Vampires

Fright Night 1985

Vampires are timeless; by their very nature immortal. Still, Hollywood has so shat the coffin with vampire movies of late that the creeping shadow on the wall no longer belongs to Nosferatu, but rather to permeating audience apathy. But there was a time, gentle viewer, when the legacy of the vampire canon found a way to integrate gloriously into the zeitgeist of a new era. That time was the 1980s. On this week’s episode, Cargill and I discuss some of our favorite vampire movies of the ’80s and examine how they incorporated the spirit of that decade into the long-running mythology of the blood-sucking undead. We won’t say this is an episode of Junkfood Cinema that you should sink your teeth into, because that’s far too obvious. That being said, you should totally sink your teeth into this episode of Junkfood Cinema. You should follow Brian (@Briguysalisbury), Cargill (@Massawyrm), and the show (@Junkfoodcinema). Download Episode #7 Directly

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Leaving Las Vegas

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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While both trying to cash in on a persistent craze and attempting to wipe the glitter off (it’s the herpes of the craft world for a reason), The Descent director Neil Marshall is the latest director ready to embark on The Last Voyage of the Demeter. The cruise will feature a vampire and a captive buffet aboard the high seas. According to a lot of nautical puns in The Hollywood Reporter, Millennium Films is taking the long-gestating script from Bragi Schut (Season of the Witch). It was written a decade ago, which means Schut has worked a long time to earn a single writing credit on a mediocre movie, but now his vision of extrapolating a minor plot point in Bram Stoker‘s classic novel will potentially see the light of day. For whatever reason, the project has attracted several directors (Robert Schwentke, Marcus Nispel, David Slade) and even a set of stars (Ben Kingsley, Noomi Rapace) but has never made it past the development stage. Now, it has a fresh start, an intriguing director, and a lot of potential for a trend that might be in its death throes (again) even if it’s going out with a prolific bang.

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Drinking Games

There are two types of people in this world: those that like glittery vampires whose biggest battle is with a hunky teen werewolf over the heart of a humdrum angsty teenager… and those that don’t. If you’re in the latter category, you might enjoy vampires of a different kind, ones that actually rip their victims apart and fight to the death with real tear-off-your-face werewolves. Fans of the violent vampire/werewolf conflicts likely are fans of the Underworld movie series, and it’s latest installment, Underworld: Awakening hits DVD and Blu-ray this week. This drinking game will help you get through the latest film with some giggles, and it can also be used for the first two Underworld films as well.

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As we get further and further out from The Twilight Saga’s initial success, it starts to feel like more and more of a stretch to accuse everything featuring young women and vampires of being a cash grab meant to capitalize on the mainstream’s fascination with Team Edward vs. Team Jacob. And yet, other than as a cash in on Twilight, I can honestly think of no other reason why a movie as miserable as The Moth Diaries would exist. A tale about the repressed sexuality of an all girls boarding school and how bottled up feelings bubble to the surface once a vampire is introduced into the mix, director Mary Harron’s adaptation of the Rachel Klein novel of the same name fails on almost every level imaginable. Initially my instincts were to blame that on Klein’s novel – which I haven’t read – because Harron had already proven herself a capable adapter of literary works with her 2000 film American Psycho; but, on further inspection, the excuse of less than serviceable source material failed to explain the film’s made for (crappy) TV look, the incapable actors that fill its supporting roles, or its scatter-shot, disjointed pacing. No, The Moth Diaries has to be a case of everyone involved firing on absolutely no cylinders.

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Amy Heckerling has been developing the habit of making movies about once a generation that perfectly encapsulates the zeitgeist of current youth culture. In the early ’80s, it was her film Fast Times at Ridgemont High that gave high school kids all over the world the idea to have pizzas delivered to their classrooms and made that one Cars song be forever linked with Phoebe Cates taking off her top. In the mid-’90s she brought us Clueless, which introduced the world to how cute Paul Rudd is when he sheepishly grins and finally asked a lost generation to pull up their pants and stop looking like trashballs. So now that it’s 2012 and Heckerling has written and directed a new film, you have to ask yourself if it’s going to be another one of those generation defining moments in movies, or if it’s just going to end up being another Look Who’s Talking? Her new project is called Vamps, and seeing as it’s a little late to cash in on the vampire crazy, its chances of becoming a big thing are already looking kind of dicey. That doesn’t mean it won’t be fun though, because it has a completely ridiculous cast, and a plot that sounds tailor-made for getting everyone’s girlfriends to squeal.

