Stake Land

One of 2010’s most wicked independent horror films is getting an American remake, thanks to a pair of up-and-coming filmmakers. Director Jim Mickle and his screenwriter partner Nick Damici are now set to remake Jorge Michel Grau‘s We Are What We Are, the best little Mexican horror flick about a family of cannibals you’ve likely never seen. As our pal Peter S. Hall points out, with Mickle signed on for the remake, that means that a film from 2010’s Fantastic Fest is getting remade by a director who also had a film at that same FF. Synergy! Mickle and Damici’s Stake Land played at FF, as well as at Toronto as part of their Midnight Madness sidebar (where it won the People’s Choice Award). The film followed a set of survivors attempting to scrape by in a post-apocalyptic wasteland ruled by vampires. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the film, Mickle and Damici infused their characters with believable and likable qualities, and then set them against an appropriately gritty and terrifying background. And Grau seems to agree, saying “I feel fortunate to have someone with the vision and talent Jim has to re-interpret my work. It is extraordinary to have a team of filmmakers so respectful of the spirit of a film and take such good care of its essence. I’m so proud to know We Are What We Are will be reworked under that kind of intelligent frame of mind. Very happy that Jim will construct a new […]

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In Stake Land, the country has been ravaged by economic depression, social upheaval, and, of course, vampire attacks. In this exclusive clip, director Jim Mickle talks a bit about the origin of the project, and producer Larry Fesenden shares some real insight into what it’s like filming in areas of the country that have been hit by the economic downturn that they can only fictionalize. But don’t worry. There’s good old fashioned blood spilling for those that want their horror sticky (and without political commentary).

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This Week in DVD

Last week saw a record 634 DVDs get released unto the world, and we managed to cover half of them in our little column here. Thankfully this week’s schedule features a far more manageable number of titles. Many of them are smaller films that you probably missed during their brief theatrical windows (if they got one at all) including the sweet Dear Lemon Lima, the bloody Stake Land, the unstoppable pimp filled Streetwalkin’, and this week’s Pick, The Music Never Stopped. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Music Never Stopped Fifteen years after a teenager (Lou Taylor Pucci) leaves home following an argument with his father (JK Simmons), his parents receive word that their son is in the hospital. He was struck down by a brain tumor shortly after leaving home, but while the tumor was surgically removed he’s been uncommunicative and unable to make new memories ever since. Now a father and son will attempt to reconcile across that fifteen year divide through the only language the young man can understand… music. This true story from the writings of Oliver Sacks is a small film with a huge heart. Pucci and Simmons are both fantastic, the soundtrack is a who’s who of seventies hits, and the film as a whole is a heartwarming reminder of the importance of loved ones. (See? I’m not a cynical bastard all of the time.)

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Stake Land hit select theaters this Friday, and now two character images make their way to your eyeballs. The latest from Mulberry Street director Jim Mickle, the movie tells the story of a country collapsed, a vampire plague hosted by the abandoned towns, and a frantic escape to the safe refuge of Canada. That makes total sense. Check out the hobo chic and vampire aesthetic of the images for yourself:

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The Reject Report

…for Elephants! But seriously, that’s a lot of possessive apostrophes going on in that title. If I wanted to do a remake of this movie – I could. I have the funds – who would I have to get the rights from? Madea? Tyler Perry? Oprah? There’s a lot of ownage going on in here. Lionsgate is hoping for a lot of ownage at the box office this weekend, too. I know you saw what I did there. That I’m pointing it out is chalked up to arrogance. The elephants, cats, and birds of the world might have something to say about it, but there’s little chance they’ll be able to do anything about it. Let’s see how everything breaks down. That is, if Tyler Perry allows it.

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A few years ago Jim Mickle directed and co-wrote a film with actor Nick Damici about a zombie outbreak in a Manhattan neighborhood where the disease originated from plague-carrying rats. That film was Mulberry Street and is still one of the better pictures part of the After Dark film series – and by better I mean actually worth your time to watch. It does well to focus primarily on the characters for the better half of the first forty minutes so that when the outbreak spreads and hits the neighborhood full-on we actually give a damn and feel like there’s something to be lost when a character bites the dust.

It was this commitment to character development that had me excited for the second film from Mickle and Damaci about a vampire takeover in a post-apocalyptic landscape of the central United States – titled Stake Land. Damaci (lead actor as he also was in Mulberry Street) is a vampire killer/drifter known by his best friends as Mister and has been traveling North through heavy vampire and Christian occult terrain to a supposed refuge in what we know in the present as Canada – because vampires hate national healthcare. Along the way he passes by a family being mauled by a vampire and is asked to promise the parents of a young man that their surviving son will be looked after and brought to safety. Mister, not being one for sentiment agrees, but with the condition that the boy will carry his own weight and be a helping hand. If he becomes a burden, he’s on his own.

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With the exception of Gentlemen Broncos, we were spot on with our Must See Films of Fantastic Fest 2009 list last year. While we’d love to take the credit for it, the truth is that it’s Fantastic Fest that came through with a large slate of winners from the weird world of genre. Fantastic Fest is the movie festival for movie lovers, and as the FSR Death Squad assembles yet again, we’re gearing up to attack the event with a renewed fervor by shining the spotlight on the films we’re anticipating the most. We’re pleased to have Adam Charles, Robert Fure, Brian Salisbury, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius (led by the slightly inebriated and deep fried Neil Miller) comprise the Squad this go ’round. As for the Must See movies, this year, we’re enlisted four members of the Squad to choose 5 films each, and the result is a list full of blood, Hong Kong action, gritty Santa Claus stories, geriatric Kung Fu, Dystopian societies, ninjas from Norway, slasher follow-ups, mental trips, creepy clowns, and little girl vampires. A truly sprawling feast for the eyes and ears. Hopefully you’ll be sitting next to us, but if not, we aim to make you feel that way with our coverage. It’s time to get excited. Here are the 20 films that have got us running to the famous Alamo Drafthouse for Fantastic Fest 2010.

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And the hits keep right on coming… and by “hits” I mean awesome movie announcements from Fantastic Fest 2010’s already incredible film schedule. The first wave of titles was announced last month and included several highly anticipated films like Let Me In, Ip Man 2, Golden Slumber, Outrage, Red Hill, and more. Earlier today the second round of titles was released, and as expected the list of upcoming movies represents probably the greatest gift to mankind since pizza. Fantastic Fest 2010 runs from September 23rd through September 30th. The official press announcement is below…

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