Solomon Kane

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Kidnapped Four men weighed down with stolen loot try to make their escape, but when one of their own is gunned down the remaining three take hostages in their bid for freedom. They end up in a car with a woman, a man, and the man’s son as they force the hostages to drive them out of the city. As the hours tick by the tension builds as to what will happen and who will survive the getaway. Director Mario Bava took a break from his usual horrific fare to make this tight and somewhat claustrophobic thriller, and the result is one of his most entertaining films. Much of the movie is a fairly traditional setup that puts in place certain expectations, but Bava and writer Alessandro Parenzo are far more interested in subversion and true suspense than they are in fulfilling cliches. The ending alone makes this one worth seeing, and the film itself is a nearly lost gem worth owning. It also doesn’t hurt that Kino Classics’ Blu-ray transfer is absolutely stunning. [Blu-ray extras: Trailers]

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Pacific Rim

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movie news that wasn’t exactly nightly this week, so it’s giving you a Friday edition with a little extra umph… We begin this evening with one of four new images from Pacific Rim, courtesy of the most recent edition of Empire magazine. It features Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and those sweet, shiny suits worn by the drivers of the giant-ass robots in Guillermo del Toro’s exciting next film. Now, when are we going to get a shot at those robots in action?

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In an alternate universe, Solomon Kane would have been in theaters instead of the atrocious mess that was Season of the Witch. In another alternate universe, it would have been in theaters instead of Conan. Instead, this excellent, dark adventure from director Michael J. Bassett has hung around ever since Fantastic Fest 2009 for unknown reasons – none of which had to do with quality. Up until now, it’s only been available on import DVD, but with Bassett directing the forthcoming Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, there’s renewed interest in seeing his take on the famous Robert E. Howard character on the big screen. The trailer is a nice taste of the dirt and blood involved, as well as the stellar performance from James Purefoy. Grab a torch and check it out for yourself:

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With DJ Caruso directing Preacher, it becomes the second cult western literary adaptation to be taken on by an averagely talented, workhorse director (although Caruso doesn’t even come close to Ron Howard’s league). This might be the natural evolution of “geek” properties being co-opted by Hollywood. A decade ago, it was Sam Raimi bringing his Evil Dead prowess to a web-slinging comic of note. Now, the grittier material is getting notice, but middling directors will start earning the paycheck. So it goes. The list of directors who could bring the story of a Texas preacher man whose been imbued with the power of pure goodness and pure evil (and the power to command people to do his bidding) to life is a long one. So is the list of directors better suited than DJ Caruso. Here are just seven of them (ranging from the obvious to the not-so), but feel free to brainstorm more:

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Silent Hill is one of the very, very, very few video game adaptations that has worked. It was a simple enough story that had the good sense to hire some talented actors, effects people, and the skill of director Christophe Gans (who also directed Brotherhood of the Wolf). Gans isn’t returning for the sequel (cleverly titled Silent Hill: Revelations), but the production has found another young vision to take on the project. Michael J. Bassett directed Deathwatch and the incredibly good Solomon Kane. Now, he’ll be heading back into horror territory with a story from the third game, featuring 18-year-old Heather Mason who starts having bad dreams and gets the urge to find her missing father. What’s the over/under that he’s been turned into a giant spider-humanoid in Silent Hill? Even odds? Thought so. I spoke with Bassett last year, and he’s about as sharp and energetic as you could hope for in a director. Essentially, the franchise now has a shot at 1) being a franchise and 2) being one of the good ones. [STYD]

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Great movies come from all around the world, and so do great DVDs and Blu-rays. Import This! is an irregular feature here at FSR that highlights discs and/or movies unavailable in the US that are worth seeking out for fans of fantastic cinema. Solomon Kane is good fun for a few reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this type of film just doesn’t get made that often anymore. Swords, sorcery, monsters… there was a time when these flicks were commonplace, and that time was the 80’s. Movies like The Beastmaster, The Sword & the Sorcerer, Conan the Barbarian, and others are rollicking adventures made by people with a strong love for the genre, and Michael J. Bassett’s Solomon Kane fits in perfectly with the best of them. Solomon Kane walks away from his father’s kingdom as a child and grows into a murderous mercenary who acts with greed and without conscience. His selfish ways meet their match though when the devil comes seeking his soul, but Kane escapes the demon’s wrath by leaving his violent ways behind and becoming a man sworn to pacifism. That oath gets tested when an evil scourge unfolds across the land and good people fall prey to a seemingly unbeatable foe. The people need a hero, and who better to face off against evil than one who knows it firsthand…

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For the first time on video, you can see with your own eyes as I wander around a parking lot and sit around in a bowling alley with a director who has the skills to become the next major franchise helmer.

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After the dismal failure of the opening night film, Gentlemen Broncos, I needed something to kick off my festival in the traditional, beloved Fantastic Fest style; Solomon Kane obliged.

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We’ve been training all our lives for this, and it’s finally here. Fantastic Fest 2009 promises to remove our eyeballs, pour blood, sex and ninja moves all over them and then shove them right back in our face. These are the 20 films that have us most excited about that upcoming amateur surgical procedure.

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A brand new image for Solomon Kane landed on our doorstep today to signal the upcoming footage they’ll be showing at Comic-Con on Saturday. And it looks fantastic.

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The Toronto Film Festival paints midnights red with zombies, flesh-eating cheerleaders, badass bitches and Tony Jaa.

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