The Official Newsletter of The Imaginative Cinema Society
The love of many, the work of a few....

July 2005  #78

 
 
CLUB NEWS  
JUST READ ALL THE CLUB NEWS!

TV NEWS
What is happening with our faves

MOVIE NEWS
The hottest news out on ICS genre films

JIM’s DELVINGS
A Review from the eyes of an ICS member

FAREWELLS
Old friends, now gone

THE LAST WARD
From ICS member John Ward

ICS CALENDER
Put this up on the Fridge!


Editor-Betsy Childs 
Staff Writers- Regina Vallerani, Andrew Kent John Ward
Dava Sentz, Mike Laird, Joe Plempel, Gary Roberson, Charles Wittig
Taylor Sherblom Woodward, Jim Childs, Jeanne Matcovich, Mike Schilling

 
 
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NUMBER ONE FUN
 When film fans hear the name Jackie Chan, they often think of his comic skills and his penchant for dangerous stunts.  He combines those two so well that one may think he had an easy path to stardom.   However, that was not the case.   Andrew Kent gave us the ins and outs of Jackie’s life and career from birth to 1983.  
 Jackie Chan was born to impoverished parents in 1954 and was sent to the Chinese Opera Academy where his acrobatic skills were honed in an environment of discipline and asceticism.  While there, he befriended two other students whose careers later became linked with his – Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao.
 Jackie’s first films were not very successful from a financial and audience standpoint.  While he may have gained respect for his martial arts skills, he was often cast as a grim, Bruce Lee inspired character, most notably by director Wei Lo, with whom Jackie had a 10 film contract.  He often requested to lighten up the films and his characters, but Lo either refused or poorly acquiesced to his wishes.  Jackie even attempted to go Hollywood and worked in THE BIG BRAWL and both CANNONBALL RUN movies, but these Tinseltown flicks did not showcase his talents any better than his Hong Kong directors did.
 It wasn’t until he worked with action director extraordinaire Yuen Wo Ping in SNAKE IN THE EAGLE’S SHADOW that Jackie’s unique talents began to flower.  Audiences loved his comic, almost slapstick skills and his daring stunts.  More films in the same vein followed, like DRUNKEN MASTER, FEARLESS HYENA.  By this time, Jackie was able to escape a restrictive contract with Lo, and began to write his own ticket to stardom.
 These few paragraphs cannot even begin to relay all of the information that Andrew presented - in both narrative and clip format.  Needless to say, if you wonder what happened to Jackie’s career after 1983, stick around for Part 2 – 1983 to the present –scheduled sometime in 2006.  Thanks, Andrew, for that incredible presentation!!   
 
 
A-OKAY
 Our movie choices for the night showcased the best of early Jackie Chan.  The club voted for PROJECT A – a film of almost epic scope.  The plot goes something like this: In the 19th Century, pirates are haunting the waters around Hong Kong.  But, before the city's coast guard can be sent against the villains, their ships are mysteriously destroyed. Without vessels, the coast guard is disbanded, and its men, including a very energetic young sailor named Dragon (Jackie Chan), are transferred to the police department.  As a policeman, Dragon participates in an investigation of some of the pirates' accomplices, and, while doing so, he comes into contact with his ne'er-do-well friend, Fei (Sammo Hung), who has been hired by the miscreants to supply them with rifles.  Undeterred by this, or by his conflicts with his superiors, Dragon continues his increasingly complicated fight to bring law and order to the rough and tumble world of British Hong Kong.  This film also has an absolutely terrific bicycle chase that would fit well in an old Buster Keaton comedy.

BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL
The midnight movie was interesting. This movie centers on a high school principal who is desperate to get to the finals, but he has only a mediocre team.  The main student players are, surprise, surprise, an incompetent, glasses-wearing outfielder, a stocky jock with more brawn than brains and the school rebel with a killer (literally) fastball pitch.  
If this were a mainstream film, you could guess the formula – the principal would hire a fallen, but once-legendary coach who would inspire these ‘losers’ to work together as team and they would sweep the season and by the end, everyone would learn some type of life-affirming lesson….yawn…  
But, being that this is a Japanese film (courtesy of Mr. Steve Vaught, thank you very much!) and the baseball teams’ first opponents of the season are the undefeated Zombie team Gedo High School who play no-rules ball (team with the most surviving members wins), you can guess that the formula was chewed, chopped, burned, and thrown right out the window.  Adding to the fun is the fact that the school rebel has such a destructive fastball, that his catcher requires a huge, novelty size catching mitt.   And don’t forget the odd musical number and cheesy dialogue to keep you totally off balance.  Thanks for bringing it in Steve!

TSUNAMI DRIVE A SUCCESS!!!  THANKS!!!
Our Tsunami Pledge Drive netted $280 from the cigar box and check donations and a special $1,000 check from Joe Plempel for a grand total donation of $1,280.  Thanks to Joe and to all who made a donation to this worthy cause!

HORRORFIND
   We are going to participate in the Horrorfind convention from August 19-21. We'll need folks to staff the table. We will be passing out a list to see who’s interested in helping out and who can confirm to a time.  
 Think about what you are doing that weekend and if you can participate by giving us an hour or two at the table, that would be great.  If you know you will be at the convention anyway, an hour is not much and it’s for ICS! Look at your schedule and see which of the days you can help us out. We need volunteers for the ICS table for the whole time the convention is running.
 We will also be collecting movies to sell at Horrorfind.  No books or collectible figures or toys, please.  Those items are harder to sell and take up more space.  Again, MOVIES ONLY please. Go thru the shelves and see what is gathering dust – we will take vhs or dvd’s. And these will make money for YOUR club.
 Thanks to Dave Henderson for agreeing to store the goods at his home until the convention! 

NEWS OF OUR NEXT MEETING
 Our next meeting will be held on Saturday July 30th at 5:30 P.M. at the church hall behind the Perry Hall Presbyterian Church located at 8848 BelAir Road. Take Baltimore Beltway exit 32 north on Belair Road. Turn left onto Joppa Road. Immediately past the miniature golf course turn left into the parking lot. If you miss it there are ample turn-around opportunities. If you get stuck call 443-570-6455. That's Dave Willard’s cell phone. He'll talk you in.   
 
A NIGHT OF THE FUN-DEAD
 Scrap your OC plans – July 30th is the ICS event of the SUMMER.  We have a special guest presenter - Dr. Peter Dendle, an Associate Professor of English from Penn State’s Mont Alto campus.  Dr. Dendle is the author of the work that’s considered to be the definitive work on undead movies – The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia (I’m bringing my copy for an autograph!).  He will discuss zombie films from the early WHITE ZOMBIE days to current films like 28 DAYS LATER and DAWN OF THE DEAD 2004.

FOOD ALERT -  ICS NEEDS PEPSI, DORITOS, CUPCAKES AND YOU!!
Please bring assorted snacks and drinks to the next meeting as our current stock is just about down to ZERO.
 This is a reminder that YOUR BELOVED FOOD FUEHRER Barry is asking for food and drink donations from everyone attending the next meeting. It would be appreciated. By all of the other hungy ICS members. And please, remember t his next meeting is a special one, we will have more then the usual members so keep that in mind when bringing treats.
 