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It’s a mystery why Tim Burton gets stuck in the black and white world from time to time because he’s one of the few filmmakers who can make primary colors creepy. Apparently the marketing department for Dark Shadows is pretty good at it too. With Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Moretz and more popping boldly into the foreground, these posters are a reminder of the idiosyncrasy inherent in some of Burton’s filmmaking: vibrant grays and disturbing, bright colors. Check them out for yourself:

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The first teaser for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 was anemic not only because it was for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, but because it was a confused flash of nothing. The first full tease is 49 seconds that expands on that nothingness, but it still manages to make Kristen Stewart‘s Bella super creepy as her eyes glow a vampiric red as she stares down a poor defenseless deer. As the movie before it attempted shock with its WTF attitude toward bed-breaking sex, it looks like this one wants to solve an age-old mystery: Bella Swan killed Bambi’s mother. Check it out:

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This Week in DVD

It’s the last DVD release week of November, and judging by the stellar releases out today it’s fair to say Christmas has come early. There are several titles, big and small, deserving of a purchase or at least a rent, and they’re pretty widespread genre-wise too. Some of the week’s offerings include Tucker & Dale vs Evil, Our Idiot Brother, Friends with Benefits, 30 Minutes or Less and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Another Earth The unfortunately named Rhoda (Brit Marling) is a bright high-school graduate with a limitless future, but on the night a new planet is discovered in the night sky above she celebrates a bit too hard and smashes her car into a family of three. A few years later, Rhoda is released from prison and makes an attempt at an apology to the man (William Mapother) she injured and whose wife and child she killed. Communication with the new planet has also revealed that it is a mirror image of our own as far as geography and population, but that different choices there may have given way to different events. Marling co-wrote this intriguing and often mesmerizing sc-fi/drama with director Mike Cahill, and while the logic and explanation behind the science fiction aspects are woefully lacking the drama, character work and “what if?” scenarios are excellent. As she does in the somewhat superior Sound of My Voice Marling brings an ethereal and fragile presence to […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in layers and layers of rain gear to brave the estrogen storm that comes with the showing of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I. After enduring that non-masterpiece, he dances down a few screening rooms to watch the new Happy Feet movie. Confounded by the gelatinous goop that masquerades as movies this weekend in American cinema, Kevin eventually curls up in a ball and softly weeps.

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Boiling Point

In the cinematic world, protagonists face a lot of challenges. It can be Sasquatch or Yeti, German thieves or vaguely ethnic terrorists, zombies, aliens, werewolves, or vampires, and that’s just the exotic list. Our heroes might face down against a redneck hillbilly, a couple of gangbangers, or some cracked out carjacker. Simply put – it’s hard out there for a pimp. To combat these varied dangers, a hero must go armed. The proper choice of weapon depends on the threat faced, availability, and the environment. I’m not sure anyone has ever fought a hillbilly without the aide of a bow or crossbow, stopped a robbery without a pistol, or put down a zombie apocalypse without the use of a shotgun. In the face of such great dangers, you’d think that the protagonist would make sure that he and his companions were always well equipped to face adversity. But you’d be wrong.

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage. Synopsis: Miriam and John Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie) share a passionate longtime love affair, traveling the world and indulging their mutual taste for classical music and the blood of the living. Although John’s love for Miriam might last forever, his youthful vigor will not. After centuries at Miriam’s side, he begins aging at an accelerated rate. Like Miriam’s many past paramours, John seems doomed to a fate worse than death. Under the guise of finding a cure, Miriam begins courting her next conquest – sleep researcher Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon).

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We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage. Synopsis: Based on the novel “Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist the film Let Me In is relocated from Sweden to Los Alamos, New Mexico. Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a friendless boy, a victim of bullies at school. Not a day goes by when he isn’t pushed, shoved, harassed and threatened. With no one to turn to, not a friend, or teacher, not even his parents who are consumed by a bitter divorce, Owen retreats into  violent fantasies of revenge. One night a man (Richard Jenkins) and his daughter Abby (Chloe Moretz) move into the apartment complex and Owen becomes curious about the girl who only comes out at night, sits in the cold with no shoes or coat, but seems untouched by the frigid New Mexico winter. She looks ragged, she smells bad, her hair is lank and her are eyes dull. But even so, Owen is drawn to her. The next time he sees her she’s been transformed, no longer sickly looking, she looks like a pretty little girl. Owen will learn she’s without a doubt different from any girl he’s ever met.

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage. Synopsis: Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) is just a normal nerdy high school kid whose inconceivably less-nerdy girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) wants to have sex with him. However, Charlie is more interested in what’s happening next door, where he believes a vampire has recently moved in. After a mysterious murder of a local prostitute sparks Charlie’s suspicions, he seeks the advice of local horror fan Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) on how to protect himself. But when it becomes clear that Jerry (Chris Sarandon), the vampire next door, is wise to Charlie’s ways, he begs local TV show host and vampire hunting legend Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) to put the bloodsucker back in the grave.

