Gore v. chills at the box office

I keep reading that the studios are reducing their outputs and that we’ll be seeing fewer new movies, but there’s sure no sign of it lately as we have another complicated week where, at least in theory, anything can happen. Still, the prognosticators agree that the latest entry in the first and longest running franchise in the sub-genre of torture-heavy horror, “Saw VI,” will likely win the week for Lionsgate.

On the other hand, there is also a consensus that the low-violence yet entirely potent chills of “Paranormal Activity” will be cutting into the Saw-bucks some also. Obviously, there is some audience crossover but, just as obviously, the most jaded gore hounds may find it beyond tame. I’ve already noted online the start of an inevitable backlash. I doubt this reaction will have the same angry potency that afflicted “The Blair Witch Project” so many moons ago. In that case, Lionsgate’s attempt to persuade less-savvy audiences that it might actually be real probably backfired later on, as did the over-hype of some of the early write-ups.

This time, Paramount has been more cleverly circumspect than the “Blair Witch” marketers, simply making the case that the modest video-movie can really scare the bejesus out of an audience. I’m here to tell you it can, even though I feel sure that not a single person I saw it with was under any delusion that what we were watching was not staged. Still, you see the violence-loving fanboys complaining at certain sites. I mean, how can a movie be scary if it lets you imagine the worst of it? How is that ever going to work?

It’s probably pretty obvious by now, especially from my post just before this one, that I prefer the “Paranormal” approach and will be rooting for it but, despite the still growing excitement around the movie, it’s the definite underdog as “Saw VI” will be opening in 3,036 theaters, while it’s competitor will be expanding to a mere 1,900. However, the outstanding per-screen averages that the film has been nailing could compensate if some horror audiences find the prospect of yet another ultra-brutality fest less than ultra-appealing.

Though it’s yet another family-friendly CGI animated film, this one based on a property at least some of us remember from our childhoods, hopes are not all that astronomically high for the next film. Summit’s “Astro Boy” is based on the best known creation of Japan’s “God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka, who basically invented both manga and anime as we now know them and who created some of the best comic books for adults that I’ve ever read. Of course, you’d never know from the horrendously lame gag at the end of the trailer or the often ugly CGI animation that ruins the beautiful 2-D (black and white, too!) of the early Tezuka cartoons as scene in the trailer. This appears to be another case of a studio adapting a property and missing what made the original work.

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10 Vampire Films That Should Be Made In The Wake Of The Success of “Twilight”

“Twilight” is shaping up to be a full-fledged film phenomenon…and whenever there’s a phenomenon, you can count on Hollywood trying to reproduce it quickly and in sub-par fashion, so prepare for a huge glut of new vampire-themed movies in the very near future.

The good news in this case, however, is that there’s a lot of great source material out there already, so let’s hope at least a few of the suits have good taste when it comes to buying up the rights to adapt certain books to film form…but since we have a really bad feeling that they don’t, we figured we’d throw a few suggestions their way for vampire flicks we’d like to see made. And, yes, we know that our #1 pick isn’t a book, but it’s so far ahead of the pack when it comes to the must-make vampire movies that we put it there, anyway.

(P.S. The movie adaptation of Darren Shan’s “Cirque de Freak” is finished and due for release in February 2009, or else it’d be on this list for sure.)

10. “Bloodsucking Fiends,” by Christopher Moore. Not only is this a solid mixture of horror and humor, focusing on a hot young redhead who moves to San Francisco, is promptly bitten by a vampire, and has to learn to adapt to her new lifestyle, but it already has a sequel ready to roll. Better yet, it’s called “You Suck”!
9. “Fevre Dream,” by George R.R. Martin. Are you kidding? I’m a fan of pretty much anything written by the guy who created the “Wild Cards” series, but this novel about vampires on a steamboat has earned reviews which feature the phrase “Bram Stoker meets Mark Twain,” which is high praise by most people’s standards.
8. “Lost Souls,” by Poppy Z. Brite. Maybe it’s just because I enjoy pretty much any film revolving around a band, but I’d love to see the adventures of Lost Souls? make it to the big screen.
7. “Jonathan Barrett, Gentleman Vampire,” by P.N. Elrod. It’s set during the American Revolution, with Barrett on the side of the British. Surely the success of HBO’s “John Adams” has made history cool again, and what better way to make it even cooler than to add vampires to it?
6. “Riley Jensen, Guardian,” by Keri Arthur. A half-vampire, half-werewolf in Australia who works for Melbourne’s Directorate of Other Races. “Underworld” meets “Torchwood,” anyone? I’m sold already.
5. “Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter,” by Laurell K. Hamilton. It’s already got a huge fan base between the sixteen novels and various comic books, but for those who don’t know Ms. Baker, she can re-animate the dead, licensed vampire hunter/executioner, and she has a lot of sex. I’m simplifying, of course, but, hey, it got your attention, didn’t it?
4. “They Thirst,” by Robert R. McCammon. The dastardly Prince Vulkan, master of the vampires, is hell bent on taking over Los Angeles as part of his quest to transform the entire population of the planet into the undead. Their opposition? A police captain, a comedian, a reporter, a junior high school student, and a Catholic priest who’s a former heroin addict and has just been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
3. “Carrion Comfort,” by Dan Simmons. Actually, this is such an epic tale that it might warrant a full-fledged mini-series rather than just a film.
2. “Vampire Academy,” by Richelle Mead. Rose Hathaway is a half-vampire / half-human teenager who’s simultaneously finishing high school and training to fight evil vampires determined to destroy the Moroi vampire race, a.k.a. the good vampires. Bonus superhero-ish aspect: each Moroi can control an element, either fire, earth, water, air, or – on rare occasions – spirit.There are two other books in the saga, with a fourth set for release next year. Surely someone has already started work on a script, because it seems tailor-made for a film.
1. “Angel.” Come on, Joss, you and I both know that the time couldn’t be more right. The kids love the vampires, and although David Boreanaz is on his fourth season of “Bones” and has now officially escaped permanent typecasting, he ain’t getting any younger, so if he’s going to play the immortal undead, it’s time to make your move and make an “Angel” movie. In fact, while you’re at it, you might as well go ahead and make it a big ol’ epic that incorporates “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as well. We’re really excited about “Dollhouse,” Mr. Whedon, but, c’mon, it’s Fox. Your schedule will be free and clear within a few weeks of its premiere, so let’s go ahead and get this ball rolling right now.

  

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