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January 2007  #96



ICS makes the Newspaper!
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Editor-Betsy Childs 
Staff Writers- Regina Vallerani, 
Mike Laird, Sam DiBlasi
John Ward, Joe Plempel, 
Dava Sentz


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 Club president, Dave Willard, was unable to attend the December meeting.  He needed surgery to remove a growth near his kidney.  Dave has been released from the hospital following surgery and is recuperating at home.  He would appreciate hearing from club members.  His email address is DUWILLARD@VERIZON.NET.
 Get well, soon Dave – we miss you!

 Twenty-two members participated in the Yankee Gift Swap, an ICS holiday tradition. There were relatively few steals, absolutely no bloodletting, and a good time was had by all.  Superman was the #1 theme for gifts as several members received Superman gifts.  Other gifts included – The Omen Box set, a plush Angel, a Tortured Soul figure, a Texas Chainsaw Massacre diorama and the DVD’s CANNIBAL, HELLRAISER, GOJIRA, and DOGVILLE.
 Thanks to all who participated in one of our most lively annual traditions! 

 The theme of the night was Revenge films, presented by Regina Vallerani.  Club members had the choice between DEATH WISH, MAD MAX, THE PIT, LADY SNOWBLOOD, and the winner, David Cronenberg’s THE BROOD.   In THE BROOD, Oliver Reed portrays a charismatic psychiatrist who uses role-playing techniques to provoke cathartic reactions in his patients – reactions that have physical, as well as emotional, manifestations.  Samantha Eggar plays one of his patients, a wife and mother who was raised by physically abusive, alcoholic parents.  While she is in Reed’s retreat, her mother and father are attacked by deformed children, and her husband begins to suspect a connection with the psychiatrist's methods.  The revenge angle in THE BROOD is not revealed until the final 15 minutes.  In that sense, it is unlike the other, more traditional revenge films that were offered. 
 Although this is clearly a horror film, Cronenberg (who also wrote the script) treats it as a domestic drama, concentrating on the effects of divorce and broken marriages, child abuse, and the power cult gurus hold over their followers.  And on yet another level, it's an exploration of Cronenberg's own feelings on these issues which were formed as he went through a fairly acrimonious divorce and custody battle.  Even during the film's climax, where everything gets very gruesome and bloody, Cronenberg treats the material seriously—never turning the film into a pure schlock exploitation flick.  In fact, he referred to THE BROOD as his answer to KRAMER VS. KRAMER.
 Revenge films to avoid: ART OF THE DEVIL – don’t let the gruesome cover fool you – it’s really a boring Thai soap opera – fast forward to the gore if you must – but you may fall asleep during the tensionless story -  DEAD MAN’S SHOES – 8.1 IMDB rating my butt - great MST3K film – ridiculous revenge thriller.

 Our next meeting will be held on Saturday January 27th 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. 

  Before FOREVER KNIGHT …. Before BUFFY… Vampires, Werewolves, Witches and Gothic Romance were the staples of the Cult TV Soap DARK SHADOWS.  Rick Arnold will give us a glimpse into this groundbreaking, long-running soap.

 John Ward relayed long distance holiday greetings from Tim and Heather Fleming, our members emeritus in New Mexico.  Tim and Heather were digging out from nearly two feet of snow.
 Happy New Year Flemings from all of your friends at the ICS!  We will look forward to seeing you when you visit back East!

 Iron Man awards were distributed to all members who stayed up all night watching movies at the Halloween all-nighter.  Recipients were: Andrew Kent, Dava Sentz, Tom and Justin Proveaux, Rick Rieve, Steve Vaught, Skip Phillips, John Ward, and Joe Plempel.  Congratulations to all of you night owls!  I’m sure there will be more competition in 2008!

 The board announced a special surprise to commemorate the upcoming 100th meeting: a field trip to the new Geppi’s Entertainment Museum at Camden Yards.  The field trip will take place on Saturday, April 7th.  All club members in good standing (with paid-up dues) will receive free admission, compliments of the club’s treasury.  An exact time has not been decided, but we hope to gather at another place, such as a Light Rail stop, and ride to the museum together. (This will relieve parking woes.)  The date was selected to take advantage of the Orioles’ out-of-town schedule.  A sign-up sheet was passed around.  Thus far, 19 people have committed to attending.  The March meeting is the final time that you can sign-up for the field trip.
 Let’s give a round of applause to The Board for thinking up such a fun treat!!

 Our club treasurer, Andrew Kent, has a few extra 2007 calendars remaining.  The calendars feature the work of artist Frank Dietz.  They are $15 each.  If you are interested in purchasing one, please see Andrew.

    Our annual elections will be held at the January 2007 meeting.  The requirements for running for election are simple – have a paid 2007 membership to the club, be willing to give up an extra day in the month for a board meeting and have a strong interest in helping the club prosper.  If you’d like to run, please contact John Ward prior to the January meeting.
 Candidates are: Jim Childs, Andrew Kent, Joe Plempel, Mike Schilling, John Ward, and Dave Willard.

 John Ward is compiling a Top 100 Genre Movies for our 100th meeting in April 2007.  He will be accepting lists until our March 2007 meeting, so please email him with your list ASAP at JOHN5509@COMCAST.NET.  And if you don’t feel like listing 100 movie titles, you can do as little as 5 or as much as 99 – he will count ‘em all.
 The following members received “double vote” cards for turning in their lists by Dec. 31st: John Clayton, Mike Schilling, Robin Richards, Gary Roberson, Betsy Childs, Dave Willard, Norman Jones, Joe Plempel, Tom Proveaux, John Weber, and Rick Smith.

    This is just a reminder that dues expire on New Year's Day. It will be time to pony up for the coming year. Individuals are $25. Couples are $40. Extra family members who reside at the same address are $15 each added the primary membership.  We hope that you decide to join us for an exciting year ahead.
 Dues can be paid to Andrew Kent at meetings or sent via paypal to ICSFILM@HOTMAIL.COM or mailed to Andrew at:
 Andrew Kent
 5025 Green Mountain Circle Apt 6
 Columbia, MD  21044
All Checks should be payable to ‘ICS’ or ‘Imaginative Cinema Society’.

Feb 24 (*) Haunted House Movies, presented by Sam DiBlasi
March 31 Son of No-Stinkers Night, presented by John Ward
April 7 Field Trip to Geppi Museum at Camden Yards
April 21 (*) 100th Meeting  & Top 10 Genre Movies as picked by the club
May 26 ICS Cookout 
June 30 (*) 
July 28 
August 25 (*) 
September 30
October 27 (*)  Greg Mank Returns; Halloween Potluck Dinner & All-Nighter
November 17 
December 29 (*)  Yankee Swap                             (*) denotes Late Night Feature


By John Ward

 This article began when I thought of tacking a “What I Want to See Most in 2007” list to the end of my “2006 Top 10” Last Ward column.  I started checking out some of the usual websites for info – Ain’t It Cool News, ComingSoon.Net – and before long, I realized what was on the horizon for 2007 would fill more than just a quickie list.  One of my favorite bits from the old “ellipsis” columns was “If I could see one movie a month…”  A movie a month in 2007?  Not likely.  Not even close.  And when you take a look at some of the genre titles on tap for the new year, I think you’ll be inclined to agree.  The following “mega-list” has movies separated by month.  In a few cases, I’ve added the specific date, especially if it’s a locked-in blockbuster.  But in many cases, the release dates on the websites did not indicate wide release, and as we Baltimoreans know, that means anywhere from a week to several months after the posted date – so make of it what you will.