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And The Joker is his stylist. CelebBuzz (via Cinema Blend) has a handful of shots that prove that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have begun shooting Dark Shadows, but the design work going on here is absolutely atrocious. Fortunately, there are more where the one above came from. Of course, we don’t know if this is the costume and make-up work for Barnabas Collins or just Depp arriving to work, but if it’s the former, applause is in order. It’s nice to see that they’re keeping this thing as cartoonish as possible. Dark Shadows was never meant to be taken seriously.

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Quick. Name the one supernatural movie trend that you’re most tired of. Excellent, now see if you can give it one more, distinctly different chance. The trailer for indie film Daylight Fades looks to take a tortured approach to the vampire story by making it the last resort. In the film, two people meet, fall in love, and then get ripped apart by an accident that leaves one on death’s door in the hospital. There’s a solution, but like most desperate things, the price might be far too high to pay. Check it out for yourself:

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Screenwriter Marti Noxon has had career infested with the supernatural. After great success with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show, she worked on Mad Men with the ethereally handsome Jon Hamm and then jumped to the screen with I Am Number Four. Her latest is Fright Night, and, okay, if you check out her resume, it features a lot of TV shows that have absolutely zero werewolves or ghosts or anything, but that doesn’t mean she’s not a massive fan of things that go bump in the screen light. My extended interview with Noxon will be a part of next week’s Reject Radio, but here’s a healthy part of the conversation to whet your appetite – including some talk about the screenwriting process, how she first got the idea for the script’s direction, and how Las Vegas is like a Spielberg suburb turned wasteland.

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It’s September of last year and I’m standing in a hallway at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico, cursing at the door to my room. It’s one of those ubiquitous card key locks, and I’m in no mood for a third trek down the long hall, down the glass elevator, and back to the front desk to admit once again that I’m apparently an idiot who can’t open a door. It’s a brilliant start to my Fright Night press visit that I’m only a part of due to a scheduling conflict elsewhere on the FSR team, and when combined with my already cynical view of the whole set visit concept it hardly bodes well for the next few days. I just don’t see the appeal of it all for anyone aside from the studio and the writer. The studio gets some relatively cheap marketing, the writer gets a free trip, free hotel, and a chance to hobnob with the talent, and the readers get… what? Interview quotes that will be repeated on a dozen different web sites? A puff piece about how awesome the final movie is going to be? Clearly, I’m the wrong person for this particular assignment.

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Like most giant stars, Johnny Depp is attached to far more projects than he could ever appear in, so any news of upcoming development is near meaningless. With that in mind, here are three more pieces of meat that Depp is adding to his plate. Slashfilm is reporting that he’ll be continuing his engrossing and high grossing relationship with Disney by developing an adaptation of the 1970s made-for-TV movie The Night Stalker which features a journalist who starts to believe that serial killings in and around Las Vegas are actually the work of a vampire (which sounds curiously like the new Fright Night). Along with The Mouse, Depp is also trying to bring the story of Paul Revere’s midnight ride to life. Here’s hoping he doesn’t do all his research for it on Wikipedia. If that weren’t enough, Depp wants to start moving on In the Hand of Dante with Julian Schnabel as the director. According to The Playlist, the project isn’t exactly official, but Depp owns the rights, and Schnabel claims, “We’re gonna work on writing it, developing it.” The story, adapted from the book by Nick Tosches splits its time between Dante finding inspiration to write his “Divine Comedy” in the 14th century and a fictionalized Nick Tosches sinking into the underworld in 2001.

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Remember the MPAA’s much ballyhooed new rating for adult themed/non-porn films back in 1990? NC-17 stood for ‘No children under 17″ and was meant for films too aggressively naughty or thematically mature for kids and teens to even glimpse. One of the earliest films to receive the rating was Belgium’s caustic and satiric faux-documentary, Man Bites Dog (1992). It features a camera crew following a serial killer day to day as he does what he does best… kill, rape, and disembowel innocent people. It’s a brilliant film that manages to subvert both documentaries and serial killer films in one bloody swathe. Vampires is not rated NC-17, but then again pretty much nothing is these days. (A Serbian Film most likely won’t play in a theater with that rating, and Blue Valentine successfully appealed down to an R.) But it bears a few other similarities with with the film starting with its country of origin, Belgium. It’s also done in the style of a documentary, but the serial killer is traded in for a family of vampires who introduce the filmmakers to their modern-day bloodsucking ways. It doesn’t have the same bite as that earlier film, but it’s violent, darkly comic, and damn good.

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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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published: 12.12.2014
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