WHERE HAS JOHN G. JONES BEEN FOR THE LAST THIRTY YEARS?

Amityville boyJohn G. Jones was a musician, composer, and producer — Australian by birth, in America by choice — when he first met George and Kathy Lutz. Almost against his will, they persuaded him to tell the continuing story of what happened to the family from Amityville, New York after they escaped the most evil haunted house of the twentieth century.

He wrote a series of harrowing and revealing novels about the evil that escaped from Amityville and continued to plague them for years. He became an internationally renowned, best-selling author in North America, Europe, and around the world.

And then … he disappeared.

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IVERSON, INVASION, WHATEVER: GO WATCH ROBOT OVERLORDS

We’re clearly obsessed here at AmitvyilleNow International Headquarters. We recently were looking at our Twitter account, and noticed in the left-hand column that #AllenIverson was trending … and immediately read it as #AlienInvasion instead.

This of course, immediately brought to mind Robot Overlords, available now on Netflix. It isn’t about an alien invasion, exactly, but they are alien robots, so it’s close enough. It’s also a crazy-fun movie with stars like Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson and that new kid actor, Milo Parker, who was more recently in Mr. Holmes and coming up in Miss Peregrine’s Home for  Peculiar Children. His age is not listed in imdb, which makes us think he’s probably, like, thirty-two.

Enjoy!

BATMAN vs DEATHSTROKE: WHAT SUPERHERO FIGHTS ARE SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE

Yeah, you can shoot it at night. Yeah, you can have them in for close hand-to-hand combat. But you have to do it right, and way back when, future Deadpool director Tim Miller showed us how it was done, in a short animated (though it barely looks animated) short ostensibly produced to promote the video game Arkham Asylum.

All future superhero movie directors/designer/combat masters, take note. This is how it’s done.

 

JANE GOT A GUN IS FAR BETTER THAN YOU’D EXPECT

Jane_got_a_Gun_PosterJane Got a Gun is not a horror film, but it’s a damn good thriller that will appeal to the same sensibilities. And believe it or not, it’s a Western.

It’s also got a good pedigree. Jane comes from the same director and one of the writers of Warrior, a violent and effective thriller from a couple years back. Even one of the lead actors in this comes from Warrior (and much other stuff) as well. At the center of it all is Natalie Portman, of all people, who somehow manages to back away from her ethereal beauty and show a physical and vocal presence that’s both unexpected and very welcome. And the story is a straight-on, authentic Western with situations and dialogue we’ve both seen before and love to death (literally).

Best of all, the movie is damn beautiful. The trailer — which really doesn’t do the movie justice in a number of ways — does give you a hint of how great the cinematography is. You could watch this thing with the sound off and enjoy it.

And here’s the kicker: it’s playing for “free” on Netflix right now. (“Free” if you’re already a streaming member, that is. How horribly that word has been twisted in this, our twenty-first century!). Amid all the real mediocrity and inexplicable badness of the movies available through Netflix, it’s nice to see something new and actually worth a watch stumbling in from the wings.

Here’s a hint. Give it a try.

 

RINGS TRAILER MAY BUCK THE TREND: AN ACTUALLY GOOD SEQUEL

Yes, they’re as rare as hen’s teeth, but once in a while, once in a great while, there are sequels to hit movies that are almost as good at the original. Like Rings, maybe?

This trailer for Rings, the third (and last?) in the Rings Trilogy, seems to finish the nearly inexplicable mayhem that began almost fifteen years ago in Ring, a Japanese horror film nobody expected and even fewer understood. But the visceral imagery of that film has lingered for years, even amongst those who have never seen and don’t being to comprehend the first of the film (or remember the second one).

The tropes that The Ring established in 2002 have all returned. It’s so dark it’s almost black and white; it’s wet and slimy and just as full of hair as the original. But now that the era of land lines and VHS cassettes has passed, how will all this work? Here’s a hint:

 

 

We’ll just have to wait to see if all the brilliant visuals and the unsettling concepts behind them can overcome the self-imposed barriers of featuring far too recognizable faces from Shameless, Friday Night Lights, and i– God help us — The Big Bang Theory. The anonymity of the bodies in the original film definitely helped establish the willing (or unwilling) sense of disbelief and now, with Johnny Galekci’s face right in front of us, that might not be so easy.

But we’ll see. And certainly at this point, all the choking, grunting, whimpering ickiness of the original looks like it’s made the fifteen-year-trip to Rings.