 
 
 

tv news tv news tv news the glass teat tv news tv news tv news

SPOTNITZ AND NIGHT STALKER
The upcoming horror series The Night Stalker will put a fresh, modern spin on the two 1970s Night Stalker television movies and the short-lived series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, that inspired it, according Frank Spotnitz, the X-Files veteran who will executive produce the new show. Spotnitz said that his take on The Night Stalker, which will star Stuart Townsend (Queen of the Damned) as the put-upon, evil-chasing reporter Carl Kolchak, is to make the central character younger, sexier and more conflicted. 
"What the show's really about is good and evil," Spotnitz told the site. "In this show, evil really does have supernatural forces at its command. Good does not. Good has to operate through human beings. So that is interesting to me." 
Spotnitz added: "I'm not a religious person, but I do a lot of reading of religious stuff. I do think, whether you're a person of faith or not, it does seem like evil is so much more powerful than good. I believe, if there is a God, God expects good to operate through men and women, that goodness in the world exists through the goodness of what people do. ... Good people have to live by a code. They have conscience and mercy and all those things that get in the way when you're trying to destroy evil. That's what this show is ultimately about. It's interesting, because you don't know if Kolchak really is what he says he is." The Night Stalker will debut this fall on ABC.

CUOCO JOINS CHARMED
Kaley Cuoco (8 Simple Rules) is joining the cast of The WB's witch series Charmed in its upcoming eighth season. Cuoco will play a young witch under the tutelage of the Charmed ones (Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs and Rose McGowan). 
In addition to Cuoco, the upcoming eighth season of Charmed will feature Mark McGrath, who signed on to do a multiepisode arc. 
Cuoco's credits also include the NBC miniseries 10.5 and ABC Family's original movie Crime of Fashion.

LOST WRITER OFFERS A HINT
Javier Grillo-Marxuach, a writer and supervising producer of ABC's hit Lost, offered only a tantalizing hint about Michelle Rodriguez, who joins the regular cast in the show's upcoming second season. "We know she made mention of sitting in the back of the plane," Grillo-Marxuach said in an interview, referring to Rodriguez's brief scene in a flashback with Jack (Matthew Fox). "So does that mean if she survived, others survived? I guess it could mean that, couldn't it? It's just one of those things where you have to go, 'Uh, ha!'" 
Beyond that, Grillo-Marxuach said of the second season, which gears up soon: "We have a very good idea of the [overall arc] stories of the show. We have a plan for these characters. Now it's just a matter of doing the spade and trowel work and turning them into episodic storylines." 
Grillo-Marxuach declined to comment on several rumors about the show. One is that Boone (Ian Somerhalder) is not dead, though he seemed to die at the end of season one, and that the show's creators, J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof, are planning to bring him back in season three. Another is that Jack is the only one actually alive and that the series is based on his hallucinations. "What can I tell you [and] can't tell you about Lost?" Grillo-Marxuach said. "At this point, I cannot confirm or deny any rumors. There are so many of those out there, and thank God for that. If people are that excited about the show, well, I'm pretty happy with that." 
He added: "I guess I could tell you no, yes, maybe or whatever to just about anything that has been said about Lost. But the fun of the show is to take the journey and to see how all the mysteries unravel." Lost returns in the fall. Lost season one DVD available in September.

MEYER TINKERS ON ROBOT CHICKEN
Breckin Meyer said that he's having a blast working with pal and fellow actor Seth Green on his Cartoon Network stop-action animated show, Robot Chicken. "It's great to watch Seth be all serious and official while we're doing it," Meyer said. "I mean, we go way back, so I don't take him seriously at all, especially when he gives me directions." 
Robot Chicken is a quarter-hour series consisting of brief, animated satiric vignettes, many voiced by well-known actors such as Meyer. Meyer and Green worked together in both Josie and the Pussycats and Can't Hardly Wait, which were co-directed by Meyer's wife, Deborah Kaplan. Green and Meyer were also in Rat Race, where Green discovered Meyer's wry sense of humor. Meyer is joining the writing team of Robot Chicken in its second season. "The show doesn't have a robot or a chicken, but we're having a great time making fun of everything we can make fun of," Meyer said. "We're getting away with a lot." 
Robot Chicken spoofs supervillains and washed-up TV personalities and pokes fun at everything from Quentin Tarantino movies to Star Trek. Meyer is a common voice on the show, having appeared in half a dozen episodes. Guest voices have included Macaulay Culkin, Burt Reynolds, Mark Hamill, Scarlett Johannson, Ryan Seacrest, Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard and Ming-Na. 
"When you're working with friends, it's a whole different thing," Meyer said. "It's such a blast, and you're comfortable. You don't worry about what the director is going to think. With Seth, he directs all the recording sessions, and he'll say, 'Uh, that's pretty good. Can you do it again and you bring it down a little bit?' And I'm like, 'You can go f--k yourself!' We have fun. It's about kids that have watched way too many movies. Sneaking into way too many movies, that's what it's all about." 
New episodes of Robot Chicken air Sundays as part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block. Meyer will also appear alongside Lindsay Lohan in Herbie: Fully Loaded, which opens June 24.
movienews movienews  Silver Screen  movienews movienews

Regent Springs ETERNAL Date
     Regent Releasing and here! Films have set a September 16 date for the limited U.S. release of ETERNAL, a Canadian-produced modernization of the Countess Bathory story. (This is a different movie from the Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy film BATHORY, which is currently in negotiations, as reported last week.) Written and directed by Wilhelm Liebenberg and Federico Sanchez, the film follows a detective whose search for his missing wife leads him to cross paths with a contemporary Blood Countess.

Edward Furlong, Vampire Hunter in SUN
     Edward Furlong will play the vampire hunter Daly in KISS OF THE SUN for Green Valley Entertainment. Michelle Borth (THE HILLSIDE STRANGLER) will co-star as Katya, a bloodsucker obsessed with the sun who recreates it via virtual reality. She falls in love with Daly, then finds out that he’s her descendant and joins him to try to destroy her master. Short film and commercials veteran Jon Hill directs the movie, set to shoot this month in Miami and Bucharest, from a script by producer Micheal Valverde, based on the short story Virtual Day by Stephen L. Antczak from his anthology Daydreams Undertaken. Furlong’s been busy in the genre lately, appearing in Asylum’s INTERMEDIO, Dimension’s upcoming THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER and the Christian-lit thriller THE VISITATION.

CHAINSAW Prequel GETS a Director
     Jonathan Liebesman (Darkness Falls) is going back in time, signing on to direct the as of yet untitled Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel that Platinum Dunes is producing for New Line Cinema.
     As in the first movie, the story follows a group of kids who run afoul of chainsaw-wielding psycho Leatherface and his demented family. The story will reveal Leatherface's origins. 
     The script was written by Sheldon Turner (The Crow) with a rewrite by David Schow. Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller are producing via Platinum Dunes.

Lovecraft film THING ON THE DOORSTEP wraps
     Seattle-based Maelstron Productions has announced that it has complete principal photography on its feature adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft tale The Thing on the Doorstep. Directed by Eric Morgret from a script by K.L. Young, the film begins with Miskatonic University primitive religions professor Dan Upton (J.D. Lloyd) shooting his best friend, Edward Derby (Erick Robertson), in the halls of Arkham Asylum. Interrogated by police, Upton relates how the two met a beautiful, mysterious student named Asenath Waite (Angela Grillo), who led Edward down the road to black magic and madness.
     The movie, whose full title is STRANGE AEONS: THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP, was filmed on locations ranging from a mansion owned by game creator/Wizards of the Coast veteran Jesper Myrfors to the cemetery seen in the opening credits of SIX FEET UNDER. Maelstrom previously adapted Thing as a short film, currently available from the site www.maelstromproductions.com on DVD, with filmmakers’ commentary, a blooper reel, the trailer and a short spoof called THE LOVE CRAFT. The THING feature will be ready for release this fall, and Morgret and Young are planning more H.P. Lovecraft flicks under the Strange Aeons banner.

