More Killer Prequel TV News

Just so we’re clear I mean killer as in people killing not killer as in awesome. I don’t like the idea of these prequel television shows depicting a young Hannibal Lecter or Norman Bates at all. I’m trying to be open minded about them as they have some talented people running these shows but it just seems like a bad idea.

First of all we have the first casting news for the Psycho prequel in the works over at A&E. Vera Farmiga, an actress I like very much, is playing Norman Bates’s mother. The show is being run by Carlton Cuse who was one of the masterminds behind Lost. I still don’t like the idea but I like Farmiga and Cuse. I may have to see what happens with this show.

As far as Hannibal is concerned I don’t know how I feel about any of the casting choices on that one. Bryan Fuller is a talented writer but I have issues with exploring this character further.

When it comes to evil the more it is explained the less scary it becomes. Silence Of The Lambs worked so well because we knew very little about Hannibal. The sequels and prequels all diluted that to a point where he sort of lost his edge. Same with Norman Bates. The original Psycho was amazing. Psycho II was fun and had a great ending. Parts 3 and 4 were terrible. Then there was the God Awful made for TV movie The Bates Motel which was supposed to serve as a backdoor pilot for a television series back in the 80’s. That didn’t happen thankfully. It was bad enough we had to sit through Manimal.

The reason other shows about serial killers work is because they focus on the good guys. Even Dexter is technically a good guy. Criminal Minds is about the team taking down the killers. The same goes for any other paint-by-numbers procedural cop show. When the focus is clearly on the bad people then who do you root for on a weekly basis? You can’t really root for anyone. That’s the problem.

I could be totally wrong about both these shows. Only time will tell. But I was right in the 90’s when I said that I didn’t like Independence Day because I saw clearly in my mind that the filmmakers were gonna get lazy and then everyone finally agreed with me when they saw Godzilla. I was right when everyone else was singing the praises of Batman Forever and I said the director was ruining the franchise. I felt vindicated and disgusted when I was proved right after Batman & Robin was released.

I always hope I’m wrong and I do truly hope that’s the case here. Only time will tell.


I Have Come Here To Chew Bubble Gum And Review “They Live”…And I’m All Out Of Bubble Gum

Throughout the 1980’s John Carpenter made his best movies. The Thing, Escape From New York, Big Trouble In Little China and Starman being among them. But none of them are quite like They Live.

I remember the first time I saw this movie. It was on a local television station in the 80’s. They would show cheesy movies every Saturday afternoon. I found myself engrossed in its stupidity. I thought the acting was terrible, the story was weak, and the dialogue was laughable. Bit something happened after it was over. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

John Carpenter did something absolutely brilliant with this movie. He crafted a very smart film in a very stupid package. It almost seems like even that was a commentary on our society, like he believed that Americans didn’t want smart movies anymore so he made look as dumb as possible.

The story is a simple one. The world’s class system is becoming more and more divided. More people are out of work and the rich get richer. Former pro wrestler Roddy Piper discovers that aliens are behind everything when he puts on a pair of sunglasses that show him the world for what it really is. Then it is up to him to stop it.

Upon its initial release They Live was a disappointment at the box office. It was met with poor reviews and nearly forgotten…until television and home video made it into a cult classic. In fact, I would put in my all time top 5 John Carpenter movies. The list would probably go as follows – 1) The Thing 2) Halloween 3) Escape From New York 4) They Live and 5) In The Mouth Of Madness.

What makes this movie great is Carpenter’s disdain for authority and his inabilty to take things at face value. It was there in most of his work in the 80’s. He took a bad premise and turned it into a movie that is a social commentary about commercialism, ignorance, politics, and racism. It really was a very smart film.

If you have never seen this movie you need to. If you have and didn’t look past its cheesy exterior you owe it to yourself to watch it again. This is a great movie with a message that is just as important today as it was nearly 30 years ago.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

The Wachowskis For Justice League? Here’s My Opinion

Larry Lana & Andy Wachowshi made two really great movies as writers and directors. Maybe Cloud Atlas will make three. Bound and The Matrix were great films. There’s no question about that. The next two Matrix films were not great. Some would argue they were not even good, that the movies lost their way and fell apart. Let us not forget that they also made the God awful Speed Racer movie.

When not directing they still write. One thing they wrote was an adaptation of the amazing Alan Moore comic V For Vendetta. The best thing about the comic was that you understood V was a terrorist, someone not to be emulated. You understood him and why he was doing what he did but you didn’t ever make him out to be a hero. I can understand why Alan Moore didn’t want his name attached in any way to the film. They turned V into a hero. They justified his actions and him out to be a man who should be worshiped and admired as opposed to making the audience sympathize with him while at the same time being disgusted by his actions. It was a poor choice and a little lazy if you ask me.