PAN’S LABYRINTH – The new film from Guillermo Del Toro, director of HELLBOY, has received rave reviews for its nightmarish visions.  It opens wide on 1/12.
THE HITCHER – Sean Bean takes over for Rutger Hauer in a slicked-up remake of the ‘80s psycho classic, proof that Hollywood hasn’t lost its desire to cannibalize itself in order to make a buck.
BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE – It looks like a cross between UNDERWORLD and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS – not a promising pedigree.  Female werewolf falls for American art student, goes against the will of the pack.  You have been warned.
PRIMEVAL – Nasty killer crocodile movie no. 1, dumped into theaters three months ahead of schedule to get the jump on nasty killer crocodile movie no. 2.  The trailer does its level best to play down the whole giant reptile angle, choosing instead to go for cheap serial killer thrills.
SMOKIN’ ACES – Joe Carnahan, the gritty director who got booted from M:I III to make room for J.J. Abrams, comes back with this comic shoot ‘em up.  Two Feds are assigned to baby-sit a sleazy Vegas magician, Buddy “Aces” Israel, who has agreed to rat on the Mob.  Said Mob puts out a winner-take-all bounty on Aces’ head, and what seems like everyone in the free world with a gun and a dream comes gunning for Aces.  One of those films with a giant cast that amounts to a string of glorified cameos.

THE MESSENGERS – Stop me if you’ve heard this premise before:  Family moves into spooky old house, but only the kids can see the spooky gho…whoops, that didn’t take long.  Thanks for stopping me.
ROGUE -- Nasty killer alligator movie no. 2, from the guy who directed the equally nasty WOLF CREEK.
HANNIBAL RISING – The advance buzz on this prequel has been incredibly negative, partly owing to the fact that its source novel (completed after the screenplay, by the way – go figure) has been universally panned as a stinker of the highest order.  I’ve read all of Thomas Harris’ books, and this is the first one I have no desire to read.  Coincidentally, I don’t have much desire to see the movie, either.  But I listed it for its geek value.
GHOST RIDER –Marvel hasn’t had much success premiering superhero flicks in the dead of winter.  (Think DAREDEVIL and ELEKTRA.)  They obviously haven’t learned their lesson, because here comes Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze, a daredevil biker who sells his soul to save a loved one.  This, of course, gets him no respect from Satan – just a flaming skull where his head would be.  And his bike sprouts flaming tires and rides up walls.
THE NUMBER 23 – I watched the trailer for this latest Joel Schumacher film and was suitably unimpressed.  Jim Carrey plays a poor fool who becomes increasingly unglued when he perceives some kind of strange conspiracy revolving around all sorts of permutations of the number 23.  (Hence the title.)

THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 – Last year’s remake of the Wes Craven ‘70s horror classic had one thing going for it: director Alexandre Aja, whose first film, HIGH TENSION, was one of the best horror films of the past ten years.  Aja’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES had a nasty, gritty kick to it.  Naturally, Aja’s not involved with this sequel, about a cadre of National Guard types who mistakenly wander into the same nuclear testing ground.  I’ll probably pass.
ZODIAC – Now we’re talking.  David Fincher, best known for SEVEN, makes a welcome return to the director’s chair with this take on the true story of the search for San Francisco’s Zodiac serial killer.  The strong cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey, Jr.
300 – Now we’re really talking.  The current buzz on this film is red-hot, based on a great pedigree (graphic artist Frank Miller, director Zack “DEAD remake” Snyder) and an eye-popping trailer.  All about the Battle of Thermopylae, when 300 Spartans stood against the mighty Persian army, sending testosterone levels off the charts.  I’ll be in line for this one!
FIDO – Two words: domesticated zombies.  No, I’m not kidding; I read the premise and watched a clip online.  In the not-too-distant future, after a zombie plague has been dealt with, humans train zombies to do household chores.  All the zombies ask in return is to chomp on a stray mailman now and then.  I guess having your own zombie valet would be quite a status symbol.  (For our crowd, anyway.)
SHOOTER – A “wronged man” thriller with Mark Wahlberg as an ex-Special Forces sniper set up by some crooked Feds to take the fall for an assassination attempt.  Directed by Antoine “Training Day” Fuqua, and based on the novel by ex-Sun film critic Stephen Hunter.
TMNT - Nope, don’t want to go there.  Sorry.  (Anyone who can’t figure out that acronym is reading the wrong newsletter.)

GRINDHOUSE – One of the three movies I most want to see this year, but since the other two (Spidey and Harry Potter) have built-in appeal, I’m putting GRINDHOUSE at the top of the pile.  It’s actually two movies in one:  Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino have each filmed their own 90-min. movie in the same vein as the sleazy grindhouse flicks of the ‘70s: Rodriguez’ film is a zombie mish-mash called “Planet Terror,” and Tarantino’s is a psycho movie called “Death Proof,” in which serial killer Kurt Russell uses a souped-up sports car to run down his victims.  To capture the flavor of a true double feature, several other genre directors have filmed fake trailers for imaginary movies, such as Rob Zombie’s “Werewolf Women of the SS”.  The trailers will run between the Rodriguez and Tarantino features.
HOT FUZZ – The long-awaited second feature from the guys behind SHAUN OF THE DEAD.  Simon Pegg, the star of SHAUN, plays a “supercop” (think a younger Dirty Harry) who gets transferred to a quiet English village, where he’s teamed with a chubby new partner ( Nick Frost, Pegg’s buddy from SHAUN).  It’ll be interesting to see if the same brains who twisted the zombie genre can do the same to buddy cop films.
THE CONDEMNED – Here’s another familiar premise: a convicted killer (pro wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin), awaiting execution, is “purchased” by a TV producer and dumped on a remote island with nine other condemned killers from all over the world, with freedom going to the sole survivor.  Think BATTLE ROYALE with extra steroids, but without the subtitles.

SPIDER-MAN 3 – Everyone who made the second movie is back, with a couple of new faces:  Thomas Haden Church is the Sandman (one of my favorite old Spider-man villains, by the way), and Topher Grace plays Peter Parker’s rival Eddie Brock, fated to become Venom.  Bryce Dallas Howard, fresh from LADY IN THE WATER, plays Gwen Stacy.  The trailer looks nice, but while we’ve gotten a pretty good look at the infamous “black suit,” the filmmakers have been careful to keep Venom’s look under wraps.  It opens 5/4.
28 WEEKS LATER – A sequel to Danny Boyle’s genre-busting shocker of several years ago.   Six months have passed since the rage virus wiped out the British Isles, and the U.S. Army has declared that the virus has been eradicated and people can start to re-settle the country.  Well, not quite. One of the returning settlers carries a mutated form of the virus.  Hilarity ensues.
1408 – Stephen King fans might enjoy this adaptation of one of his scarier short stories, which was read aloud at an ICS meeting several years ago.  John Cusack plays a writer intent on disproving the ghost stories revolving around a haunted hotel room, and Samuel L. Jackson plays the hotel manager who tries to talk him out of staying.
SHREK THE THIRD – I laughed a good bit at the first one.  I laughed once at the second one (the helicopter shot of the “white bronco”).  I don’t hold out a lot of hope for the third one, although Shrek and Spidey will probably beat each other up for the early summer box office.