Why Johansson Bailed On M:I 3
     Scarlett Johansson said that she opted out of this summer's Mission: Impossible 3 in favor of Woody Allen's next movie, an as-yet-unnamed comedy. "We just had a scheduling conflict," Johansson said during a news conference on May 25 to promote her upcoming movie The Island. "When you have a big production like that, they can't move stuff around that easily. I wanted to work with Woody, so, unfortunately, that was a casualty, I guess." 
     Twenty-year-old Johansson was initially linked to the third Mission: Impossible film, starring Tom Cruise and directed by Alias creator J.J. Abrams. But she was surprised and delighted to be asked by Woody Allen to star in his dramatic thriller Match Point with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (who, coincidentally, has just been cast in M:I 3), then went on to shoot The Island with director Michael Bay and co-star Ewan McGregor. After that, she was supposed to work with Cruise in Mission: Impossible 3, but Allen asked her to be in his next film. 
     When she told Allen she was heading off to do a Michael Bay film, she said the New York director squinted and said, "Who?" Johansson acknowledged that Allen is a rather insulated guy and a film snob, but she added: "He did tell me, 'Oh, I like science fiction.' So we'll see if we can get him to the premiere [of The Island]."

Michael Chiklis Joins Lucy Liu in Rise
     Michael Chiklis is set to join Lucy Liu in Rise, the Sebastian Gutierrez-directed horror thriller that will shoot next month. Ghost House Pictures, a partnership between Mandate Pictures, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, is mounting the project. Chiklis, who stars in the FX series The Shield, will play a haunted police detective whose daughter was killed by a strange cult. Rise is a supernatural thriller in which a female reporter wakes up in a morgue to find herself a member of the undead. She vows revenge against the sect that put her there and hunts them down.

Medusa Seduces WICKER MAN
     Medusa has signed an all-rights deal for the upcoming remake of The Wicker Man starring Nicholas Cage, directed by Nurse Betty helmer Neil LaBute. The remake will see Cage as a distraught father out to rescue his daughter from an island ruled by women who want to use her in some kind of sacrifice. Medusa will distribute the film in Italy and other regions, no word on a U.S. release as of yet. The film is still in the pre-production stage.

Alias Duo Finds Time For 2:22
     Writing and producing team Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orc will produce 2:22 from a script by Todd Stein for DreamWorks. The film concerns a tortured artist to whom strange things start occurring at the same place and time every day. 
     Kurtzman and Orci are writers and producers on ABC's Alias. They are also in partnership with DreamWorks on several high-profile projects as writers, such as this summer's The Island and Transformers, both directed by Michael Bay. The duo also wrote all of the Mission: Impossible films, including the third installment, now in pre-production at Paramount under the direction of their Alias boss J.J. Abrams.

SYLVESTER STALLONE IN THE POE HOUSE
     Sylvester Stallone has made a deal with Nu Image/Millennium Films to write and direct his long-mooted film on the life of Gothic author Edgar Allan Poe. Stallone finished a script for the movie, simply titled POE, in 2002, and is now set to start shooting in Europe this fall. Robert Downey Jr. is Stallone’s favorite to play the author of The Pit and the Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher and other classic horror tales, but no confirmed casting has been reported yet. POE will join the latest wave of films inspired by the writer and his works, including THE LIGHTHOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD and a group of Ulli Lommel-directed features.

GRUDGE scripter entering the CRAWLSPACE
     Paramount, which already has remakes of THE CRAZIES and THE BLOB in the works, is developing a new feature-film adaptation of Herbert Lieberman’s novel Crawlspace, which was previously turned into a 1972 TV movie by director John Newland (DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK.) THE GRUDGE’s Stephen Susco (currently also working on yet another remake, Columbia’s PROM NIGHT) is scripting the update of Lieberman’s story, in which a couple invite a young repairman to stay for dinner—and he ends up inhabiting the crawlspace in the basement and begins to terrorize them. The movie will be produced by Evolution Entertainment through its Twisted Pictures banner, which was also responsible for SAW, the recently wrapped CATACOMBS and the currently shooting SAW 2.

Barker, Saralegui Scare Up Films
     Novelist-director Clive Barker has partnered with producer Jorge Saralegui in the Midnight Picture Show, a venture meant to scare up two horror films per year. Most will be based on the prolific author's short stories published in the six volumes of The Books of Blood, or on his original ideas.
     Lakeshore Entertainment has been set to finance The Midnight Meat Train, an adaptation of the Barker story about a Gotham-based photographer's effort to track down "the subway butcher," a search that leads to an unholy secret. The pic was adapted by Jeff Buhler and will be directed by Patrick Tatopoulous, a horror vet who has done extensive creature and production design work. Lions Gate will distribute and production will start in the fall.
     Barker and Saralegui made an earlier alliance with Armada Pictures to finance The Plague, a Hal Masonberg/Teal Minton-scripted fright film that will be directed by Masonberg this summer. The film concerns an apocalypse that causes kids to lapse into vegetative states, only to awaken years later bent on murdering their parents.
     Barker and Saralegui have set Anthony DiBlasi, an exec at Barker's Seraphim Films label, to adapt the Barker short Pig Blood Blues, and John Heffernan to draft New York Resurrection, from an original idea by Barker. They hope these movies will be made in 2006.
     Next up will be the Barker short Age of Desire, scripted by Charles Canzoneri, along with Revelation, a picture that Lori Lakin is writing, based on her own idea. The venture comes at a time when modest-budget horror pics, mostly remakes, continue to proliferate and prosper.
     "We hope our advantage will come from my own body of work of really intense horror stories that are original," Barker said. "We will not be reheating old films, freshening up old ideas. ... Even forgetting the sequels we hope to make, I've got enough here for 20 movies of varying budget scales."
     Since this is the Barker who hatched the gory Hellraiser and Candyman franchises, the teenage PG-13 set shouldn't expect him to cater to their lucrative demo.
     "Jorge and I want to wind up with a library of pictures that will reflect my sensibilities, which are decidedly R rated," Barker said. "In fact, the moment I make a PG-13 horror movie, you can take me out and shoot me. Our desire is to leave you feeling that we're a little crazy."
     The films will be exec produced by Seraphim's Joe Daley and DiBlasi. Barker will polish every script. They will set up Pig Blood Blues and New York Resurrection when the scripts are ready later this year, and hope to form a long-term alliance with a financier that will permit them to own or partly control the film's negative.
     "We will build toward that goal, but first we have to prove ourselves in the marketplace," Saralegui said.

Tarantino and Rodriguez Grind Up the Weinsteins
     Quentin Tarantino, whose Pulp Fiction helped turn Miramax Films into a powerhouse, and Robert Rodriguez, whose Spy Kids movies have been a lucrative franchise for Miramax's genre arm Dimension, are teaming up to make a film for Bob and Harvey Weinstein's new Weinstein Co. The film is scheduled for a spring 2006 release as part of a rapidly evolving release slate, further details of which the Weinsteins announced Wednesday. 
     Tarantino and Rodriguez will each write and direct a 60-minute horror film, and the two films will be packaged together under the overall title Grind House. The film, which is planned for a spring 2006 release, also will include its own trailers, bonus materials and added extras from other filmmakers that will be packaged together between the two horror flicks in a tribute to the old, big-city movie houses like those on New York's 42nd Street that earned the moniker grindhouses for programming genre pics back to back. 
     An aficionado of grindhouse, Tarantino sampled grindhouse genres in his recent Kill Bill films. He said Grind House could be the first in a series of films. In a statement, the Weinsteins said, "We couldn't imagine anything more exciting than a film being made together by the two godfathers of our companies, Quentin and Robert."

