choices for the Best Horror Movies of 2013.

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discs see you tomorrow everybody

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. See You Tomorrow Everyone (UK) Satoru Watarai (Gaku Hamada) graduates from primary school with only one certainty. He plans on never leaving the “projects” where he lives. The gated community of apartment complexes also features stores, restaurants, recreation areas and more, and Satoru sees no reason to leave. As the years pass by he watches as his friends move away, he loses the love of his life, and he begins to question his physical inability to set foot outside the projects. Director Yoshihiro Nakamura is no stranger to ridiculously good cinema, and anyone who’s seen Fish Story, Golden Slumber, or A Boy & His Samurai knows that he mixes entertainment and emotion in wonderfully rare ways. His latest lacks a fantastical element or song-related hook, and instead focuses on the presumably stunted life of one man affected by a singular traumatic moment. The first half plays like a loosely melancholy comedy before a shift sets in to up the emotional stakes dramatically, and the result is an incredibly affecting look at the intersection of fate and the life we make of our own will. [Region 2 DVD extras: Introduction, interview, trailer]

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10 You May Have Missed 2013

The middle of the year brings a lot of things, but we can probably all agree that the most important of those things are lists. With that in mind, Landon Palmer and I set out to highlight ten of our favorite films of the past six months, but instead of being a straight forward list of the year’s best movies so far we chose to zero in on the great, smaller movies that may have bypassed your radar as they slipped in and out of just a handful of theaters. This factor is most obvious in the absence of Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor from Landon’s selections. The films we’ve chosen run the gamut of genres and countries of origin, but they share a sense of quality sadly missing from the majority of Hollywood films opening wide in theaters these days. (Although if you have to see a wannabe blockbuster choose Roland Emmerich’s White House Down… the damn thing is dumb as dirt but sweet Jesus is it fun.) You may have heard of some of the films below, but all of them are worth seeking out at your local arthouse or VOD provider of choice.

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review maniac

Editor’s Note: Our review of Maniac originally ran as part of this year’s inaugural Stanley Film Fest coverage, but we’re re-running it now as the opens in limited theatrical release and premieres on VOD starting June 21st. Frank (Elijah Wood) is a lonely small business owner looking for love in all the wrong places. Sure, he meets a few girls through online dating services, but none of them work out beyond the first date. Though to be fair to the women, the evenings only go sour around the point Frank decides to scalp them for not living up to his dead mother’s high standards. His life gets a jolt and a singular chance at happiness when a photographer named Anna (Nora Arnezeder) stops by his mannequin restoration shop and asks a favor. The two develop a friendship, perhaps the first Frank has known is his life, and he begins to fall for her. It’s the closest thing to real love he’s ever felt and she’s the closest to redemption that he’ll ever get. But happiness just isn’t in the cards for Frank, and the pull of the knife begins again. This is Maniac, and not only is it one of the best serial killer films in years, but it’s also one of the most beautiful, creative and affecting ones, too.

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Elijah Wood really defies all Hollywood expectations. After making a graceful transition from child stardom, he became a pop culture icon as Frodo in The Lord of the Rings movies while balancing out all that box office mojo with equally great performances in smaller, more personal films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Everything Is Illuminated. He’s also now in his third season as the suicidal Ryan the darkly comic Wilfred, returning this week on F/X. Wood takes his talents to more sinister depths in Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac (inspired by the 1980 film of the same name), in which he plays Frank, an isolated young man who restores antique mannequins in an industrial area of Los Angeles and freelances as a serial killer with a fetish for scalping his female victims. His murderous ways are spurred by an unhealthy relationship with his mother who exposed Frank to things as a child that he probably shouldn’t have seen. His dangerous dynamic with women gets a bit more complicated when he meets Anna (Nora Arnezeder), a beautiful artist who wants to use Frank’s mannequins in one of her installations. Frank develops true feelings for Anna, and these feelings are constantly at war with his deep-seeded urges to kill. Generic plot synopsis aside, Maniac is hardly a run-of-the-mill horror film. Filmed almost entirely through Frank’s POV, the film truly gets inside the mind of a serial killer to the point where you are forced to empathize with him despite his horrific actions. […]

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maniac-image

We’ve been hearing about director Franck Khalfoun’s remake of Maniac for quite a while now. Heck, it was a full year ago when its first red band trailer was released and we got to see our first glimpse of Elijah Wood playing a psycho mannequin shop owner who stalks women and cuts them up. One thing we haven’t gotten to see though, at least here in the United States, is the entire movie. That’s about to change, because the film is finally set to roll out a limited theatrical release here in the US starting on June 21, and IFC Films has decided to release a brand new poster and trailer combo [originally via Apple] in order to mark the occasion. Click through to check out the studio’s last ditch efforts at enticing you to pay money to watch Frodo getting creepy.

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The first incarnation of any big event is bound to experience a few hiccups, but having recently returned from the inaugural Stanley Film Fest in Estes Park, Colorado, I feel confident in reporting that the biggest issue I encountered was slow service at the Sunday morning horror-themed brunch. It wouldn’t have been a problem, but these were Carrie pancakes I was waiting on complete with a bucket of red berry syrup! I ultimately had to leave before my food arrived, but the reason why was the same reason I was at the fest in the first place. I was there to see movies. This first year saw 24 feature films play, and while that may not sound like a lot, it was more than enough to fill up a single-weekend festival. I only managed to see eleven over the three days, and the titles available ranged from well-regarded horror films from years past, including All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Cabin Fever and even The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari accompanied by live music to new releases like Maniac, Beneath and The Purge. But this fest had another ace up its sleeve in addition to the films. Location, location, location!