THE TICK — OR A VERSION OF IT — RETURNS. SORT OF.

Tick 4It’s Pilot Season over on Amazon again, and one of the three new candidates is a reboot of The Tick, Ben Edlund’s really remarkable superhero comedy/parody that was a cult favorite in Fox about a thousand years ago, after a healthy cult-run as a comic (also by Ben Edlund). You can check it out here.

It’s not what we expected.

Tick 3Yes, it’s written by the Tick creator Ben Edlund, and even the original TV Tick, Patrick Warburton, is around as a producer. But it’s so … normal, in a way. Kind of dark and gritty. It actually has a plot, and it — it makes SENSE. It was actually more about Arthur and his origin, and about the superheroic world of the Tick than it was about the big blue idiot himself. And the Tick was (almost) as bizarre as you’d expect. But … in a sense, the explained *too much.* It wasn’t just blessedly goofy, the CIty was way to much like, you know, a CITY, and … and the Tick didn’t say SPOOOOON! even ONCE.

Tick 2The costumes are … acceptable. Kind of the New 52 version of what could have worked. The new Tick suit isn’t nearly as BLUE! as Warburton’s was. Arthur isn’t nearly old enough or dumpy enough. And we even know what anti-psychotics he’s on, and how brave and beautiful his sister is (“Somebody new is bleeding.”) by the end of the pilot. It’s all just so real. Just like it never was.

We really WANT to like this new Tick. We’ve missed it; the first show never got a fair chance to become a Simpson-like legend unto itself. But this version, even from Edlund himself, makes one more wistful than gleeful.

We’ll see.

THE JOY AND HORROR OF MAKING PENNYWISE REAL …

pennywise

… all over again.

Pennywise is, of course, the ultimate evil entity of the 1980’s, and even now, thirty years later (It was first published in hardcover thirty years ago — yes, yes, thirty years ago, in 1986). The TV version, years later, had lots of problems, but Tim Curry’s portrayal of the ultimate evil clown wasn’t one of them; it’s seared into the memories of a thousand-thousand children and young folks who still can’t get it out of their minds.

Until, perhaps, now. Bill Skarsgard is taking on the role for the remake, directed by the guy who directed the semi-successful Mama a few years back, and Entertainment Weekly has just released a couple new version sof the tweny-first century version. We are appropriately creeped out. It is sleek and seductive and wonderfully evil, and it somehow managed to make an impression without immediately harkening back to (or denying) the Eighties version.

We won’t get to see the full flick for a year or so, and surprisingly few people were excited about the idea of a remake. For good or will, he original film version is deeply embedded in a whole lot of psyches, and so far remakes of Stephen King stuff have not gone well (do we have to bring up The Shining? Do we?) But this actually gives us a little hope. And a few nightmares.

If you haven’t read IT in its original form, or if you haven’t done it this century … try again. Click here to order a copyThe new paperback edition has a crappy cover, but the guts are as great as ever, and you can get the Kindle edition for under ten bucks. You can rent or buy the 1990 mini-series on Amazon Video for as little ar $2.99, or buy it for under four bucks. And no, it hasn’t aged particularly well, though it is nice to see Harry Anderson again. And Seth Green was so cute when he was young and truly nerdy! (Beep beep, Richie). Whatever; it’s only four dollars. Besides, if you hate it you can always just chuck in down the nearest storm drain. Doesn’t matter.

Everything floats down here.

Finally: a full-body image of the new Pennywise. Sweet dreams…

Pennywise 2 

DON’T BREATHE IS DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN

Don't BreatheDon’t Breathe, the new horror movie from the guy that brought you the Evil Dead reboot, has a very fast, very brutal new trailer to shudder over. Don’t try and use to it figure out the plot (we’re not sure there is one), but you will be able to discern a few things:

It’s long on ‘scary,’ short on ‘story.’ Like a whole slew of haunted house and trapped-somewhere movies of recent vintage, many from the likes of Eli Roth and James Wan. it’s all about the scare, the jump, and not about … well, very much else.

It’s very familiar. In some ways, Don’t Breathe is a lot like a 1950’s Western, or eating at McDonald’s: it may not be very good, but at least it’s familiar, and sometimes familiar is all you want. The imagery, the concept, the pow-pow-pow pacing. If you’re looking for surprises – other than the bad guy jumping out of that shadow right there – look elsewhere. This is deja vu all over again.