Lucas Approves Indiana Jones 4 Script 
     Screenwriter Jeff Nathanson's scripts for Indiana Jones 4 and Rush Hour 3 are moving in opposite directions. While it was previously reported that Chris Tucker was expected to sign a $20 million deal which would fast-track New Line's Rush Hour 3, the actor ended up not doing so.
     Meanwhile, Nathanson's draft for Indiana Jones 4 has apparently met with the approval of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. But before Paramount can move forward, Harrison Ford still has to sign off on the script, and he hasn't yet read it.
     With Star Wars off his plate, Lucas recently summoned Nathanson to his Bay Area headquarters, where they went over the draft. The screenwriter also got notes from Spielberg, who brought him into the mix after working with him on Catch Me if You Can and Terminal.
     Scheduling Indiana Jones 4 for a 2006 start will be tricky for Spielberg, who next heads to Europe to shoot his untitled drama about the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics for Universal and DreamWorks, and is expected to follow in January with a DreamWorks film about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, to star Liam Neeson.

Sid Haig Talks HOUSE/DEAD 2, New Jack Hill Film
     Fan favorite/DEVIL’S REJECTS star Sid Haig talked about his upcoming projects in a recent interview. He gave some details on an upcoming sequel he appears in: HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2: DEAD AIM. “I play a professor who makes a very botched attempt at re-animating people and basically winds up in the soup,” laughs the easygoing genre icon. “I am a bad guy in the movie, who just goes out to find dead bodies—and if there are any lying around, he just helps himself.”
     Haig agrees with those who found the original, Uwe Boll-directed HOUSE something less than a transcendent cinematic experience. “I’ll tell you the truth—I couldn’t watch it all,” he says. “But from what I can see—and I only worked three days on the sequel—it is a much better film, with lots of action, excellent makeup; it’s pretty scary.” Thankfully, any fans expecting a rehash of the much-maligned original are advised by Haig that the Mike Hurst-directed HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 (which may go theatrical, according to one source) could not be further removed from its predecessor. “Yes, it is a lot different from the first,” Haig reveals. “And, just like how THE DEVIL’S REJECTS originally started out as HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES 2, but immediately dropped the HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES part, I have a feeling the same thing might happen to HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2. They might just go with the DEAD AIM part.”
     In further exciting news, Haig mentions that he does not rule out a return to working with legendary director Jack Hill, who guided the actor in such B-movie classics as SPIDER BABY and FOXY BROWN. Hill is currently seeking to make a comeback with a fantasy-based project entitled THE LAST STATION. “Jack sent me the script,” the actor reveals, “and like all of Jack’s films, it is great. Hopefully we can work it out, because I’d love to do it. I haven’t made a movie with Jack for a long time; the last film we did together was COFFY.”

Abbey Rejects Da Vinci Code Filming
     Producers of Columbia Pictures' The Da Vinci Code, based on Dan Brown's bestselling and controversial book, were not allowed to film in Britain's Westminster Abbey after church officials denounced the book as "theologically unsound."
     940-year-old London Abbey, where British monarchs are crowned, features in the international murder mystery by U.S. author Dan Brown which has been condemned by the Vatican and Anglican Church leaders for distorting the Christian message. The novel alleges Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children, whereas Christians are taught that Christ never married and was childless when he was crucified. 
     "Although a real page turner, The Da Vinci code is theologically unsound and we cannot commend or endorse the contentious and wayward religious and historic suggestions made in the book -- nor its views of Christianity and the New Testament," the Abbey said in a statement. "It would therefore be inappropriate to film scenes from the book here." 
     Last week officials at Lincoln Cathedral in eastern England said they had agreed to allow their building to be used by the makers of the forthcoming film, which stars Tom Hanks as the book's central character Professor Robert Langdon. Directed by Ron Howard and also starring Jean Reno, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina and Paul Bettany, the anticipated movie hits theaters on May 19, 2006

Milian Feels Pulse
     Christina Milian (Be Cool) has been cast opposite Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) in the Japanese horror remake Pulse. The film, based on writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Kairo, will be directed by newcomer Jim Sonzero based on an adaptation by Wes Craven and Ray Wright. 
      Pulse centers on a group of college students who must stop a destructive force after one of them unwittingly pirates a strange wireless signal that opens a doorway to a terrifying evil. Milian will play Bell's best friend, a street-smart party girl who uses the Internet as a dating tool. Ian Somerhalder (Lost), Samm Levine (Freaks and Geeks) and Rick Gonzalez (War of the Worlds) also star in the film, set to begin shooting this month in Romania.

More details on zombie film FIDO
      Principal photography is scheduled to commence next Monday on FIDO. The Anagram Pictures film stars Henry Czerny (CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER), Carrie-Anne Moss (THE MATRIX), Peter Stormare (CONSTANTINE) and Tim Blake Nelson, and is “set in a small 1950s town where rotting zombies deliver the mail,” according to reports. Some further story details have now emerged of this independent horror-comedy, directed by Andrew Currie from a script he wrote with Robert Chomiack and Dennis Heaton from the latter’s story:
     FIDO details the effects of Earth’s passage through a cloud of space dust, which results in the dead arising from their graves. In an attempt to quell the mayhem, a patented “domestication collar” is invented by a company called ZomCom, helping society integrate the zombie hordes, who quickly become “gardeners, milkmen, butlers and even pets.” A boy named Timmy Robinson befriends a ghoul that his mom buys to help around the house—and then has to defend his new pal when the creature’s collar goes wonky and it begins reverting to its flesheating ways. Produced by Mary Anne Waterhouse and Blake Corbet, FIDO is aiming for a 2006 release.
 
STRANGER Casting News
     Camilla Belle has been cast as the lead in Screen Gems' remake of When a Stranger Calls, to be directed by Simon West. Shooting is scheduled for mid-July.
     Jake Wade Wall penned the remake of the 1979 Columbia Pictures cult horror film, which starred Carol Kane as a high school student traumatized while babysitting by a caller who repeatedly asks, "Have you checked the children lately?" After notifying the police, she is told that the calls are coming from inside the house. Belle will star in the role played by Kane.
     Belle stars opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in IFC's The Ballad of Jack and Rose. She also stars in Ari Posin's The Chumscrubber, with Glenn Close and Ralph Fiennes, which premiered at Sundance this year. Belle just wrapped The Quiet, an indie film also starring Elisha Cuthbert and Edie Falco.

Exorcist Author Sues Morgan Creek
     The Exorcist author William Blatty has sued Morgan Creek Productions for allegedly failing to pay him an agreed-upon fee for a recent sequel to the franchise. Blatty, in a suit filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks $750,000, the amount he was reportedly guaranteed if the studio made a second sequel to the original 1973 release. According to Blatty's attorneys, payment for sequels was covered in an October 1996 settlement agreement, which called for a $930,000 payment for a first sequel and a $750,000 payment for each subsequent release. Blatty contends that he was paid for the first sequel, 2004's Exorcist: The Beginning, but not the second, the recently released Dominion: A Prequel to the Exorcist. Morgan Creek could not be reached by the press for comment.

SIN 2 Sets January Shoot
     Director Robert Rodriguez said that he and graphic novelist Frank Miller plan to begin shooting Sin City 2 starting in January 2006, even though a cast and a script are not yet finalized. 
     "Let's see, Sin City 2 we'll be starting to shoot that in January, which means our preproduction will start in February," Rodriguez joked during interviews for his upcoming children's film The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D. He pointed out that he had no script for the first movie, but instead used Miller's actual graphic novels as storyboards and dialogue when shooting. He said he expected to do the same this time around, because the dialogue in the books is so concise it doesn't need to be rewritten. 
     "We will shoot A Dame to Kill For next, and maybe something else," Rodriguez said, referring to the second volume of Miller's Sin City series. "And I don't have the cast set, not yet." 
     Right now, Rodriguez said that he's working on the special DVD edition of the first Sin City, which is scheduled for release just before Christmas. He said the DVD will divide the movie into its three graphic-novel stories, with some extra footage. "You'll be able to see each story separately," he said. "You can watch Yellow Bastard, Big Fat Kill or Hard Goodbye, and there's a lot of behind-the-scenes featurettes being planned." One of his regular inclusions on his DVDs is a recipe, and this time he revealed that it will be Sin City breakfast tacos. "Too many people go to the dark side and go to the store and get store-bought tacos," he said. "This is my grandmothers' recipe with flour tortillas. The DVD will have a lot of cool stuff."
 