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Maniac Header

The lethargy inherent in being in between two of the biggest holidays of the year has made this week kind of a dead zone for movie news, but a couple of studios have still been throwing us bones by delivering extended previews of what they’ve got coming up in the next year. Just yesterday we were treated to the first four minutes of zombie comedy Warm Bodies, and today Warner Bros. is upping the ante by bringing us the first six minutes of their upcoming Maniac remake. Six minutes! That’s two more than yesterday. At this rate, tomorrow we may get to see the first eight minutes of something. And then, eventually, entire movies will get released without us having to pay for them at all. What a world.

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Zero Dark Thirty

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movies that is comin’ at ya, like an adrenaline-crazed bike messenger doing 50 down Broadway… We begin this evening with a new image from Zero Dark Thirty featuring some rough and tumble types who are about to go in and take down that Bin Laden guy. This Kathryn Bigelow directed ditty is going to be one hell of a ride, if any of her previous works are any indication.

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About a week ago a teaser trailer leaked to the net for Franck Khalfoun’s remake of the William Lustig horror film, Maniac. It gave us a glimpse of a knife-wielding, psychotic Elijah Wood, but wasn’t quite ready for consumption and got pulled down before everyone could see it. Well now the powers that be have deemed it permissible for the public to take a look at the film, and Twitch has gotten their hands on a new cut of the trailer; which is full-length, very red band, and very not safe for work.

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William Lustig’s original 1980 Maniac was of the highest, grainy midnight movie caliber. Perhaps it’s not sacred ground, but it’s a grisly example of an artifact from when terrifying and exploitative slashers were hacking their way onto big screens. It makes sense that there’s so much speculation surrounding Franck Khalfoun‘s remake starring Elijah Wood as a man with mommy issues trying to make the perfect woman. Now thanks to Cannes, there’s a teaser trailer to inform us all on the style. Is it gritty? Sort of. It’s the kind of gritty that you might take to a gallery opening or to an experimental ballet. Those exist right? It’s a little grit with gloss all over it. It will probably make you take a shower afterward, but the POV shots especially make this look like it came out of an NYU Film School grad’s portfolio. Check it out for yourself:

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What is Movie News After Dark? Well, it ain’t like dusting crops, boy. Our fearless leader, Neil Miller is taking the night off and has left you in my very incapable hands. And thus we spring forth to the internet to see what new bounty of cinematic gifts that unfaithful mistress doth offer up to we lowly cinephiles. Or something like that. We begin, boys and girls, with Paul Thomas Anderson. For my money, he’s easily one of it not the very finest directors working today with apologies to Christopher Nolan. There Will Be Blood was quite frankly a masterpiece and my expectations are high for his next film, The Master. The folks over at Cigarettes and Red Vines got a nice exclusive today from the man himself, revealing a few behind the scenes photos of old fashioned negative cutting going on. Not only is this new PT Anderson film shooting on glorious celluloid but this particular negative was of the much higher quality 65mm variety. Word has it that the film will be comprised of both 35mm and 65mm elements, though the question remaining is will the distributor be willing to strike a 70mm print. Exhibition options for 70mm are scarce, but Oscilloscope Labs appears to be striking a 70mm print for Baraka follow-up Samsara. It appears the Weinstein’s are in charge of theatrical distro for The Master, hopefully they’ll have the courage to pony up for a 70mm print

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How’d you like to be killed by Elijah Wood? You would have never seen it coming. For one, he’s one of the nicer guys on the planet. For two, we already saw how sneaky a murderer he can be in Sin City. He’ll most likely be a bit louder, ripping blood out of its veiny home in Franck Khalfoun‘s Maniac remake, though. Apparently, he’s also going to be slicing open mannequin heads. Just as everyone hoped he would. And co-star Nora Arnezeder will horrifyingly talk on a cell phone! Check out these first images from the production:

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Alexander Aja continues his work with remakes as the producer of a forthcoming remake of William Lustig‘s brilliant Maniac – whose ultra-violence caused Gene Siskel to famously storm out of the theater and rail against it on his show with Roger Ebert. The movie will be directed by Franck Khalfoun – a talent who delivered the parking garage stalker flick P2 and who has an extra C in his first name. News of a remake, especially something as grisly and revered as this movie, needs some sort of sugar to help the medicine go down. The sugar this time is Elijah Wood – a giant spoonful of happy feet who will be stepping well outside his wheelhouse to play the serial killer. Say what you will about his role in Sin City, but that was not the blood-soaked mayhem and confusion that this murdering character demands. They are as different as the black and white Wood was painted with as Kevin, the silent cannibal. Also, in a strange turn of rumored events, Badass Digest is reporting that unnamed sources are claiming the movie (or at least its kills) will be shot POV. It’s an interesting, if unoriginal, idea, and it could very well work beautifully. The only real concern is when the camera will cut away (if it’s just the kills in POV), because so much of Maniac was brought to life by Joe Spinell‘s performance. He killed without mercy or understanding, and him staring on at his own work […]

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Join us each week as Rob Hunter takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs. And remember, these listings and category placements are meant as informational conversation starters only. But you can still tell Hunter how wrong he is in the comment section below. This week sees more Buy recommendations than we’ve ever had before! (I think.) And they include an ass-kicking serial killer flick from South Korea (The Chaser), a John Carpenter classic (Dark Star), and the brilliant new Back To the Future trilogy release. Others worth Renting or Avoiding include The Girl Who Played With Fire, Altitude, Winter’s Bone, Lake Placid 3, and more.

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