ELI ROTH’S HOSTEL: PART II – This one recently underwent a title change when Roth decided he’d go the John Carpenter route and create his own brand name.  It’s basically the same plot as the first, with a gender reversal – this time, it’s the ladies who are the unsuspecting tourists.  Releasing it at the beginning of the summer season doesn’t look right, but that’s just my opinion.
OCEAN’S 13 – Director Steven Soderbergh has corralled the cons again, including Clooney, Pitt, and Damon, to team up with their old adversary, casino magnate Andy Garcia.  Garcia is being muscled by hotel kingpin Al Pacino, and Clooney and co. are recruited to help Garcia strike back.  Early buzz is that 13 isn’t nearly as trying as 12, but this might be a case of one too many trips to the well.
FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER – I offer this capsule purely as a public service, since I thought the first film was one major-league stinker.  But I must admit the trailer looks interesting: a clip of the Surfer’s first appearance, rather than the usual montage of money shots.  Now, if they could only guarantee Galactus would make an appearance, they might have something.  (I can’t believe I’m actually sitting here, talking myself into going to see it.)
EVAN ALMIGHTY – Yet another sequel, this time designed to cash in on Steve Carell’s post-VIRGIN popularity.  He plays the newsman embarrassed by Jim Carrey in the first film, who is visited by God (Morgan Freeman again) and asked to build an ark.  More embarrassment on the horizon.
LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD – Last year, ROCKY BALBOA took the title as my Guilty Pleasure Must-See of 2006.  Here’s my pick for 2007.  I don’t care if every critic in the free world laughed this off as a mind-numbingly bad armpit of a movie; I’d still go.  I loved the first two, I thought the third was OK, and Bruce the Bald is back for more as supercop John McClane.  This time, an Internet genius is trying to destroy the American mainframe, or something like that.  All I know is that Willis cracks wise and lots of stuff blows up.  I’m there.
RATATOUILLE – Pixar’s 2007 model, which is basically all that animation fans need to know.  The premise: a Parisian rat suffers from having gourmet tastes in a sewer-slimy world.  The trailer’s pretty funny (“Once you muscle past the gag reflex, it’s not that bad.”)

TRANSFORMERS – Fireballing director Michael Bay returns with a live action/CGI take on the popular children’s toy.  The new trailer gives the barest of glimpses of the machines’ appearance, but in typical Bay fashion, the whole thing seems to move pretty quickly.
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX – Finally, the film version of my favorite Potter book.  I have long predicted that Harry’s destiny will be to take over as Hogwarts headmaster one day, that his true calling is to be a teacher, and this was the book that started to show glimpses of that.  Everyone’s back, and in true series fashion, they’ve nailed the casting again; this time, they’ve got Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton to play Dolores Umbridge, Dumbledore’s successor as headmaster.  Should be good.
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE – First, let me say that I don’t watch The Simpsons.  (Actually, I don’t watch much animated TV at all.)  But dang, the trailer makes me laugh.  Matt Groening and his crew are boldly trumpeting the fact that they’re “gloriously 2-D in a CGI world.”  Who better than the Simpsons to make that statement work?

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM – Matt Damon returns for Round Three of the Jason Bourne saga, once again directed by Paul “United 93” Greenglass.  Bourne is still searching for his real identity, and most of the secret agents around the globe are still after him.
RUSH HOUR 3 – Someone decided there was still money to be made in the teaming of martial arts master Jackie Chan and motormouth Chris Tucker.  Seriously, has this Tucker guy done anything else even remotely interesting?  As in most of Jackie’s recent American-made films, the bloopers over the closing credits will probably be the most entertaining part of the movie.
FANBOYS – Four buddies take a cross-country trip to honor the wish of their dying friend: to see the premiere of STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch.  The trailer was hit-or-miss; just when I thought it was basically a teen-centric gross-out comedy, it nailed a perfect fan-geek-Star Wars joke, and I smiled.  There are scheduled cameos from Carrie Fisher, Ray Park, and Billy Dee Williams.  It might have possibilities.
THE INVASION -- Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig star in yet another remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.  Kidman plays a D.C. psychiatrist who begins to suspect that a wave of behavioral changes among the populace is extra-terrestrial.  A huge chunk of the movie was filmed in Baltimore, so if nothing else, it should be good for another round of Spot-the-Landmark.
HALLOWEEN – Rob Zombie brings a fresh perspective to the original horror classic; I admit I’m curious to see what the director of THE DEVIL’S REJECTS can do with the story of Michael Myers.  Dead-on casting tidbit:  Malcolm McDowell will step into Donald Pleasance’s Dr. Loomis role, and Tyler “Sabretooth” Mane will don the Shatner mask as Michael himself.

SHOOT ‘EM UP – This sounds vaguely like an old John Woo film: Clive Owen plays a man caught in a gun battle who delivers a baby and is forced to protect the infant from thugs who want to kill him.  The additional cast includes Monica Bellucci and Paul Giamatti.
RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION – One can only hope.
THE BRAVE ONE – Further proof that Hollywood has become imaginatively bankrupt:  Jodie Foster stars as a New York radio host who is brutally injured and her fiancée killed in an attack.  She goes on an anonymous rampage to find the men responsible, capturing the hearts and minds of New Yorkers in the process.  Terrence Howard plays a detective doggedly trying to bring Foster down.  Yep, it’s DEATH WISH with a sex change.

TRICK ‘R TREAT – This sounds like a throwback to those anthology horror flicks of the early ‘70s, with several different tales revolving around the same premise or backdrop.  This time, the stories have a Halloween theme: a couple regrets blowing out the jack-o-lantern candle before midnight, a group of young pranksters get their comeuppance, etc, etc.  Anna “Rogue” Paquin and Brian Cox head the cast.
VANTAGE POINT – A Rashomon-styled take on a Presidential assassination attempt, told from different points of view: the Secret Service agents assigned to protect the man (Matthew Fox, Dennis Quaid), a tourist who videotapes the event (Forest Whitaker), and a TV producer reporting on the scene (Sigourney Weaver).
30 DAYS OF NIGHT – Hollywood seems to be turning more and more to graphic novels for inspiration.  First SIN CITY, then 300, and now this.  Steve Niles adapts his own book, about a small Alaskan town attacked by vampires during the town’s annual 30-day period of darkness.  Josh Hartnett plays the town sheriff.
SAW IV – Need I say more?

