Archive for category Television

Hellraiser TV Series In The Works

Dread Central (via Variety) had an interesting post a few days ago about a potential Hellraiser TV series currently in development.  Apparently RHI Entertainment, who were formerly Hallmark Entertainment if you can believe it, have rebranded to become Sonar Entertainment and are now interested in producing TV shows with Hellraiser being an initial idea.  Typically when I hear movie remake news, I get indignant and complain (please reference any number of posts on this blog) but with this one I’m somewhat positive.  In the past few years television has quickly become my favorite medium for onscreen adaptations of novels with Game of Thrones being the most obvious example and the potential for a Dark Tower adaptation has me salivating.  The long-form medium of a series really opens up the potential for complex storytelling that just isn’t possible in feature films.  Imagine Game of Thrones as a 2-hour movie – ugh. I think it goes without saying that I’m talking about non-network TV here.  HBO or Showtime would be the most desirable locations for a Hellraiser show, but both FX and AMC have shown they are capable of putting out edgy series as well.

And let’s face it – the only good entries in the Hellraiser series are the first two.  The other seven are hokey, low budget affairs that were mostly straight to DVD.  So, it’s not like a TV series would be desecrating a great body of work.  Also positive is that Larry Kupin, who produced the first two films is apparently attached to this project.  It’s doubtful that Clive Barker will return to direct, but hopefully the series can match some of the gruesome design and effects from the first film – the bar has been set pretty high there:

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The Walking Dead Review: Zombie Headshots and Headier Characters

Fans of the zombie genre who stuck their noses up in the air at the thought of a living dead series on a cable station for fear of it being chewed up by the censors more often than the creatures needed to only hang around for the first five minutes of last night’s premiere to be proven wrong. As soon as it hits the screens, the series’ hero, Detective Rick Grimes, is seen weaving through derelict cars with a gas can in his hand when he hears footsteps and peeks under a car to see two delicate legs bending down to pick up a stuffed bear. When he rounds the car Grimes sees a pretty little goldie locks walking away from him and he calls out to her. While pretty much 99% of us knew what was going to go down once she turned around, it was easy to forget you were watching a cable show when she twirled to expose a ripped  mouth with braces showing and black blood oozing out from between her dental work. Once she starts her B-line for Grimes’ flesh, he draws his pistol and I expected a loud bang to play over the title screen.  Not the case. The audience is treated to a slow-mo blast to her face and the former eight-year-old girl zombie goes down like a sack of rotten tomatoes, accompanied by a spray of red. If that’s not enough, the camera cuts to a close up of the smoking crater on the girl’s head and a stream of blood trails down her cheek like a red tear drop. Welcome to the title screen.

After this we get a typical back story of how Grimes landed in the hospital when he and his partner had to trade lead with suspects. He awakes in a hospital and a scene that many cite as a 28 Days Later rip follows. The remaining hour-ten didn’t really offer anything else that zombie fans have never seen before, but the direction that Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption) and Co. take is what will hopefully keep viewers flocking to this show like zombies to a fat chick with limp. Put simply, their situations may feel stock but their examination of the human struggle is heart wrenching and believable.

For example, Grimes is taken in by a father and son hidden in a abandoned house, and as night falls the father explains the state of the world to Grimes over dinner while the son watches the creatures mill about in the streets. Suddenly, the son cries “She’s back.” Outside, is the remains of a young, once beautiful, women lurching through the crowd in a white night gown. The boy runs to his father who instructs his son to cry into a pillow while their undead mother/wife rattles the knob on the boarded-up front door.

Most attractive about The Walking Dead is its ability to build tension without feeling obligated to deliver a dozen cheap jump scares. In the aforementioned scene as Grimes moves about the house gently peeling away at the sheet so he can peek through the windows, the audience waits for the typical bloody face to surge out of nowhere and smear itself across the glass, but instead we are dangled on that thread of tension and watch as the ghostly mother drifts through the crowd of “walkers” making her way to the door. Grimes peers out through the peep hole as she floats up the porch steps with the tension red-lining as her vacant sunken eyes surveys the door, a memory she can no longer grasp. Creepiness at its best.

From here on out, The Walking Dead needs to keep answering the question, “Why should I keep watching,” and it will be difficult to maintain a television series in a genre that has been saturated to dripping by movies, books, and video games as of late. The story thus far has Grimes riding down the road into the city of Atlanta hoping to find his wife and son only to find himself in the opening scene of Day of the Dead 85′ sans the escape chopper. The hordes of zombies are so hungry that they eat his horse and leave him crawling away into the escape hatch of nearby a tank to seal himself safely inside just in the proverbial nick o’ time while over the radio a voices echos, “Hey you in the tank, you cozy in there.” Meanwhile, we have learned his wife and son are safe, but his partner has taken the liberty of helping himself to Grimes’ wife.