Now it’s PIRANHA Being Remade (Again)
     Chiller Films, a new outfit set up by Mark Canton’s Atmosphere Films and Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media, has set as its first project a new version of PIRANHA. The 1978 Joe Dante film was already remade as a 1995 cable movie by original producer Roger Corman; the latest edition is being scripted by Chuck Russell (who previously redid THE BLOB in 1988), based on previous drafts by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger and the ’78 film’s script by John Sayles. Russell may also direct the movie, but is waiting until he finishes writing to make that decision.
     The exact tack of the updated story hasn’t been confirmed, but a clue can be found in what the trade-paper Variety mistakenly reported as the original PIRANHA’s plot: “…a prehistoric strain of the feisty fish is unleashed by a subterranean tremor in Arizona’s Lake Havasu, just as the college crowd shows up to frolic in the lake.” Canton and Kavanaugh were among the producers of George A. Romero’s upcoming LAND OF THE DEAD, and formed Chiller to make $20-million-and-under horror features. “We want to take people back to a horror classic which was an enormous success in its day,” Canton told the trade, “but which will benefit from updated technology.”

The Ouija Says: Here Comes Another Asian Remake
     Producer Samuel Hadida announced that he has acquired the remake rights to the South Korean film Bunshinsaba (original English title Ouija Board). The new English-language remake of the film will be titled The Spell (still with me?)
     The story follows a teenage girl who moves with her family to a small village from a big city. She soon finds small town life is not so easy when she is bullied by her classmates. As the bullies become more brutal she decides to put a curse on the girls tormenting her, but she is shocked to discover her curse actually works, bringing about horrors far beyond her imagination.
     Known as South Korea's king of horror, Director Byeong-ki Ahn laid the foundation for the genre with his hit debut film Nightmare (2000), about a fraternity serial killer. His second project Phone (2002), centers on a reporter who changes her cell phone number only to find the new number connects her to the dead. Phone set a record as the first horror film to generate over US$15,000,000 at the South Korean box office. Phone has since become an international hit. Bunshinsaba is his third horror picture.

Ratner Replaces X-Men's Vaughn
     Twentieth Century Fox and Marvel Entertainment have hired Brett Ratner (RUSH HOUR) to replace Matthew Vaughn as the director of the third X-Men movie. The hiring keeps the film on track for an August start date and a Memorial Day weekend 2006 opening date. 
     Vaughn (Layer Cake) dropped out last week, with the official reason being that the director didn't want to uproot his family. But it now appears the exit followed his growing apprehension about taking on such a large assignment in his second outing. 
     Ratner, a comic-book enthusiast, was among the helmers considered to direct the first X-Men before the job went to Bryan Singer. Ratner spent a full year developing Superman Returns, the film that ultimately prompted Singer to drop out of directing X-Men 3. 
     The X-Men 3 budget is locked, and Fox and Marvel consider the script by Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg to be at least as strong as that of the first two installments, according to reports. The original returning stars have been signed, and the cast is bolstered by Kelsey Grammer, Vinnie Jones and Maggie Grace (Lost), who just came aboard as new mutant characters.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE Possible Again
     After weeks of rumors that Paramount was considering canceling Mission: Impossible 3, starring Tom Cruise, despite having spent millions of dollars in preproduction, the studio formally greenlit it on Tuesday, saying that the movie will start shooting on July 18. The announcement reportedly followed a week of intense talks between Paramount chief Brad Grey and Cruise over the film's budget, which was said to have soared over $150 million, Cruise's own demand for a 30-percent cut of the gross, and his recent odd behavior. Studio execs were concerned about his antics on Oprah, which resulted in stills from the show landing on the front pages of numerous newspapers, his public verbal assault against Brooke Shields, and the fact that he is using the WAR OF THE WORLDS press tour to talk more about Scientology than the movie he is supposed to be promoting. Cruise agreed to at least a 10-percent cut in the film's budget, the elimination of some exotic locations, and "modifications on his payday."

28 DAYS LATER Team Lets the SUNSHINE In
     Director Danny Boyle, screenwriter Alex Garland and producer Andrew Macdonald will follow up 28 DAYS LATER with the sci-fi thriller SUNSHINE for Fox Searchlight. The story is described as being about an astronaut team trying to find out what happened to a previous space crew; no explicitly horrific elements have been described yet, but then the first reports about DAYS didn’t mention the zombies either. DAYS star Cillian Murphy will be back to star, and the filmmakers are in final negotiations for Michelle Yeoh (CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON) and Chris Evans (FANTASTIC FOUR) to join him; shooting is scheduled to take place in Britain this summer. Boyle, Garland and Macdonald are also continuing to develop the sequel 28 WEEKS LATER, with Rowan Joffe currently working on the script.

Goyer Flashes Back To Origins
     Writer/director David S. Goyer said that he's taking the story of The Flash back to its beginnings in his upcoming movie based on the venerable DC Comics series. "It will be another origin story, yes. Well, yes and no," Goyer (co-writer of Batman Begins) said cryptically in an interview. "It's going to be very different from any other superhero movie coming out or different from any you've ever seen." 
     Goyer, who is currently writing the Flash script, added that it's too early to discuss casting yet, though reports have linked Goyer's Blade: Trinity star Ryan Reynolds to the project. 
     Charles Roven, who is one of the producers on Batman Begins, will perform the same job on The Flash, along with Goyer. For his part, Roven said fans seem happy so far with Goyer's take on the Batman origin story, and said The Flash will tell the story of aspiring athlete Jay Garrick, who acquires the ability to move at superhuman speeds after a chemical alteration. The film is based on the comic-book character was created in 1939 by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert. 
     Roven added that it will be important to avoid crossing over into any other DC Comics storylines that may have been addressed in movies already. "We obviously talked about [the] aspect that we don't want to cover any ground already covered by any other comic book heroes," Roven said.

Jackman Deal Moves Wolverine Forward 
     Hugh Jackman has made a deal at 20th Century Fox for a spin-off movie from the X-MEN franchise featuring his character, Wolverine. After X-MEN 3 wraps, Jackman will star in the David Benioff (TROY) scripted WOLVERINE.
     Of the recent replacement of Matthew Vaughn with Brett Ratner at the helm of X3, Jackman says "It got to be a roller-coaster ride there, but I wasn't worried because the script is so strong... Brett has come in with a lot of enthusiasm and full understanding of the franchise."

Long Gets Geeky For Sasquatch
     Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers) said that he looks like a geek these days because he's shooting The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang with the guys who made Napoleon Dynamite. Long has a mullet haircut, glasses and an attempt at some thin facial hair for the film, about a group of guys who find a giant footprint in a small town and drum up a story about a Bigfoot roaming the nearby hills. 
     "I'm playing this crazy little redneck name Zurk," Long said in an interview. "Because finding a footprint isn't quite enough, I take it one step further and come up with the Sasquatch turd. They crap, and so I have to think scientifically about it. And that's my character." 
     Long has appeared in both Jeepers Creepers movies, Galaxy Quest and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. He plays Lindsay Lohan's love interest in Herbie: Fully Loaded, which opens June 24. 
     Long said he tested his geekiness at a recent Def Leppard concert. "I really felt like I belonged," he said. "The other guys would look at me and nod." 
     He added that the younger generation of kids still recognize him from Jeepers Creepers horror movies. "Yeah, a lot of little kids are like, 'You lost your eye!' And I'm like, 'You're 4 years old. What are you doing watching that? It's R-rated!' Kids love that movie." 
     Sasquatch is written and directed by Tim Skousen and is being produced by Kevin Spacey and Jared Hess, who wrote and directed Napoleon Dynamite.