Now the rumor mill is going strong with reports that the Wachowskis are in talks to make Justice League. I personally would rather see Ben Affleck. Unfortunatly, Affleck himself has already said he was never offered the chance nor had he even considered the possibility.

Even after people saw Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions they were still willing to believe the Wachowskis were good filmmakers. And maybe they are. But when they followed up their trilogy with the laughably bad Speed Racer most people wrote them off wondering if the brothers siblings had lost it. With Larry becoming Lana and the piss poor Speed Racer film it almost seems like they had gone off the deep end. I’m trying to reserve judgement until after seeing what Cloud Atlas has to offer. Honestly, I thought the movie looked beautiful but also kinda boring.

As far as Justice League I would rather see just about any other sibling team make the movie – the Hughes brothers would be great. As far as my list of directors I would like to see take on the film I would go with Edgar Wright, George Miller (who was once attached years ago), Ernest Dickerson, Guillermo del Toro or Joe Carnahan. I think any of them would be a better fit. I would still put the Hughes brothers at the top of my list. After seeing Menace II Society, From Hell and The Book Of Eli I would love to see what they could do with a Justice League movie.

That’s my opinion. Take it for it’s worth.

F##k Yeah! – Team America Reviewed

I have been a fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone for years. I have loved everything from Cannibal! The Musical to BASEketball. Sure, there have been weak episodes of South Park from time to time but they never cease to amaze me with their crazy outlook on things and their very unique manner of social commentary. Team America is no different.

The movie is about a team of American world police who think nothing of destroying the beauty of our planet in order to stop terrorists. When they lose one member of their team they recruit an actor to infiltrate a group of Middle Eastern terrorists in Cairo.

Over the course of the film they make fun of actors, Kim Jong Il, Jerry Bruckheimer style action movies and politics. Some of it lands perfectly and other bits miss the mark. Some of the best moments in the film come from the puppet of Kim Jong Il. His song “I’m So Ronry” was awesome. The other thing that made this movie work was the puppets of famous actors who behave in a very self-important and douche like way in real life. Sean Penn and Alec Baldwin were the biggest targets. But there were also some wonderful moments with Matt Damon, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.

Overall there was more good than bad in the film. I still feel if was the weakest movie they’ve made since Cannibal! The Musical. That’s not to say it was bad. It just wasn’t as good as most of their work.

I think that the movie deserves 3 1/2 stars out of 5. It got an extra half for Kim Jong Il’s musical number.

Shut Up, Crime! – It’s Time To Review “Super”

I have been a fan of James Gunn for some time. I find his work to defy description now often than not. Is his work comedy, horror, drama, suspense? It’s always hard to say. That’s the beauty of how films.

Gunn got his start working for Lloyd Kaufman at Troma Productions. There he worked on the surprising good Tromeo & Juliet. After a few years of writing small indie fare he landed a job writing the big screen version of Scooby Doo. The movie that was made didn’t really play out how he wrote it but it still had its moments. Then he wrote the surprisingly good remake of Dawn Of The Dead. It was after that that Universal gave him the chance to direct an original script he wrote. The project was Slither, a movie that took aliens, worms, zombies, and a crazy small town and threw it all in a wonderfully screwy little stew that made for a highly entertaining movie.

After the box office failure of Slither it took James Gunn a few years to get another movie going. It was worth the wait. Super is a wonderfully written genre defying movie about a regular guy who tries to do something extraordinary. What sets the movie apart is the fantastic group of characters he had in the story. Rainn Wilson plays Frank, a man whose wife starts doing drugs and leaves him for her dealer. Ellen Page plays Libby, a comic shop employee who appears to be a bit unbalanced. Kevin Bacon plays Jock, the drug dealer. Liv Tyler plays Sarah, Frank’s drug addicted wife. All of these characters are so engaging that the tonal shifts in the movie are hardly noticed.

Frank feels he has been touched by the finger of God to put on a costume and fight crime in an attempt to win back his wayward wife. Libby joins Frank’s quest with a serious bloodlust that proves to be far too dangerous for her own good. The movie jumps from sweetly sad to comical to violent without such energy that if you walk in at any given moment you’d think you were watching a different movie. It is both heartbreaking and hilarious. It moves from disturbing and dark to sweet and light without batting an eye. And Gunn’s direction allows you to feel okay with that.