You know the people, too. All too well. One of the fun things about the low-budget indies in the genre is the newess of it all — the presence of new, fresh faces. But not here. You’ll recognize both the characters (the spunky college girl, her dreamy boyfriend, their eerie nemesis – a blind guy, even!) and the actors playing them. Here you’ve got the girl from the Evil Dead remake and the cute boy from Goosebumps vs. the badass general from Avatar. Hell, they could have called it Suburgatory II: The Torturing and just closed the circle completely.

Even the title is strangely familiar: Don’t Breathe, Don’t Blink, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and whatever you do Don’t Look in the Basement.

Take a look and see if you don’t agree:

… and if you don’t, drop us a note below, or here on Facebook, or here on Twitter and tell us what we’re missing.

AND THEY SAY INNOVATION IN HOLLYWOOD IS DEAD…

Gale Anne HurdSo Gale Ann Hurd has found the director for her long-anticipated new horror tentpole, Hellfest. It’s Jennifer Lynn Chambers, who’s actually been directing TV episodes for most of the last five years, and didn’t have a big theatrical hit even before that. And what’s the premise of the ground-breaking new franchise? Hold on to your hat:

The film follows a fun Halloween night at a horror theme park gone deadly when a costumed killer begins taking out unsuspecting revelers who believe the killings are part of the show.

A costumed killer. On Halloween. In an amusement park. Killing teens one by one.

No. Please stop. Too many surprises. Too much innovation. My heart  can’t take it.

 

 

RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER RELEASES AN AWESOME TRAILER

Thank you, Alice. May we have another?

The latest – and apparently the last – of the Resident Evil franchise just released a new trailer. This one’s called The Final Chapter, and we’re once against returning to the new completely ruined Raccoon City and its hordes of icky but still fast zombies. There’s the evil cyber-girl, the amazing stunts and by far the most important: Milla Jojovich.

And really, doesn’t anything else matter? Milla Jovovich.

The film series hasn’t even resembled the video game franchise since very early on; plots and consistency have never been RE‘s strong suit (how many clones of Alice are there?), and it doesn’t look as if any of the other characters or actors from the earlier films are returning this time (except the evil cyber-girl. She’s ageless.) And really…does it matter?

We repeated: Milla Jovovich.

She doesn’t appear to have aged a day since Alice first appear fourteen years ago. In fact, it’s will have been five years since we last saw Alice, and here she is again – thank God. Rumor has it that she’s made other movies, done other things over the years, but really all we know is that she’s stayed in great shape and apparently become a crackerjack motorcycle mechanic in her spare time. And even if there isn’t any plot or continuity in between the kick-ass action sequence, there are still a lot of kick-ass action sequences. And we can’t wait.

The world has ended all over again. The zombie have returned. It is, in fact … forgive us … Milla time.

Check it out:

by the way, Milla’s got an active (and very fun) Twitter and Facebook community. Join up at @MillaJovovich, and re-live her recent live Facebook chat here

VIRAL: RETREAD OR WELCOME RETURN TO THE CLASSICS?

Taken on its own, the trailer for Viral, new from some of the Paranormal Activity folks, looks like a decent virus-driven-fast-zombie film. Read the comments under the YouTube posting of the trailer (seen almost 10 million times!) and you’ll see something more: those folks just hate it: it’s a rip-off of 28 Days Later or The Strain or The Last of Us or all of the above.  Take a look:

 

… and yes it is. But seriously, folks: is that a bad thing?

The zombie genre is almost by definition a imitative or anti-imitative niche. To all intents and purposes, and with only rare exceptions (Serpent and teh Rainbow comes to mind), all zombie movies are either derive from or in reaction to the tropes established by George Romero and his peeps way way in the 1950’s. The zombie movies we love (or hate) are either just like them (but better, prettier,m ore modern) or exactly the opposite of them (fast zombies, insect-like zombies, smart zombies in open rebellion, etc. etc.). So calling Viral — or any other zombie flick — “derivative” is kind of beside the point. The question is … does it work? Does it freak you out, scare you, make you jump — whatever it is you were looking for when you walked into the theater or clicked on the icon?

It’s pretty obvious: there’s absolutely nothing shown in that lengthy trailer that we haven’t seen many many times before. But never mind that: is it good? If it is, I’m in. If it’s not … well, the line for disappointing, unscary, uninspired and poorly made zombie flicks forms over tehre to the right, and it’s a long friggin’ line, people.

Let’s hope Viral doesn’t join the queue.

Opens here in the U.S. of A. on July 29.

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