PUNISHER director to guide DARKSIDERS
     Jonathan Hensleigh has assumed the director’s chair for DARKSIDERS, the long in the works vampire movie for New Line. After many years writing big-ticket action scripts like DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE and ARMAGEDDON, Hensleigh made his debut at the helm with last year’s THE PUNISHER and is also working on the killer-ants remake THE NAKED JUNGLE at Paramount. DARKSIDERS, written by Tom S. Parker and Jim Jennewein, is about an FBI special ops team comprised of captured bloodsuckers. David S. Goyer was going to direct at one point before opting to take on BLADE: TRINITY, and David Nutter (DISTURBING BEHAVIOR) was subsequently attached as well.

Mindfire Enters THE DARKROOM
     Busy producer Mark Altman of Mindfire Entertainment/CFQ Films, who has wrapped ALL SOULS DAY, HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 and ROOM 6 all within the last 18 months, has a new film before the cameras in LA: a serial-killer thriller called THE DARKROOM. Written by Mike Hurst and Altman and directed by Hurst (who also helmed by HOD2 and ROOM 6), THE DARKROOM, according to the official synopsis, “is the story of a nameless amnesiac man who has spent over a decade in a mental institution in hopes of remembering anything about his past. When he is subjected to an experimental drug that fails to help, he suffers a violent hallucination and makes his escape during an altercation between guards and another patient.
     “Arriving in the city, he befriends Stanley, a nerdy 15-year-old boy, who lives with his alcoholic mother and his stepfather Bob, while suffering from horrific visions of a terrible creature committing brutal acts on those around him. Realizing that all is not right with his stepdad, who disappears almost every night, Stanley enlists the man’s help to investigate Bob’s hidden secrets, leading them to his locked darkroom inside their home—which may not only hold the clue to Stanley’s questions about his father, but the man’s identity as well.”
     “THE DARKROOM is very dark,” Altman explained. “It’s our SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. We’ve been very happy with Mike’s work on the last few films, so he went right into DARKROOM while he was in post on ROOM 6.”

Lead Actors Named For SAW Duo's SILENCE
     Ryan Kwanten and Amber Valletta will star in SILENCE, director James Wan and his writing partner Leigh Whannell's follow-up to SAW for Universal. Kwanten plays a man whose wife has been murdered and who returns to his hometown to find out why; Valletta plays his father's trophy wife, who is actually quite malevolent (aren't they all?), and scary ventriloquism is also a major plot element. Like the filmmakers, Kwanten is an Australian, and has been previously visible in the U.S. on the TV series SUMMERLAND; former model Valletta's credits include WHAT LIES BENEATH.

Nine Actors Cast in HILLS HAVE EYES Remake
     A whole bunch of actors have been confirmed for the HILLS HAVE EYES remake to be directed by Alexandre Aja (HAUTE TENSION aka HIGH TENSION). Aaron Stanford (X2's Pyro) and Vinessa Shaw (HOCUS POCUS) will play Doug and Lynne Wood, the young couple portrayed by Martin Speer and Dee Wallace Stone in the original; Ted Levine (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) is Big Bob Carter and Kathleen Quinlan (EVENT HORIZON) is his wife Ethel (Russ Grieve and Virginia Vincent originally); Emilie de Ravin (LOST) is Brenda Carter and Dan Byrd is Bobby Carter (Susan Lanier and Robert Houston originally). With perennial villain Levine as one of the heroes, who do they have playing the murderous hills family? So far, Robert Joy as Lizard, along with Billy Drago (another longtime bad-guy performer); Tom Bower is also in the cast.
     The new HILLS, which Fox Searchlight is producing and will release next year, was written by Aja and his HAUTE TENSION partner Gregory Levasseur and is produced by original HILLS director Wes Craven and producer Peter Locke, along with Marianne Maddalena. The shoot will take place in Morocco (!) beginning this month.

Five More Set Sail on Poseidon 
     Mia Maestro, Freddy Rodriguez, Kevin Dillon, Jacinda Barrett and Jimmy Bennett have joined the cast of Wolfgang Petersen's disaster film remake The Poseidon Adventure for Warner Bros. Pictures. Maestro will play a stowaway, and Rodriguez a member of the crew. Dillon portrays a blowhard poker player. Barrett and Bennett play a mother-son team trapped on the capsized cruise ship.
     Shooting is set to begin June 18 on the Warners lot. Already cast are Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Emmy Rossum, Mike Vogel and Josh Lucas.

Fishburne Signs on for Mission: Impossible 
     Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix trilogy) will star in Paramount's Mission: Impossible 3. He joins a cast that includes Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Michelle Monaghan and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The second sequel is to be directed by J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias.) Fishburne will play Cruise's mentor, while Hoffman will play the villain.
     M:I-3 is set to start filming July 18 in Italy and will shoot on location throughout the world for a May 5, 2006 release date.

Resident Evil Franchise Shambles On
POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THIS ITEM: I’m not sure if the following item should be considered a spoiler or not, but if you want to play it safe as regards the plots of the next two Resident Evil movies, don’t read it. In a nutshell, it says that there will be two more movies in the series.
     Germany's Constantin Film and Paul W.S. Anderson are ramping up preparations for a fourth edition of their successful zombie franchise Resident Evil before the third film in the series has even begun shooting. 
     Constantin head of production Martin Moskowicz said in Cannes that the third film, Resident Evil: Afterlife, will shift locations to shoot in Australia, with principle photography planned for November or December. 
     Resident Evil 4 will be set in Tokyo, and Constantin is looking to shoot the film in Japan. Afterlife will be set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun with mutant zombies. It will play in the Nevada desert with the Aussie outback standing in for the American wasteland. In the final reel, the action will shift to Japan, setting up the fourth edition. (This is what I wasn’t sure would be a spoiler or not. Perhaps knowing that the action shifts to Japan at the end will turn out to be a major plot point – who knows at this point with so little information.)
     Milla Jovovich is set to reprise her signature role as zombie slayer extraordinaire Alice, though no formal deal has been signed yet. Paul W.S. Anderson is finishing the script for the third edition. Anderson directed the first Resident Evil and penned the sequel Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