If you were underwhelmed by Kick-Ass or thought God Bless America was too dark and borderline creepy then Super is the perfect movie for you. I really do hope the rumors of James Gunn making Guardians Of The Galaxy are true. I would watch anything the man does. This movie gets 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

You’ve Been Back Enough. Now I’ll Be Back – Expendables 2 Reviewed

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s was a wonderful time for action movies. I loved watching Stallone and Schwarzenegger films. Then Bruce Willis came along with Die Hard. I remembering watching Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and even Cynthia Rothrock and Jeff Speakman movies and loving them. I even used to imagine my own movie starring all of them when I was a kid. I thought how cool it would be to see them all share the screen together. No matter how late the dream came true with The Expendables it was worth the wait. I had a lot of fun with the first film. Needless to say I was very excited about the sequel.

To get such heavy hitters in the action genre together in a movie is always fun. Stallone, Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Willis and Schwarzenegger all together. Count me in. Plus, this time they added Norris and Van Damme and gave Willis and Schwarzenegger expanded roles. The overall product was decent and fun. Van Damme was a good villain. The story was simple but effective. It worked.

There were a few things, however, that bothered me. First of all, how many stupid jokes where someone is practically winking to the camera do we need in this film? Honestly, I don’t need references to Rambling, Die Hard, and Schwarzenegger’s “I’ll Be Back” catchphrase. The only one that worked had to do with Chuck Norris and a cobra. That was hilarious.

The other thing that bothered me was something that shouldn’t. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it though. They were in Russia at a soviet spy training town made to look like America during the Cold War. The Cold War ended before the American post office changed its symbol. They didn’t change to the new sleeker eagle image until the Soviet Union had collapsed yet in this America Town they were hiding in we see a mailbox on the street with the new eagle symbol on it. I couldn’t stop myself from wondering if the Russians ever stopped training spies. Maybe the FSB took over after the collapse and kept going with it. Maybe it was just an oversight on the production designer’s part. I don’t know. All I could do was think about this and wonder if it was a small hint of things to come in Expendables 3.

Okay, I got way off track there. I am supposed to be reviewing the movie not talking about my anal retentive attention to detail. The movie worked in some respects. The great thing about the first film was the personal journey of the characters. Stallone turned his back on his mission to what was right. Lundgren betrayed his friends and later redeemed himself and was later welcomed back into the fold. Mickey Rourke’s character had an awesome monologue midway through. That is what made the first movie good. This one got close a couple times but never found the magic of the first movie. Instead, it settled on making jokes and amping up the violence.

I still enjoyed in the movie very much. It just fell short of the first. Hopefully they can pull it together in the next one. We will see. 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. It would have been less but I don’t want Chuck Norris to come after me.

Lepus Update

We are slowly but surely making progress on getting Lepus ready to shoot by the third week of October. We’ve nearly settled on locations, most of the cast in place. Things are moving in the right direction. We may have found our Sheriff Cristos/Jesus. I don’t want to say anything yet but he sent me an email recently and is interested. He’s a local guy with a couple credits on iMDb and I think we’ve got him hooked. This character more than any other is the key. It needs to he cast just right. I think this guy may be it. The character would be the star of the trilogy we are planning with this short. Ded Moroz will be the second part. We have not come up with a title for part three yet. I like the idea of using other languages for the titles like Lepus being Latin for rabbit and Ded Moroz being Russian for Santa Claus. I want that to be a running theme with the trilogy. My niece Kelsee, who is playing the female lead, was forced to watch a few things that I told her would prep her for the movie. I showed her scenes from the season 2 premiere of Twin Peaks and the scene where Crispin Glover was dancing in the fourth Friday The 13th movie. She just gave me a weird look and said “Okay”. I don’t know if she fully understands the weirdness she’s in for. We shall know soon enough. Once we have a completed product I will post it here for all to see.

R.I.P. Tony Scott

It’s a sad day for movie fans. Tony Scott apparently took his own life today. It isn’t known what caused him to do so but he will be missed.

When a man has a famous family member it can be difficult to etch out a place for yourself without constant comparison. Tony Scott did just that. While Ridley Scott was off making movies that were less commercial Tony jumped into creating such big commercial action films as Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop 2. He continued to move his career forward by creating visually stunning work that redefined what we expected from action cinema.

Scott had a long cinematic relationship with Denzel Washington. They collaborated on several projects that proved to be some of Scott’s best work – Crimson Tide, Man On Fire, Unstoppable being amongst them. My personal favorite is True Romance, written by relative unknown Quentin Tarantino, and starred Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, and a host of others. This movie showed what Scott was capable of in terms of action and story. The scene between Hopper and Walken was one of the best scenes I have ever watched. The action scene at the end was like a pre-America John Woo. He really elevated his game with that one.