AMERICAN GANGSTER – Ridley Scott directs Russell Crowe for what seems like the umpteenth time, as a New York detective in the ‘70s (based on a true story, of course) trying to bring down a Harlem drug kingpin (Denzel Washington).  Washington’s character, Frank Lucas, built his empire by smuggling heroin out of Vietnam in the body bags of dead soldiers.  Trivia tip: This is not the first time Denzel and Russell have starred together; years ago, Crowe played a computer cyborg baddie in Denzel’s sci-fi flick, VIRTUOSITY.  I’m pretty sure Ridley Scott had nothing to do with that one.
BEOWULF – Robert Zemeckis directs an animated version of one of the earliest fantasy epics, about the warrior Beowulf and his battle with the monster Grendel (not to mention Grendel’s vengeful mama).  Voices include Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, and Ray Winstone.
THE MIST – Stephen King fans have waited for this one for a long time.  It’s a creepy “siege” thriller about a mysterious mist that blankets a town and forces residents to hole up in a supermarket; they proceed to get picked off by nightmarish monsters lurking in the fog.  Frank Darabont, who scored with two of the best King adaptations ever – THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and THE GREEN MILE – returns to write and direct, with Thomas “The Punisher” Jane signed to star.

THE GOLDEN COMPASS – I know very little about this one, but research tells me it is based on a popular fantasy novel, the first in a trilogy, about a young girl in an alternative fantasy world who tries to save her friend from a group of nasties known as the Gobblers.  Nicole Kidman teams with Daniel Craig again for this one, which sounds like it should keep the NARNIA crowd busy until PRINCE CASPIAN arrives in 2008.
ALIEN VS. PREDATOR 2 – They’re baaack.  Round Two of the intergalactic smackdown takes place in a small Colorado town, and much mayhem is promised.  24 fans should note that Reiko “Michelle Dessler” Aylesworth is attached to star.
I AM LEGEND – Of all the films on the genre list for 2007, this is the one I would love to see make money.  Why?  Because it’s based on one of the greatest vampire stories of all time, a tale that has been filmed twice before and not that successfully – although I always thought THE LAST MAN ON EARTH was an underrated creepfest, and THE OMEGA MAN was a kitschy guilty pleasure.  This time, superstar Will Smith takes over from Vincent Price and Charlton Heston as scientist Robert Neville, the sole survivor of a vampire plague.  Smith’s character struggles to get by in a New York City turned ghost town, all the while being hounded by vampires out for his blood – literally.  Directed by Francis Lawrence, who brought some twisted imagery to life in CONSTANTINE.  Smith’s most recent outing, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, is making millions and may score him another Oscar nomination, so I am cautiously – cautiously – optimistic for I AM LEGEND.

tv news tv news tv news the glass teat tv news tv news tv news
     AMC will air a remake of the trippy 1968 TV series The Prisoner, with a storyline similar to that of the original series, which starred Patrick McGoohan, who also was creator, producer, writer and director. The original series aired on CBS 1967-'68. 
     The new series will follow a man who finds himself inexplicably trapped in "the Village," with no memory of how he arrived. All of the inhabitants are identified by number instead of name, have no memory of a previous existence or outside civilization and are under constant surveillance. The man, Number Six, sets out to discover the truth behind the Village, why he's there and how he can escape. 
     Production on the hourlong series is scheduled to begin in the spring for a worldwide premiere targeted for January 2008. The number of episodes is yet to be determined, but it will be a minimum of six or eight. 
     AMC also has acquired rights to the original Prisoner and will air those episodes around the time of the new series' launch, along with films in the same genre as the show.

     “Personally speaking, from the word 'go,' it always felt to me somewhere in the neighborhood between 90 and 100 episodes was going to be a version of Lost where we never had to do the bad season," Damon Lindelof, co-creator and executive producer of ABC's hit show Lost, said that 100 episodes is the magic number for the series, and that he would like to see it end in the fifth season. 
     Lindelof said, "We knew season one was going to be introduction, season two was going to be into the hatch, season three was going to be the others. I don't want to tell you what season four is going to be. And then there was a wrap-up season, a shortened version, that would put you somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 episodes. At the end of season four we'll have produced 93 hours of the show. And I would imagine that would be very close to where it would end, ideally." 
     Lindelof and co-producer Carlton Cuse created a stir when they announced that they are in discussions with the network about finding an end point to the show. "We all looked at each other at the very beginning and said, 'By the grace of God will this show even survive 13 episodes,'" he said. 
    "So Carlton and I are able to now sit down with the network and say, 'Remember in the very beginning when you were having us convince you that this thing could go on for years and years and years and we all agreed it couldn't? Well, now, just because it's successful doesn't mean that that's changed.' 
     “The reality is, they can produce a sixth or seventh or eighth season, but would anybody be watching? Because the show will be so miserable by that time. Was it really The X-Files anymore when David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson weren't on the show? For me, The X-Files wasn't about, 'Have aliens invaded?' It was about Mulder and Scully—a skeptic and a believer—and once that element of the show was gone, the show was over. So we don't want to produce those episodes of Lost, and in fact, we're not going to produce those episodes of Lost." 
     As for what Lost is about, Lindelof has a clear idea, and a specific plan about what needs to happen to the characters before the story concludes. "This show is about people who are metaphorically lost in their lives, who get on an airplane and crash on an island and become physically lost on the planet Earth," he said. "And once they are able to metaphorically find themselves in their lives again, they will be able to physically find themselves in the world again. When you look at the entire show, that's what it will look like. That's what it's always been about." 
    Lost returns with the first of an uninterrupted run of episodes on Feb. 7. It will still air on Wednesdays, but in a later timeslot, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. 

     In an unexpected move, NBC Universal plans to roll out Chiller, a new digital cable network devoted to horror-themed programming.
    Jeff Gaspin, NBC Universal's president of cable entertainment, digital content and cross-network strategy, is expected to announce the network on Jan. 12 at the TV Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. Dan Harrison, senior vice president of emerging networks for NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, will be in charge of the channel.
     The cable network will launch March 1 and initially be seen in 12 million homes via a carriage deal with DirecTV. The channel also will be offered on DirecTV's new tier of 100 HD channels slated to roll out later this year,. 
      NBC U has already started pitching other cable operators on the channel and is hoping to land carriage agreement on other systems. 
      Chiller will take advantage of NBC U's deep reservoir of horror-related TV shows (Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and films (The Shining, Psycho), many of them from the old MCA library. But Gaspin said the cabler also has acquired programming from other companies, including 20th Century Fox TV, Sony, Warner Brothers TV and Lionsgate. 
     Other programming assets include Twin Peaks, Tales From the Crypt, Freddy's Nightmares and Friday the 13th: The Series. 

     Not Zombie Bionic woman, though that may be fun, but rather a remake. NBC has given a cast-contingent pilot order to a reimagined version of the 1970s TV series The Bionic Woman, from Battlestar Galactica producer David Eick. Eick is co-writing and co-producing the project with Laeta Kalogridis (The Dive). 
     Eick has said that he's been combing through the library at Universal, where his production company is based, to find another title to revive following Battlestar. The original version of The Bionic Woman—a spinoff of The Six Million Dollar Man— starred Lindsay Wagner as a woman whose body is mechanically enhanced to save her life. 