DAVA’S DELVINGS  

   Dava is taking a break this month and passed the TORCH…pun intended….to Jim Childs, for a review on the new movie – Fantastic Four –
   The Fantastic Four movie opened July 8, 2005, with Michael Chiklis as “the Thing”, Ioan Gruffudd as “Mr. Fantastic”, Jessica Alba (hubba hubba) as “the Invisible Woman”, Chris Evans as the “Human Torch”, and Julian Mcmahon as “Doctor Doom”. A 20th Century Fox/Marvel Studios productions, this was directed by Tim Story. 
   What can I say but “Funtastic!” (pun intended). I’ve been a fan and critic of the Fantastic Four (FF) since its conception in 1961 by Stan “the Man” Lee and Jack “the King” Kirby. (Jack was the king because at one time he was drawing 5 or 6 Marvel titles). I followed faithfully the 60’s cut and paste styled animated TV show panel by panel from my comic books. Those were the days. Then there were the other cartoon versions of FF over the next 30 years.  
   I also stood in line and spent good money for the 1994 Roger Corman “Unreleased” version of the FF movie. I found out later it never was supposed to be released, but was just a ploy by the then current owners to hold onto the movie rights a little while longer.
   Still the newest version of FF mania is a good effort by Fox/Marvel to spin off another franchise. For likeability of characters this movies is way above Daredevil and Electra almost, but not quite reaching Spiderman. 
   The comic book premise of four friends going into space to test a new warp drive and coming back to Earth revitalized by cosmic rays was changed a bit. The movie version of the origin is a little more convoluted as it a combination of a number of redo’s in the Marvel universe. Anyone heard of Hero’s Reborn? Marvel Knights? Or the Ultimate FF? 
   This movie has the heroes & villains powers associated with the Air, Water, Fire Rock & Metal. (ala Ultimate FF). It is pretty amazing and this newest version doesn’t slow down the storyline for first timers but leaves some M.M.M. diehards a little miffed. You will walk away wondering if this wasn’t a ploy by Victor Von Doom to gain real physical powers.
   The special effects had me having flashbacks to the first two Superman movies, by today’s standards they were just par. Mainly because they were trying to keep the CGI efforts down when they worked with the Thing and yet had it flying for Torch and flowing for Reed. Over 900 special effect shots in all, but not like other movies. 
   I suspect due to budget we don’t see any big ‘star’ drawing power. No Patrick Stewart, Ben Affleck or Hugh Jackman. The stars, Chiklis, currently in “the Shield”, Julian McMahon in “Nip/Tuck and Jessica Alba, are all TV stars. So other than the story where is the draw? If I had wanted to watch TV stars, I would stay home and watch cable…but I digress. 
   I found the dialog and family banter/interplay keeping very much with Stan Lees writing.  Ben and Johnny had some great interaction and were very natural together. Much like what I had come to expect in the comics. This made the movie much more pleasurable. Oh, and for those that haven’t seen the movie, a spoiler here. Stan Lee has a small part in each of his movies – in this one he is the mailman in the Baxter Building. Watch for him. And a  bit of trivia - inspired by his role on "Nip/Tuck" (2003) it was Julian McMahon's idea to have Victor's scars sealed by surgical staples.
   The true stand out in the movie full of the TV stars was Chiklis as The Thing. Chiklis, who we found can act through layers of latex and evoke emotion. He showed us a character that went from man to rock like and though he saved people, he couldn’t get them to see past his features. Then when he found he still had a place to go have a beer, he could handle it. It was very well done. Maybe this was because he was the only of the 4 to have read the comics.
   So if you haven’t seen the new Fantastic Four movie, come on…come on… we need your bucks in the seats to keep the franchises going so we can get something like ‘Iron Man’ with Johnny Depp. (Now there would be star power!)
   So to rate the FF movie as an amusement park ride, a rollercoaster with a corkscrew being a ten and a merry go round being a one...I’d rate this ride a seven. It is one of those rides that pulls you up around 20 stories in the air and while you are pinned to your seat, suddenly the floor drops out leaving you holding on breathless for awhile.  Nuff said.
True believer - Jim Childs 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

farewellsfarewellsfarewells Good bye farewellsfarewellsfarewells

Robert Clarke, one of the ICS’s favorite actors who may have had the most genre credits of all the 50’s heroes, has died. Born in Oklahoma City in 1920, he acted at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Wisconsin before heading to California to try to break into the movies. He managed to become a $100-a-week contract player with RKO and debuted in the falcon in hollywood in 1944. His imaginative films include the body snatcher, bedlam, zombies on broadway, a game of death, dick tracy meets gruesome, the man from planet x, the incredible petrified world, the astounding she monster, beyond the time barrier, the hideous sun demon (produced & directed) and from the earth to the moon (narrator).
He was also in such non-genre films as lady luck, san quentin, code of the west, return of the badmen, champagne for caeser, blades of The musketeers, tales of robin hood, sword of venus and the helen morgan story.
More recently he appeared in the films of some of his fans; Wade Williams, Ted Newsome, Gary Don Rhodes and Fred Olen Ray.
Clarke’s autobiography To "B" or Not to "B": A Film Actor's Odyssey was published in 1996, co-authored by film historian Tom Weaver. He was 85.
 

Lane Smith, the actor who portrayed Richard Nixon in the 1989 docudrama The Final Days and apoplectic Daily Planet editor Perry White in the 1990s television series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, has died at age 69.
Some of his films are maidstone (debut), rooster cogburn, network, prince of the city, places in the heart, air america, my cousin vinny, the mighty ducks and the legend of bagger vance. ICS favorites include red dawn and bridge across time; and the T.V. series V and T.V. movie alien nation: the udara LEGACY.

Ron Randell, an Australian-born actor whose long career included movies, television, radio and Broadway has died at age 86. Born in Sydney, Randell was 17 when he began a career in radio. He moved into theater and in 1946 played the lead in Smithy, about real-life Australian aviation pioneer Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith. That led to a Hollywood movie contract, and the following year he appeared in It Had to Be You. 
He went on to appear in dozens of films over the next 35 years, including Follow the Boys, The Longest Day, King of Kings and ICS favorite, The She-Creature. He also played Cole Porter in Kiss Me, Kate. Randell also had starring roles as fictional detectives Bulldog Drummond and Lone Wolf in several 1940s films and starred in the short-lived TV spy series O.S.S. in 1957. He made dozens of guest appearances on TV shows, including Bewitched, Mission: Impossible, Bonanza and Gunsmoke. 
 
 
 