While it annoys me that every night time Soap has to bow to the cliched love triangle drama alla Lost’s Kate/Sawyer/Jack mess, I have seen far too many positives in the series’ 90 minute opener to start being a nay-sayer without further evidence. Anyone that has ever liked anything zombie should go and check this one out. If you didn’t DVR it I’m sure AMC will encore the pilot about fifty more times before the week is out.

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It’s ‘Bout Freaking Time

Cable Television has had the ability to support about about five thousand and one vampire dramas over the years, from Forever Knight to True Blood, it has been fine to squeeze blood out of overplayed stereotypes to pander to an audience. If blood suckers and sex can carry a supernatural night time soap opera than why have us zombie people never got a flesh covered bone thrown our way? Well at this year’s Comic-Con, AMC said “Why Not?”

AMC unveiled their plan to premiere a drama, The Walking Dead, that will follow survivors in a world with too many corpses with the munchies. From what the trailer and the website have to offer, it looks like its going to deliver the goods, but we’ll all have to wait until October to find out.

Check out the bootlegged trailer straight from Comic-Con here.

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To “V” or not to “V”

abc-vLast night, ABC launched its reimaging of the 1983 Miniseries and 1984 TV series “V”. Maybe, post Halloween depression mixed with nostalgia took over, but, for whatever reason, I sat down and decided to give it a chance. Given, the horror elements of his show would have big holes to fill in my mind.  At five, whenever any of the “Visitors” were unmasked their yellowed-eyed lizard faces would look out from my closet for the rest of the night. Would V (2009) do justice to childhood horrors?

For those of you who missed V (1983), it was about a race of space lizards that try to take over earth by wearing human skin over their own. A resistance was formed and lead by one Mike Donavan  (Marc Singer), of Beast Master fame, whose band of rebels, which included a criminal named Ham Tyler (Michael Ironside) and a V-human sympathizer, Willie, (Robert Englund), would try to defeat the visitors and save humanity (maybe by picking off the Vs with nightmares; nope wrong Englund role).  Looking back, the show was hokey 80′s at its worst, but it had its charm and even pushed the envelope with a controversial birthing scene where a human woman delivers twin hybrids: the first one with just a forked tongue but the second was a bit scaly. Early eighties television watchers were talking about that slimy green reptilian baby crawling out from beneath the light blue blankets and in between that woman’s legs for weeks.

After watching 2009’s attempt at a remake, I left it scratching my head at what this remake could possibly add other than twenty five years of improved CGIs and modern issues, of which they spent the entire episode tossing in the audience’s face. Like much modern television, the attempts to establish a modern setting was done to the point of distractions. Kids were videoing themselves, “tagging” the visitors symbols on bricking walls and posting it to their websites. The revelations of the pilot blamed the visitors for being puppet masters of the first two gulf wars, the recession, and even having their own terrorist sleeper cell. We better raise the terror alert to Green!

The casting itself reeks of clever marketing as genre familiar faces pop up everywhere including two crew member of Firefly’s “Serenity:” Morena Baccarin and Alan Tudyk.  The lead is played by Lost’s Juliette Elizabeth Mitchell who portrays a single mother, FBI agent investigating terrorist activity with her partner, Dale, played by Tudyk.

Long story-short, The Vs cruise into town and Baccarin’s character, Ana-high commander of the Vs, relates to earth how great their new found relationship is going to be. The foreshadowing of Ana’s sinister nature as she folds her nine foot legs in six inch skirts and smiles with her angular face beneath her bob hairdo could only be more obvious if she walked around with a copy of “To Serve Man” under her arm.

Everything else that this series is planning on cooking up was not all that mysterious, either. The FBI chick’s son finds himself hot over a little blonde V that has convinced him to be ambassador in some not-at-all-shady youth recruitment program. While that’s going down, FBI mom, fresh from almost being killed by her partner and discovering the scales under the rip on his face, launches a lazy speech about forming… a resistance.  At least, V isn’t telegraphing its punches and falling into a typical genre writing arc.  Sigh.

While I hate to judge a show by its pilot, I think a “reimagining” needs to imagine something new. Why after twenty -some years should audiences care about this storyline?  A pilot should answer that question and I’m still asking it after sitting through the debut episode that left me feeling like this is just another nostalgia marketing scheme with little substance.