     Masi Oka, who stars as Hiro Nakamura on Heroes, said that his character will find love and a sword in future episodes. "Let's put it this way, I heard from series creator Tim Kring somewhere down the line—I'm not gonna say when—somewhere down the line there will be another love interest with Hiro," Oka said. "From what I understand it's gonna be a new character. But who knows? You never know what's gonna happen in the minds of the writers." 
     In the last few episodes before the mid-season finale, Hiro fell in love with a Texas waitress named Charlie (played by Jayma Mays), but was unable to save her from the serial killer known as Sylar (Zachary Quinto). According to Oka, the experience will have a profound affect on Hiro in the last half of the season. "The death of Charlie has definitely put a certain devastation and a realization of reality into his power," he said. "He's definitely come to realize he can't change the past. Fate is fate and he can't change that. Same with destiny. He believed in that and he realizes that that's something not to be messed with. But Hiro's still on his pure journey, but he's gone through a lot of tragedy and obstacles, so it's going to be hard for him to sort of balance that." 
     Hiro will also begin a quest for the sword he saw himself using in a picture drawn by the character of Isaac (Santiago Cabrera), who has the ability to paint the future. "The next seven episodes are definitely focused about Hiro and his quest for his sword, which he believes will let him focus his power and get back the control over his powers," Oka said. "But we'll see some very interesting, new kind of effects, because of his lack of control of his powers and how they are tied to his emotions." 
     And what of the dinosaur also seen in the painting? Oka, who also has a career in special effects, said that it will be explained, and possibly even seen, in the next new episode. "Our show has always realized Isaac's paintings," he said. "So we know it comes to fruition in one form or another. And all I can say is I do work for Industrial Light & Magic, and we've worked on a great film called Jurassic Park."

Lasse Halstrom is set to direct and executive-produce the SF pilot New Amsterdam for Fox,. The project is the first foray into American television for the Oscar-nominated director. 
    The series, written by Allan Loeb and Christian Taylor, centers on a man cursed with immortality who works as a homicide detective in New York. "I was really intrigued by the writing," Hallstrom. "I find it emotionally very strong, with a very interesting lead character and a recognizable observation of human behavior." 
     Hallstrom, who worked in television in his native Sweden for 10 years before coming to the U.S. in 1989, said he had been toying with the idea of venturing into U.S. television for years but that his feature schedule never permitted him to do a pilot.

movie news movie news  Silver Screen  movie news movie news

     Michael Dougherty, co-writer of last year's Superman Returns, said that the upcoming sequel will feature at least one villain drawn from the DC Comics franchise. Or more than one? "Maybe," Dougherty said "It's [Mr.] Myxyzptlk," he added, with tongue in cheek. 
     Dougherty said that it's likely he and his Superman Returns writing partner Dan Harris will again work with Singer on the sequel. "We're talking," Dougherty said. "We're bouncing ideas around with Bryan. Big ideas. Action-packed ideas." 
Singer has said the next installment will be along the lines of the second Star Trek film, and Dougherty said the comparison is apt. "I think it's going to be a more action-oriented film," he said. "Again, the easy comparison to make was X-Men to X2, or Star Trek -The Motion Picture to Star Trek II. I mean, I know that Bryan has said he's going to Wrath of Khan it, and by that he means, 'Let's take what we've already established—we've gotten that out of the way—and let's just make it shorter, tighter and more action-packed."

     Disney is optioning rights to the Edgar Rice Burroughs SF series John Carter of Mars as a potential franchise for the studio. The story centers on a Civil War veteran who retreats into a cave to avoid capture by Apache Indians and finds himself transported to the planet of Barsoom and taken prisoner by 12-foot-tall green men. Burroughs wrote 11 volumes of Carter's adventures. Disney is hoping the film will launch its next major film franchise. 

     Mark Steven Johnson, director of the upcoming Ghost Rider, said that he's still working on the film's visual effects and editing with only one month to go before its Feb. 14 release. "I literally came from the Sony mixing stage, but I wanted to give a good introduction to the fans," Johnson said. 
     Johnson and one of the movie's stars, Eva Mendes, were at a convention to show nine minutes of new footage from the movie, based on the Marvel Comics superhero with a blazing skull and flaming motorcycle. An appreciative audience of about 200 whooped and applauded after seeing the footage. 
     "I'm still working on it," Johnson said. "There's still some rough stuff. There's some old footage on the Internet with some early effects, and this is a huge step up." 
Mendes admitted that she wasn't a comic-book fan, like her co-star Nicolas Cage, but became a fan after reading the script. "I want to thank Mark for not making me just the 'chick.' I think she's a modern-day powerful female role who still shows that she's vulnerable," she said. 
     Mendes added: "I think there's a superhero in me. I would watch Nic and say, 'Aw, why can't I be on fire?' I would like to be a superhero."

     A March 23 release date is set for its supernatural thriller Dead Silence, starring Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg and Bob Gunton. The film, directed by James Wan (Saw), tells the story of newlyweds Jamie (Kwanten) and Lisa Ashen, who have established a new life for themselves far from their hometown of Ravens Fair. When his wife is gruesomely murdered, Jamie reluctantly returns to Ravens Fair for the funeral, where he reunites with his ill father (Gunton) and his father's new young bride (Valletta). Jamie begins to explore the creepy town and encounters the legend of Mary Shaw, a famous murdered ventriloquist whose presence still casts a pall over Ravens Fair. 

     Columbia Pictures is developing a remake of Vincent Price's 1959 horror classic The Tingler. The studio, along with Neal Moritz's Original Pictures, has hired screenwriting team Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan to update the script. The pair is best known for writing the horror film Feast, which was chosen as the focus of the third season of Project Greenlight. 
     In the original Tingler, Price plays a mad scientist who discovers a creature that attacks people from inside when they are afraid. He uses the creature to literally scare people to death. Columbia and Moritz started developing the remake in 2003, with Greg Pace on board as screenwriter. But the project stalled and was inactive before Melton and Dunstan were brought on board. 

     Cartoon Network's animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force will be the first original show of the channel's late-night Adult Swim programming block to be turned into a feature film. The 86-minute film was written, produced and directed by co-creators Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis. 
     The film centers on the origins of Hunger Force characters Meatwad, Frylock and Master Shake and an immortal piece of exercise equipment threatening the balance of galactic peace, the trade paper reported. "It was too big a story to do in 11 minutes," Willis told Variety. "It's based on our fear of exercise equipment." 

     Fred Keller—whose television directing credits include SF dramas Day Break and the upcoming Raines—will direct the independent horror thriller Worst Nightmares. Keller has also done a rewrite of the script, originally written by Australian writer-actor Shane Briant. The story follows the ordeal of people killed in the manner of their own worst nightmares. Nightmares, which marks Keller's first major feature as a director, is due to start production this summer in Los Angeles. 