THE LAST WARD . . .
By John Ward
 

 I thought I had purged my soul of a lifetime’s worth of guilty pleasures in one of these columns a year ago.  I distinctly remember saying I had loved Hayley Mills as a Catholic schoolgirl in THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS, and I figured, You just can’t get more confessional than that.  (No pun intended.)
 That was before someone went and got the bright idea to make a movie out of FANTASTIC FOUR, one of the most memorable comic book fantasies of my youth.  I haven’t seen this movie yet, and it scares the crap out of me already.  Why?  Well, for starters, the Sun critic actually liked it.  (We haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye for a long time.)  The only problem with his review was that he spent half of it trying to explain the origins of the Fantastic Four.  I wasn’t more than two paragraphs in before I said to myself, This guy couldn’t tell Ben Grimm from Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  
 Another point that worries me (okay, frightens me) is that I haven’t seen a single positive review of this film on the net yet that was written by someone I would call a comic geek.  The geekier the writer, the more he seems to loathe the film.  Does this mean I’ll steer clear?  Heck, no.  I’ll see it.  And it’ll probably wind up in my Guilty Pleasures Hall of Fame, on a pedestal next to Charlton Heston’s entire ‘70s output.
 That’s all it took to set me thinking about guilty pleasures again.  It turned out that I hadn’t really purged my soul; I’d only nicked it up a little.  There’s plenty more where ol’ Chuck Heston came from, my friends.  Let me count the ways.
 I’ll start with the penultimate Dracula film Christopher Lee made for Hammer:  DRACULA A.D. 1972.  I’ve actually been sitting on this one for over a year, since my first guilty pleasures article, because it came to mind not long after that article appeared.  It’s considered by many fans to be the weakest of the Hammer Dracula films featuring Lee.  But it will always hold a special place in my movie-going heart because, of all the Hammer Dracula films, DRACULA A.D. 1972 remains the only one I saw in a movie theater.  Let me tell you, I was 14 and fairly impressed by a buxom Caroline Munro on that sacrificial altar.
 DRACULA A.D. 1972 has its faults.  Most complaints I’ve read about it can’t seem to get past that god-awful party featuring a group called “Stoneground” as the house band.  But I like it for other reasons.  The opening sequence is arguably the best ever filmed for a Hammer Dracula picture; it features Van Helsing and the Count battling atop a runaway horse carriage through London’s Hyde Park, with a nifty staking via a broken wagon wheel!
 It was good to see Peter Cushing back on familiar ground as Van Helsing.  He didn’t look quite as feeble here as he does in the follow-up, SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA.  There’s a nice scene where he faces off with Dracula’s vampiric henchman and does him in with bathtub water!  For vampire buffs, there are plenty of candidates to go around once the Count is reborn and moves through the goofy group of “mods” dumb enough to resurrect him.  All in all, I can’t complain about the movie; it’s a true “guilty pleasure” for me.  (Remember my definition of a “guilty pleasure”: a movie you’ll trash in mixed company, then go home and watch gleefully in the privacy of your own TV room, or simply a movie you’re almost too embarrassed to admit liking.)
 The perfect example of a movie that fits this definition for me is SUDDEN DEATH, a thriller starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, who probably deserves his own wing in the Guilty Pleasures Hall of Fame.  As far as I know, this movie has never been released on DVD, but when it is, I’m there.  It’s been decried (maybe rightfully so) as a cheap DIE HARD knock-off, but I beg to differ.  Back in the early to mid-‘90s, just about every other thriller made was a DIE HARD rip-off; ask Steven Seagal, he’ll tell you.
 SUDDEN DEATH is crisply directed by Peter Hyams, who made the underrated OUTLAND, NARROW MARGIN, and THE RELIC, to name a few.  It features Powers Boothe in the obligatory role as the psycho mastermind, and it manages to put Van Damme (playing a “disgraced” fireman; go figure) into all sorts of unbelievable situations.  In terms of guilty pleasures, how can one go wrong with a film in which the hero dukes it out in a nasty smackdown with a giant stuffed penguin?  A point of clarification: Boothe and his cronies are holding a packed Pittsburgh ice hockey arena hostage during the 7th game of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Pittsburgh hockey team is nicknamed the Penguins, and one of the terrorists gets into the Penguin mascot’s suit, and…oh, hell, that’s more than you needed.  Just imagine the Oriole Bird with an Uzi instead of a big plastic wiffle ball bat, and you get the idea.  Bottom line: SUDDEN DEATH rates high on my list because it’s fun, fast moving, and the happy beneficiary of my “Been There Rule”: I’m a sucker for any movie filmed in a place I have actually visited.
I can’t say that about THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, because I’ve never been to Egypt.  It’s hot and full of sand and it makes me sweat just to look at the place.  But Cecil B. DeMille’s last gasp as an extravagant, over-the-top director of celluloid spectaculars rates pretty highly as a guilty pleasure.  There’s the dialogue:  “Are her lips dry and cracked like the sun, or moist…like a pomegranate?”  There’s the insane casting, like Edward G. Robinson as the Jewish slavemaster Dathan – “Where’s your messiah noowwww?”  There’s the insistance on location filming, with a real cast of thousands, not including the donkeys, cattle, and other assorted livestock.
But there are also scenes of real power.  In this age of CGI spectacle, the famous parting of the Red Sea still packs a wallop.  I can’t imagine what it must have been like to sit in a huge, cavernous movie theater in 1956 and watch those waters roll back “with a blast of God’s nostrils.”  The earlier scene depicting the first night of Passover is justifiably one of the most chilling sequences ever filmed, ranking up there with the scariest of horror movies.  Let’s face it; if you were standing there in the alleyway and saw those tendrils of green vapor oozing toward you, you’d run the other way.
(By the way, did you notice I didn’t even mention Charlton Heston that time?  It would have been too easy.)
Speaking of oozing…that reminds me of THE BLOB.
No, not that one.  You’re thinking of the ‘50s cult classic with “Steven” McQueen.  I’m thinking of the 1988 remake with Kevin Dillon sporting a curly mullet as the hero from the “wrong side of the tracks.”  I understand Dillon has a fairly meaty role in a new HBO series called Entourage.  More power to him, I say.  Back in 1988, he had a hard time convincing townsfolk that there was this huge glob of red gelatin oozing around, liquefying people in the most grotesquely gory of ways.  Cheesy ‘80s gore and mullets – now that’s something Steve McQueen didn’t have to worry about!
But wait, it gets better.  What starts out as a sci-fi screamer morphs halfway through into a government conspiracy flick, with all the men in suits (anti-radioactive suits, that is) running around trying to cover things up.  Before the CIA fertilizer hits the fan, we’re treated to a wealth of “Boo!” moments and some fairly impressive death scenes.  My personal favorite is the one with Candy Clark in the phone booth.  A close second would be the make-out scene in the car.  Folks, guilty pleasures just don’t come any cheesier than THE BLOB.
If you want to talk about ‘80s cheese, you’ve got to include Patrick Swayze.  When the women of America (including my wife) hear the name “Patrick Swayze,” they think of exactly two movies, in interchangeable order:  DIRTY DANCING and GHOST.  Not me.  I might be American, but I’m definitely not a woman, and I want my Swayze as buffed and bloody as I can get him; I’m talking ROAD HOUSE!
Swayze made ROAD HOUSE in the three-year period between DANCING and GHOST when he was actually pretty bankable.  Why he chose this movie, a rough action picture better suited for someone like Sylvester Stallone, we’ll never know.  But Swayze kicks some serious butt playing a “cooler” (kind of a super bar-bouncer) who stands up to nasty town boss Ben Gazzara.  The supporting cast is pretty good, with Sam Elliott at his most grizzled as Swayze’s mentor.  Think of Willie Nelson with a vicious streak, and you’ve got Elliott.
There’s also Kelly Lynch as the incredibly gorgeous local doctor who falls for Swayze, and the Jeff Healey Band lends some pretty solid tunes as the house band for the “Double Deuce.”  You listen to them for a bit and wonder why such a great sounding bar band winds up stuck in Podunk, Missouri.  But that would be lending the script more thought than it deserves.  ROAD HOUSE has slowly but surely developed into one of those “surf blockers” the remote always stops on when I’m channel surfing late at night.
Hold on, I’m not quite done.  There are a couple more titles I’d like to bring to your attention,  which were only recently released on DVD, and I mention them together because they’re very, very similar:  RACE WITH THE DEVIL and DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY.
What could these titles possibly have in common?  For starters, they both star Peter Fonda.  Both pictures feature some downright unbelievable car chase stunt work.  And last but not least, they both represent the embodiment of a long-lost genre:  the drive-in movie.
These were not the kind of movies that played indoor theaters.  Oh, no.  These puppies were designed for the drive-ins of small-town America, which is where I found them (or they found me) in the mid-‘70s, when I had a car, a full tank of gas, and plenty of complimentary movie passes.  RACE WITH THE DEVIL featured Fonda and Warren Oates, on a camping trip with their wives (Lara “Dark Shadows” Parker and Loretta “Hot Lips” Swit).  Our heroes run afoul of some good-ol’-boy Satanists.  The Satanists have fast cars, and naturally, they give chase.  Good, clean, revved-up fun.
Then there’s DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY, again with Fonda (as Larry, natch), this time teamed up with sluttish Susan George (as Mary), most known as the ravaged wife in Sam Peckinpah’s STRAW DOGS.  George hooks up with fast drivin’ robber Fonda, Sheriff Vic Morrow gives merry chase, and the race to the state line is on.  The surprise ending still has the power to rock the first-time viewer.
Given time, I’m pretty sure I could come up with a few more.  Well, okay, more than a few.  How about HOLLOW MAN?  RAVENOUS?  MY FELLOW AMERICANS?  What’s that, you say?  How could I possibly enjoy movies like these?
Now, now…
Do I rattle your chain for liking FANTASTIC FOUR?
 
 

 
ICS CALENDER OF EVENTS
 
 

July 30th      
Our next meeting will be held on Saturday at 5:30 P.M.  
ICS has a special guest presenter - Dr. Peter Dendle, an Associate Professor of English from Penn State’s Mont Alto campus.  He is the author of the work that’s considered to be the definitive work on undead movies – The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. 
Bring a friend, tell a friend, bring a snack!!!