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Good day, swearers off all things goody-goody. Horror wasn’t exactly blowing up theaters this past weekend, with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ruling over all. (To be fair, Apes had a few sequences that were more harrowing than the entirety of many Hollywood horrors.) TV fans have something to look forward to, though, with FX’s The Strain premiering. Plus, Snowpiercer hit VOD, and while it isn’t quite horror, it features some pretty horrific (and fantastic) situations, and needs your eyeballs.
Likewise, it wasn’t a huge week for horror news - but all horror news is good news in one way or another. Here are some of the week’s smaller stories. Picturehouse announced they’ll be releasing Adam Wingard’s thriller The Guest into theaters on September 17th, while Universal Home Entertainment is pushing the hyped found-footage werewolf horror WER straight to video on September 23, with a different VOD date to be announced. And fans of the hyper-indie comedic thriller Community Service: The Movie will be pleased to discover that director Joseph Kelly is following that film up with Bloody Island, which will move the action to an abandoned amusement park, because of course. Watch the film’s Kickstarter promo below.
And now, a story about that one guy who was crazy enough to remake Psycho.
Gus Van Sant Rumored to Helm Death NoteDeath Note, the extremely popular Japanese manga series from Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata, has seen just about every kind of adaptation possible within its home country, yet the U.S. still hasn’t presented a watered-down version to the world yet. We’d been waiting on Iron Man 3 director Shane Black to get it going after he joined the project back in 2011, but Black’s career has blown up all over again, and Tracking Board reported earlier this week that the Oscar-nominated director Gus Van Sant is taking over the project.
While his most prestigious films have been Good Will Hunting and Milk, Van Sant’s Elephant and Paranoid Park were excellent thrillers presented almost as non-thrillers, remaining nerve-wracking all the same. Death Note centers on a high schooler who finds a notebook that allows its possessor to kill anyone they wish, and the detective who aims to stop the teenager’s body-dropping new world order. It’s hard to think of two filmmakers with visions as different as Van Sant and Black, who wrote the current version of the screenplay with Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry. Let's wait and see how real this is before we start freaking out over what Death Note’s "last days" will bring us.
Kate Beckinsale and Game of Throne’s Rose Leslie Join Big ProjectsYou know what horror movies don’t have enough of? British and Scottish accents. Thankfully, two pieces of casting news are here to fix that. First up is Underworld star Kate Beckinsale joining director DJ Caruso’s The Disappointments Room, a psychological thriller "in the vein of The Shining," according to Deadline. Beckinsale will play a mother who moves into a dream home with her 5-year-old son and husband David, and soon discovers a secret room in the attic that bring the home’s haunted past back to the present. The script was written by former Prison Break star and Stoker scribe Wentworth Miller, which has just the kind of "might be a good thing" vibe as everything else.
Meanwhile, Rose Leslie (who played the wild child Ygritte on Game of Thrones) will co-star with Vin Diesel in Summit’s supernatural action flick The Last Witch Hunter. Directed by The Crazies’ Breck Eisner, The Last Witch Hunter will see Diesel playing an immortal-ish hunter who is forced to team up with a female witch – his worst nightmare! – in order to stop a ruthless witch queen from using an ancient relic to destroy mankind. Not only will Leslie kick some ass alongside Diesel, but she’ll also be his love interest, per THR. That might be creepier than anything else going on in anybody's cauldrons.
Saw Franchise’s Darren Lynn Bousman Angers Aliens in Sci-fi Thriller ApexAfter sitting behind the camera for the first three Saw sequels, director Darren Lynn Bousman has unleashed a series of mostly forgettable genre flicks like The Barrens and 11-11-11, with Repo! The Genetic Opera as his most notably original effort. So it’s with only the most extreme form of curiosity that we consider Bousman’s presumed next project, the sci-fi action thriller Apex, which aims to bring gritty realism to the world of bombastic 1980s action movies. The comparative match-up here is "Predator meets Call of Duty," and I’m intrigued.
Apex centers on an American Special Ops team that is sent to North Korea to retrieve a WMD - only the weapon is sent to another planet, and the Special Ops team soon find themselves taking on a dangerous alien race. Bousman, who is technically only attached at this point, wants to turn the James Cavanaugh-written screenplay into a transmedia property, saying that it’s "franchisable outside the movie universe." I don’t know how that will happen, but I’m perfectly fine with watching action-heavy sci-fi with an eye on realism. Bousman certainly knows how to deliver big visuals, and I’m hoping this will be his most accomplished work yet.
Housebound Trailer Lives Up to New Zealand Horror ExpectationsOkay, so perhaps the early splatter-filled films of Peter Jackson don’t stand for the entirety of New Zealand horror cinema, but that genre-mashing approach is definitely present in the trailer for Gerard Johnstone’s haunted house dark comedy Housebound. (And no, it’s not just because Jackson’s name is present here, below his "Bloody Brilliant" blurb.) The film debuted at this year’s SXSW and came away with some of the best horror reviews of the fest, which all referenced a deeper level of humor than this trailer gives away. But if they want to sell it is more of a legitimate thriller to bring in viewers with stigmas against the "horror comedy" sub-genre.
It's a somewhat unoriginal premise, as Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) plays a rebellious lawbreaking young woman who gets sentenced to eight months of house arrest, and living with her wet blanket of a mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) does not present an optimal situation for either woman. To make matters worse, Miriam is convinced that the large old home is haunted, which sets the stage for this unlikely tag team to take on whatever threats are hiding behind the walls. (And I love that wallpaper-infused title card.) Unfortunately, XLrator Media hasn’t yet set any domestic release dates, but those with access can catch it at the New Zealand International Film Festival on July 26.
Dave Bautista Tells Danny Trejo a Joke in L.A. Slasher ClipAdmittedly, I didn’t realize that Martin Owen’s comedic dark thriller L.A. Slasher existed before this week, and it’s not at all clear just how far into horror territory it will go, and this clip is probably the least horror-related promo imaginable…but it’s motherfuckin’ Dave "Batista" Bautista telling motherfucking’ Danny Trejo a dirty joke. In other words, it’s 40 of the most well spent seconds of your day, regardless of if you’ve heard this old chestnut or not.
Beyond Trejo and Bautista (whose acting career may soon explode with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy), the film as a fantastically mishmashed cast, including Eric Roberts, Brooke Hogan, Mischa Barton, Andy Dick’s voice, Marisa Lauren and porn star Tori Black (as "The Teen Mom"). The plot involves the titular Slasher, who publicly abducts reality TV stars - and people wonder if it matters. That’s one of the most morbidly relatable feelings in the world, and I’m looking forward to seeing a full trailer for L.A. Slasher when it hits.