Movie Meanderings
By Dava Sentz
    The pre and post Christmas season is always filled with cinematic choices; some of it good, some of it bad, some of it strictly for the kiddies, and some of it very ugly. I wasn't able to fully indulge my movie wish list this season, but somehow I still managed to see a movie that, in one way or another, fit into every category described above...a happy little tale about a happy tap dancing penguin appropriately titled Happy Feet.
    Though I have certainly never had anything against penguins and have always found them quite cute, my affections for them have never stretched into a desire to watch them sing and dance for two hours on the silver screen. But, there was just something about Mumble. Was it his sweet personality? Was it the fact that he was an underdog? Was it his adorable feet? On the surface, yes, but there was something else at work...something in his voice...something familiar. 
   The main reason I was attracted to Mumble and his happy feet was because, underneath the fat belly and feathered wings lurked the body of Elijah Wood, a former blue-eyed hobbit who, over the years won the respect and admiration of Middle Earth as well as myself. This, along with a storyline that resembled Rudolph: The Red-Nosed Reindeer, was more than enough to get me into the holiday spirit.
     Over all, I enjoyed spending time with Mumble and his friends in their arctic world. EG Daily was adorably charming as Baby Mumble and, true to form, Robin Williams turned out a rather humorous performance, doubling as the voices of head "Amigo" Romon and penguin psychic Lovelace. 
     While it is cute and somewhat amusing to watch penguins sing and dance on the big screen, recent criticisms by the media were right to suggest that it was overdone. After all, what sets Mumble apart from his, to use the term loosely, friends and family is his lack of singing ability; the absence of a beautiful "heart song" that is supposed to attract the female penguin for mating. 
     What Mumble lacks in a voice he makes up for in feet, tap-dancing happy feet that beats its audience over the head with a message of hope; a message that says "I'm different and that's okay." I got the point immediately. There was no need to drag it out. 
      However, prior to seeing the film, I read another review denouncing the penguins for providing another message; Be kind to your planet. When excessive pollution begins to ruin his home, and the food supply to the penguin population, Mumble goes off in search of answers, using his tap dancing abilities to draw attention to us, the human race. 
     Attacking this movie for an overuse of singing and dancing is one thing, but now we're attacking a children's movie for expressing an environmental concern? Am I the only one who finds that unsettling? Shouldn't a message like that be viewed as positive? No matter how misguided or right on, the films drawbacks might be, this is still a cute and cuddly movie experience; one that I think children and adults alike will enjoy.



JAN 26th       DEAD SILENCE 
Cast: Leigh Whannell, Amber Valletta, Ryan Kwanten, Donnie Wahlberg
Premise:  A man is called home by his dying father, but tongueless corpses begin piling up all around the young man, who enlists a female friend from his high school days to figure out who's doing the gruesome killings.

Cast: Agnes Bruckner, Hugh Dancy, Oliver Martinex, Katja Rieman
Premise: With the Five on her tail, a young beautiful werewolf named Vivian seeks peace in the arms of Aiden while escaping the never-ending infatuation Gabriel has on her. But when a string of accidental murders happen, this threatens to rip and expose her pack apart.

Cast: Justin Chatwin, Margarita Levieva, Marcia Gay Harden, 
Premise: Nick, a high school senior is brutally attacked and left for dead. Now in limbo, not quite dead but invisible to the living, his spirit can only watch as his mother and 
the police search frantically for him, unaware that he is only hours away from truly perishing. A remake.

FEB 2nd          THE MESSENGER 
Cast:: Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett
Premise:  A family moves into a run-down sunflower farm. As the farm begins to revive after years of disrepair, the family begins to notice uncomfortable and alarming changes in their father's behavior.

Cast: Gaspard Ulliel, Gong Li, Rhys Ifans, Richard Brake, Kevin McKidd
Premise: In "Red Dragon" and "Silence of the Lambs" we learned who he was and how he thought. Now comes the elusive chapter in the life of Hannibal Lecter – the one that explains what we have asked – WHY did he do it? This is the story of the monster Hannibal Lecter's formative years. These experiences as a child and young adult led to his remarkable contribution to the fields of medicine, music, painting and forensics. 

FEB 16th              GHOST RIDER
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley, Sam Elliott
Premise: Long ago, superstar motorcycle stunt rider Johnny Blaze made a deal with the devil to protect the ones he loved most. Now, the devil has come for his due. By day, Johnny is a die-hard stunt rider... but at night, in the presence of evil, he becomes the Ghost Rider, a bounty hunter of rogue demons. Forced to do the devil's bidding, Johnny is determined to confront his fate and use his curse and powers to defend the innocent

farewellsfarewellsfarewells Good bye farewellsfarewellsfarewells

Yvonne De Carlo, the beautiful star who played Moses' wife in The Ten Commandments but achieved her greatest popularity on TV's The Munsters, has died. She was 84. 
De Carlo died of natural causes Jan. 8 at the Motion Picture & Television facility in suburban Los Angeles, longtime friend and television producer Kevin Burns said.. 
De Carlo, whose shapely figure helped launch her career in B-movie desert adventures and westerns, rose to more important roles in the 1950s. 
But for TV viewers, she will always be known as Lily Munster in the 1964-'66 slapstick horror-movie spoof The Munsters. 
Lily, vampire-like in a black gown, presided over the faux scary household and was a rock for her gentle but often bumbling husband, Herman, played by 6-foot-5-inch character actor Fred Gwynne (decked out as the Frankenstein monster). 
The show lasted only two years, but had a long life in syndication and resulted in two feature movies, Munster Go Home! (1966) and The Munsters' Revenge (1981, for TV). 
Before that, Cecil B. DeMille chose De Carlo to play Sephora, wife to Charlton Heston's Moses in The Ten Commandments. The following year she co-starred with Clark Gable and Sidney Poitier in Band of Angels as Gable's upper-class sweetheart who learns of her black forebears. 
De Carlo, who was born Peggy Yvonne Middleton in Vancouver, B.C., lived in semiretirement near Solvang, north of Santa Barbara. Her son Michael died in 1997, and she suffered a stroke the following year. 
Lois Hall, a veteran character actress and former leading lady to B-movie western stars Johnny Mack Brown, Charles Starrett and Whip Wilson, has died. She was 80 years old.
During her B-movie heyday, Hall appeared in westerns such as HORSEMEN OF THE SIERRAS with Starrett, COLORADO AMBUSH with Brown and NIGHT RAIDERS with Whip Wilson. 
She also starred in Republic Pictures' 1949 adventure tale DAUGHTER OF THE JUNGLE, played the Lady of the Lake in the 1949 Columbia serial THE ADVENTURES OF SIR GALAHAD, starring George Reeves; and appeared opposite Buster Crabbe in Columbia's 1950 serial PIRATES OF THE HIGH SEAS.
Her scores of television credits began in the 1950s with DICK TRACY, STUDIO ONE, THE RANGE RIDER, THE LONE RANGER, ANNIE OAKLEY and THE CISCO KID and include genre series THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, THE UNEXPECTED, STAR TREK:TNG and extend to more recent series such as SIX FEET UNDER, COLD CASE and LOST. She also had a recurring role in SONS & DAUGHTERS.