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AMC Announces Fearfest ’09

Picture 1After weeks of wondering if AMC was abandoning its annual October horror movie marathon, they have finally put our fears to rest with the announcement of Fearfest ’09.  I always look forward to having horror on at any given point for my consumption but in past years I’ve been somewhat disappointed with AMC’s selections.  I do appreciate that they try to balance out the selection between older classics (Night of the Living Dead, The Fly) and newer films (Exorcist: The Beginning, Alien Resurrection) but I’m always wishing for movies not on their playlist.  I guess I’m just being idealistic, but can’t we have The Beyond? Friday the 13th? Suspiria? The Descent? You get the idea – all the movies that I want to watch.  Screw everyone else, right?

I hereby dub you non-essential

I hereby dub you non-essential

One thing I’ll never understand is the channel’s handling of the Halloween movies.  In past years, they’ve played parts IV and V but not the original!  And this year, they’ve completely omitted Halloween II but are playing parts I, IV, and V in a row.  How can you just skip the second one?

But enough complaining.  This year brings some great selections to the table including the full quadrilogy of Alien films, Puppetmaster, The Shining, Night of the Living Dead, Psycho, and The Frighteners.  Additionally, they will be offering about a dozen of B-movies streaming online, along with quizzes, competitions, and other cool content.

The TV segments will be hosted by some genre staples including George Romero, Cloris Leachman and Margot Kidder.  I know I’ll be catching as much as possible.  Long live the horror marathon.  Check out the official site for schedules and more.

Full list of films: Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien Resurrection, Return of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, Jack the Ripper, The Brain Eaters, The Fly (1958), The Fly II (1989), Dracula (1979), Exorcist: The Beginning, End of Days, Wolf, The Beast Must Die, The Frighteners, Raising Cain, The Shining, Psycho, The Innocents, Thir13een Ghosts (2001), Halloween, Halloween IV, Halloween V, Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster, King Kong, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, And Now the Screaming Starts, Puppetmaster, House on Haunted Hill (1999), Return to House on Haunted Hill (2007), Blood of Dracula, The She-Creature, Sabretooth, Young Frankenstein, The Ammityville Horror, Pinata: Survival Island, Night of the Living Dead.

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Best X-Files episodes directed by Kim Manners

The story didn’t make too many front pages, but Kim Manners, a longtime director/producer of the X-Files died a few days ago due to complications with lung cancer.  I’m a huge X-Files fan but I never paid much attention to who directed which episodes and when I looked into it, I found that Manners directed some awesome ones.  These ones are worth a repeat viewing.  And if, you’ve never watched the show, it’s never too late to start.  The excellent screenwriting, acting, and directing continue to keep this show relevant nearly seven years after it concluded.

x-files

Grotesque (1996) – One of the series’ early dark episodes, this one centers on the arrest of a suspected serial killer whose victims had their faces disfigured.  The man tells the FBI that he was possessed by a gargoyle-like demon who made him commit the murders.  Following the arrest, the murders continue and Mulder suspects the demon may have chosen another host.

Quagmire (1996) – This take on the Loch-Ness myth finds Mulder trying to prove the existence of a prehistoric creature living in Georgia’s Heuvelman’s Lake after the dissapearance of two people.

Home (1996) – This is easily my favorite episode of the series.  It’s one of only a few that genuinely creeped me out.  It was banned from Fox after its initial airing and was the only episode to receive a TV-MA rating.  After a deformed dead baby is found in a rural Pennsylvania town, suspicion falls on a family that is rumored to practice incest.  I won’t give any more plot details, but it’s genuinely frightening and it deals with a host of disturbing themes.

Demons (1997) – This mythology episode (ones that deal with the ongoing conspiracy plot) begins with Mulder waking up in an unfamiliar hotel room with blood on his shirt and no idea what is going on.  In this episode, we learn important details about the disappearance of Mulder’s sister and the connection between his mother and the Cigarette Smoking Man.

Chinga (1998) – An episode written by Stephen King about a girl and her demonic doll.  This one centers mainly on Scully and is loaded with action and violence.  While a bit of a departure from other episodes due to King’s influence, this one is one of the scarier episodes in the series.  You’ll hear the “Hokey Pokey” a little different after watching it.

Two Fathers (1999) – Following the return of Cassandra Spencer, the world’s first alien-human hybrid, the government conspiracy is threatened and The Cigarette Smoking man and his associates scramble to kill her.  This one gives more insight into The Cigarette Smoking Man’s character and is one of the better mythology episodes.

There are lots more since Manners had involvement with more than 50 episodes but these are some of my favorites.  RIP.

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