He followed True Romance with Crimson Tide, another great piece of cinema. Washington and Gene Hackman were both perfect in this film. This is my favorite submarine movie after Das Boot.

He took a different career path than his brother and showed the world what he could do. I’m both sad and angry that he is gone. I’m angry because I always felt that suicide and drug overdoses by celebrities are not deserving of our sadness. I also understand that he has family and I am sad for them. I know what it is like to lose someone close. I also know what it’s like to witness a person who is suicidal try to end their own life.

My heart goes out to his family. He will be missed.

Twin Peaks Vs. The Killing

I just decided to watch David Lynch’s wonderfully quirky Twin Peaks again after twenty years. As I was watching it I realized that there are several similarities between it and The Killing. I have not seen season two of The Killing yet so I don’t know where the similarities end but it is certainly obvious between the first seasons of each show.

1) Both shows take place in Washington state. It may not seem like a huge thing to say that two shows within twenty years take place in a certain state. The reason I feel it is important is the mood it creates. When a drama or a murder mystery takes place in Washington it automatically sets a rather dreary mood for the viewer.

2) Laura Palmer and Rosie Larson both lead double lives.
Another thing that brings these shows together is that Laura and Rosie were both involved in things their parents had no knowledge of. Both were, for lack of a better term, nearly or even literally whores.

3) The Casino Angle.
One Eyed Jack’s in Twin Peaks was a casino with brothel. It was located just over the border into Canada. Laura was possibly working there. On The Killing there was a casino on the Indian Reservation that Rosie was frequenting. This is where she was meeting her clients. On both shows it was difficult to get to the casinos due to jurisdictional problems.

4). Trust No One.
One thing Twin Peaks made sure of was that nobody was innocent. Everyone was hiding something. Whether it was running drugs or violent tendencies everyone was a suspect. The Killing was the same way. Thanks to the earlier similarities The Killing seems more like Twin Peaks by following this one. I know it is basic mystery writing 101 but there was already so much else I couldn’t help but include this too.

5) The Grieving Parent Is Not Beyond Reproach.
Laura’s dad is seen going more and more crazy as the show progresses on Twin Peaks. With The Killing it is Rosie’s mom. Both characters are given just enough insanity that it is possible that they may have killed their own daughters.

The obvious thing that sets these two shows apart is Lynch’s craziness. The show started off as a slightly odd murder mystery but by episode 3 it had moved into Lynch territory. As soon as the dream sequence began there was no doubt that we were in for a much wilder ride than we first expected. The Killing never went down that road. They kept things more firmly grounded in reality.

The funny thing is that The Killing is a remake of a show from Switzerland (I believe, or one of its neighboring countries). I have never seen the original series so I don’t know if they were inspired by Twin Peaks or if it was the person running the American remake that decided they wanted to turn The Killing into Twin Peaks without the weirdness. I don’t know if you can find the original show in the states but I would be curious to know.

Casting No-Budget Short Films

I don’t know if it was just a strange hope that we could fill a short film with professional actors mixed with friends for our short film, Lepus, but I have put my feelers out to several different actors I have met along the way. Some just don’t want to do it, which is understandable given the weird nature of the script. Others don’t want to do it because of the lack of pay. I understand that too.

Here’s the thing, though. We have someone including our short on a DVD to be sold internationally and we are offering a credit on iMDb. If the DVD contract works out then we will pay our cast and crew retroactively.

I guess what frustrates me is that I have to fill the short with family and friends with little to no acting experience. Now my nieces and nephews all want to be in the business and have talent. My writing partner will be playing the Lepus. All he has to do is look crazy and kill people. The only line he has in the entire thing is “essen mein scheisse”.

We had someone we wanted to play the sheriff who was dressed like Jesus and fights the Easter bunny. Unfortunately he is busy with his internet radio business. It’s going to 24 hour a day service. I’m happy for him and his success. I’m sad because he would have been a great Jesus.

I’m toying with the idea of playing the sheriff myself. I was always good at acting. I just always liked the behind the scenes stuff more. I wanted to write and direct. I know I can do the part. That wouldn’t be a problem. I’m gonna talk to my co-writer/producer and see what he thinks.

We are shooting this the third week of October and have the majority of the cast in place. We just need a few more people and we are set. We have time to find them. I’m not worried about that. I just don’t want to deal with the stress of starting without a full cast in place.