 Martin Nodell, the creator of Green Lantern, the comic book superhero who uses his magical ring to help him fight crime, has died. 
Nodell was looking for a new idea for a comic book in 1940 when he was waiting for a New York subway and saw a train operator waving a lantern displaying a green light. Nodell imagined a young engineer, Alan Scott, a train crash survivor who discovers in the debris an ancient lantern forged from a green meteor. Scott constructs a ring from the lamp that gives him super powers, and becomes a crime fighter. He brought his drawings and story lines to All-American Publications, which later became a part of National Periodical Publications, the company that was to become DC Comics.
The first Green Lantern appearance came in July 1940, in an eight-page story in a comic book also featuring other characters. The character then got his own series, and Nodell drew it until 1947 under the name Mart Dellon.
After its cancellation in 1949, the series was reborn in 1959 with a revised story line, and it has been revived several times. Meanwhile, Nodell left the comics field for an advertising career. In the 1960s, he was on a design team that helped develop the Pillsbury Doughboy.
He was 91.

Iwao Takamoto, the animator who designed the cartoon canine Scooby-Doo as well as characters on such shows as The Flintstones and The Jetsons, died Jan. 8 after suffering a massive coronary. He was 81. 
Takamoto died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was being treated for respiratory problems, said Gary Miereanu, a spokesman for Warner Brothers Animation. 
He designed Scooby-Doo, his equally famished and cowardly master Shaggy, and their pals Velma, Daphne and Fred in the late 1960s while working at the Hanna-Barbera animation studio. The Great Dane's name was inspired by an improvised line at the end of Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night." 
He also designed the snickering dog Muttley, who was featured in a number of productions, and Astro, the family dog on The Jetsons. For The Flintstones, he created the Great Gazoo, a green alien. 
Takamoto's death comes exactly three weeks after that of Hanna-Barbera co-founder Joseph Barbera, who was 95; Barbera's business partner, William Hanna, died in 2001.


by John Ward

 2006 was not a very spectacular year at the movies.  Warmed-over sequels carried the day, with pirates, mutants, animated cars, and dancing penguins scoring at the box office.  What can you say about a year when the biggest hits had numbers in the titles?  Around here, you call it business as usual.  I was pleased to note only one film in my Top 10 with a number in the title, and it most definitely was not a sequel.  I call that progress.
 For the past several years, I’ve averaged about 40 trips annually to the old multiplex.  I think that’s about normal for me these days.  Now that we’ve become a Netflix family, it’s a lot more convenient to stay home and watch what I want.  It’s the same old story:  prices keep going up, and I keep getting pickier.  I’m not ready to give up on the pleasures of the theater-going experience, but I admit it’s becoming easier to pass films by.  I used to see every piece of dreck that crawled into town; nowadays, I can’t afford it.  Which means a film I see in the theater is less likely to be a dog, and more likely to be worth my time.  But I was still able to award an “Allie” this year, thanks to No. 1 Son.  There’s quite a gap between my no. 1 film of the year and my “Allie,” although I have a suspicion that several of my top picks will not make most other lists.  But isn’t that the point?

 This one was a complete surprise.  It played Bawlmer for a short time earlier in the year, but I didn’t catch it until it hit video in the fall.  BRICK is an amazingly sure-footed film noir, with a tired gumshoe looking for the people responsible for the death of his ex-girlfriend.  There’s a mysterious mastermind, a femme fatale, thug henchmen, double crosses, and a situation that just seems to get bleaker and bleaker for our nominal hero.  Oh – did I mention that the whole thing is set in a suburban high school?  Joseph Gordon Leavitt, whose previous claim to fame was his role on the TV show Third Rock From the Sun, plays Brendan, a quiet slacker, trying to figure out why his ex-girlfriend was found dead in a drainage culvert.  Leavitt never once takes a false step as he navigates the murky world beyond the school, looking for answers, taking beatings, getting slammed around, yet never giving up.

 Horror made a strong showing on my list this year, beginning with this hilariously profane collection of gruesome scares, or as the hero sheriff nonchalantly put it, “That’s some pretty f$%ked-up s$%#t.”   If the ‘80s can be considered “old school,” then this is an old school creature feature, starring Firefly’s Nathan Fillion as Sheriff Bill Pardy, struggling to save his small Southern town from – well, there’s no other way to say it – slugs from outer space.  Said slugs are nasty little devils, fond of entering their human hosts’ bodies and taking them over, turning them into bloodthirsty crazies.  James Gunn, who wrote the well-received DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, made his directing debut here, and the results were a lot of fun.  If you haven’t seen it, I recommend the DVD, with some of the most laid-back behind-the-scenes features I’ve seen.

 Robert De Niro’s second directorial feature was sober-minded and leisurely paced, but incredibly engrossing – the history of the CIA, as seen through the eyes of one of its young members.  Matt Damon plays Edward Wilson, recruited from Yale’s secretive Skull and Bones Society to join the ranks of a fledgling “foreign service agency” at the dawn of World War II.  De Niro has a small role as the general who recruits Damon, and many top names play supporting roles, including Angelina Jolie, William Hurt, Michael Gambon, and Alec Baldwin.  Even De Niro buddy Joe Pesci shows up for one scene.  Damon plays the part in a very buttoned down, closed-off manner, and we watch as he sacrifices everything – a regular schedule, a family, a connection with his son – for the good of the agency.  Most of the action is told through flashbacks as Damon, deep into the Cuban Missile Crisis, thinks back over his career.  THE GOOD SHEPHERD is one of those movies that you can sink into, but you better be willing to pay attention.

 This movie was released on the very first weekend of the year, only a few days after I wrote my last Top Ten column; I didn’t expect it to still be on my list, yet here it is.  Eli Roth’s follow-up to his gross-out flick CABIN FEVER is just as gruesome, but tighter, more intense.  I thought it was the best of a relatively thin sub-genre of horror films known for their sleazy, sordid tone, like THE HILLS HAVE EYES, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, and the SAW movies.  It opens like a cheap sex comedy, with a couple of American students looking for girls while backpacking around Europe.  They’re lured to Bratislava on the pretext that the women are easy, but become victims of a nightmarish torture club.  This is definitely not the sort of film that wins awards, but within its genre, there was none better.

 The Internet made this movie, and the Internet effectively killed it, too.  What began life as a second-tier action thriller took on an entirely different meaning when bloggers, fanboys, and other assorted movie geeks made the film’s ingeniously obvious title a sensation.  Things got crazier when word leaked that the studio suits had demanded a recut that would actually make the film an even harder R, including star Samuel L. Jackson’s infamous dialogue about – umm – incestuous reptiles.  What got lost in the translation was the fact that the film achived exactly what it was meant to do:  deliver thrills in abundance.  SNAKES was a disaster movie for the new millennium, with FBI agent Jackson battling a planeload of poisonous snakes while trying to protect his charge, a witness to a Mob murder.  It died a fairly quick death at the box office, chiefly because it coldn’t live up to its own Internet hype.  But folks who stayed away missed out on a real roller coaster ride.

 I guess you could call this Mel Gibson’s comeback film, even though his previous directing gig netted hundreds of millions of dollars.  Then again, before this movie came out, ol’ Mel had a pretty crummy year.  APOCALYPTO saved it for him.  Like THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, Gibson’s new film used gorgeous photography, subtitles, and an unstintingly violent eye to memorably evoke another time and place.  This time, Gibson used a cast of unknowns to tell his exciting story.  Rudy Youngblood played Jaguar Paw, a young Mayan Indian separated from his pregnant wife and child and kidnapped by a more warlike tribe.  He escapes, the warriors give pursuit, and the last 45 minutes of the film were as suspenseful as anything else in the theaters this year.  The ending (which I will not give away, so relax) puts Jaguar Paw’s story into historical perspective.  Very well made.

 For the first time, I’ve included the same movie on my Top Ten list two years in a row.  Technically, THE DESCENT followed my primary listing rule, which states a film must be seen in the year it was released.  I saw Neil Marshall’s horror thriller during its initial release in London during the summer of 2005.  The film got great reviews in England, but had the misfortune of premiering right after the subway bombings.  People weren’t exactly in the mood for this kind of scare show.  Marshall fiddled with the ending a bit and released it stateside last summer; it still managed to top all other releases as the best horror film of the year.  Six women, all extreme sports enthusiasts, go caving in the Appalachians.  After a cave-in traps them a mile underground, the women realize they’re not alone; a race of subhuman creatures have targeted them for dinner.  THE DESCENT was unrelentingly grim and claustrophobic, definitely not for everyone’s tastes.  But horror fans couldn’t find a better time at the movies in 2006.

3. UNITED 93
 I thought long and hard about including this one on the list, but in the end, solid filmmaking won the day.  Director Paul Greenglass told his 9/11 story without taking a side, and his objective point-of-view proved to be a real advantage.  The story of the flight that went down in Pennsylvania didn’t need any fictitious embellishment to make it one of the most gripping of the year; its ending was a stark, sudden commentary on the events of the day, and viewers were left shaken.  Greenglass populated his film with a mix of no-names and real-life participants, and that  made the scenes even more believable.  I thought UNITED 93 did a better job than Oliver Stone’s perfectly acceptable WORLD TRADE CENTER of capturing the immediacy of the story, and no film last year was better at showcasing the inherent courage of the human spirit.

 From a film geek’s point of view, CASINO ROYALE had to be the year’s happiest miracle: a complete reinvention of the James Bond franchise, with almost unanimous worldwide acclaim.  (Nope, I didn’t see that coming.)  Daniel Craig put all fears to rest and made the Bond character his own, a simply incredible piece of acting that put him on a very small pedestal next to Sean Connery.  Longtime producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson decided to go back to basics, a decision that many of us had been demanding for years, and the results were electric: the creation of Bond as 007, licensed to kill, falling in love, losing at love and at the poker table (but not for long), butting heads with M (superbly played by Dame Judi Dench, the lone holdover from the Brosnan days), and keeping the thrills on an entirely human level.  Craig’s Bond no longer has to save the free world; he simply has to save himself.  One of the two purest film pleasures of the year…

 …and here’s the other.  Martin Scorsese returns to what he knows best: the human tragedy of organized crime.  THE DEPARTED is a remake of the Hong Kong crime thriller INFERNAL AFFAIRS, but Scorsese has made the story his own, setting it in Boston, telling the tale of two men on opposite sides of a cops-and-crime war, both of them undercover.  Leonardo DiCaprio plays a rookie cop infiltrating mob boss Jack Nicholson’s gang, while Matt Damon plays Nicholson’s protégé, already a cop, and reporting back to boss Jack.  Both men are assigned an impossible task: smoke out the informant (in other words, each other).  They don’t really meet until the final act, but for most of the film, they circle warily around each other, coming closer and closer to the truth, until the audience is left gasping at Scorsese’s filmmaking wizardry.  I feel exactly the same way about Scorsese that I felt about Peter Jackson in 2003 – if the man doesn’t finally win his Oscar, there really is no justice.

 Once again, a number of films fought hard to be included in my final ten, and when the smoke cleared and the dust settled, the following movies just missed the cut:  V FOR VENDETTA, INSIDE MAN, MONSTER HOUSE IN 3-D, WORLD TRADE CENTER, and even ROCKY BALBOA!

 Like I said before, it’s getting harder and harder to find a movie on my big list that qualifies as an unadulterated piece of crap.  For the most part, I’m usually able to find something good about almost anything, simply to justify the expense of the ticket.  These films made it easier to do just that.  I found something to like in GLORY ROAD, FINAL DESTINATION 3, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, THE SENTINEL, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: III, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, CARS, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST, TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY, INVINCIBLE, THE PRESTIGE, BORAT, and NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM.

 I think I’m going to start my own list of criteria for bad movies, and one rule that should be high on my list will be, “Movies that focus on dragons will almost always be bad.”  I wasn’t planning to see ERAGON, but No. 1 Son tugged at the ol’ guilt chain by saying, “Dad, I don’t want to see this movie with my friends; I want to see it with you.”  I had no defense for that, and I basically had no defense for the movie, either, a derivative mess that plenty of folks said ripped off THE LORD OF THE RINGS, but nothing could be further from the truth.  The movie that ERAGON really ripped off was STAR WARS.  A young orphan boy, raised by his uncle, spends his evenings looking at the sunset and pondering his destiny.  His uncle is killed by the bad guys, the kid falls in with a mentor who teaches him that he is the last in a long line of…oh, hell, if you can’t see STAR WARS through the trees, then you really are reading the wrong newsletter. And ERAGON was as wrong as a movie can be, the worst film I saw in theaters last year.




1. 24
4. Everything on LOST except for the flashbacks
5. The “Final Days” of THE WEST WING
6. Watching the Ravens destroy the Steelers twice in five weeks
7. The “Mac Vs. PC” commercial ads
9. The Emmy Awards (but mainly because of 24)
10. The reaction when Three 6 Mafia won the Best Song Oscar for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”


JAN 26th       DEAD SILENCE 



JAN 27th  ICS MEETING –Saturday at 5:30 P.M. 
                 We will have Rick Arnold’s presentation of a ground breaking TV show from the late 60’s. Part soap opera, part horror fun, come and learn about “Dark Shadows”.  Also, Club dues for 2007 are due and our annual elections will be held on this night.

 Dark Shadows 

FEB 2nd          THE MESSENGER 

FEB 4th  Star Wars Roadshow – at Odenton Library
From 1:30-4, email for more info (Or email Betsy.)


FEB 16th              GHOST RIDER

FEB 16-18       FARPOINT – Media Con, at Hunt Valley Inn. 
Special Guest:  RON GLASS "Shepherd Book", Firefly/Serenity

Feb 24 (*) Haunted House Movies, presented by Sam DiBlasi
March 31 Son of No-Stinkers Night, presented by John Ward
April 7 Field Trip to Geppi Museum at Camden Yards
April 21 (*) 100th Meeting  & Top 10 Genre Movies as picked by the club
May 26 ICS Cookout
June 30 (*)
July 28
August 25 (*)
September 30
October 27 (*)  Greg Mank Returns; Halloween Potluck Dinner & All-Nighter
November 17
December 29 (*)  Yankee Swap

(*) denotes Late Night Feature