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According to Deadline minutes ago, the Weinstein Company has temporarily (permanently?) pulled the plug on pre-production for Halloween 3D. With rumors circulating today throughout the industry that Summit Entertainment, flush with Twilight monies, might pursue an acquisition of TWC, this is not a good look. Sources tell Nikki Finke that TWC simply believed the production schedule was too fast—November ’09 start for a summer ’10 bow—only after receiving the script today. In the meantime, haters of Rob Zombie‘s recent Halloween II will be glad to hear that TWC is re-releasing the $31m grossing sequel on Halloween, news that demands the following: Derrrr.

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With the Weinstein Company skating on financial ice, even with Inglourious Basterds breaking $100m domestic, the Brothers Weinstein are once again placing their bets on horror. As they should: their success has long been tied to the genre in addition to Oscar pics. Now that Rob Zombie is finished retooling the Halloween franchise—his sequel dropped by 70+ percent this weekend—Dimension and Bob Weinstein have announced a new writer/director for the next unrelated installment: Halloween 3D. Fangoria parlays that they’ve tapped Patrick Lussier to helm the first 3D outing of Michael Myers, due to start production for a quick 2010 release.

Lussier is riding off of the tidy hit that was My Bloody Valentine 3D, and he’s been a go-to editor for the Weinsteins’ horror pictures dating back to Scream in ’96. Expect a more accessible, give-’em-what-they-want slasher outing. Dimension has also announced a new theatrical remake of Stephen King‘s The Children of the Corn. Labor Day just got better for one guy! They’ve hired major screenwriter, Ehren Kruger, forever co-responsible for Transformers 2 (also: Scream 3), to re-haul the franchise. If, unlike us, you’re not yet muttering in a daze of muckkity muck like Col. Kurtz, more details after the jump.
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Over the weekend, the conclusion to Rob Zombie‘s fresh take on the franchise, Halloween II, grossed $17 million. Budgeted at $15 million, the sequel would likely have grossed much more if not for direct competition with the weekend’s top movie and debut, The Final Destination 3D (a very healthy $28m). Today, the rebounding Weinstein Company announced a new, eleventh installment that is already in the planning stages. Entitled, not-so-curiously, Halloween 3D, it’s slated for release next summer.

According to the LA Times, Dimension‘s Bob Weinstein offered that Zombie would not be back, as expected per his upcoming The Blob, and that a new director is in talks, one with experience in horror and a “different take” on Michael Myers. Note: /Film commenter, DrChicago, guesses that Alexandre Aja (High Tension) may be the director in line to take over the franchise. This is a great guess because Aja is currently finishing up Piranha 3D for Dimension and is not officially booked for another project; then again, Piranha is due April ’10, so would Aja really have two 3D horror films from the same studio released so close together?

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Post-Screening Update: In short, my verdict on Halloween 2 is that it’s superior to Rob Zombie‘s first effort and a far more entertaining film. Zombie definitely listened to criticism that the first film wasn’t holiday-oriented. In this one, he stages a trippy Last Supper with Jack-o-Lanterns. And moreover, it works for chrissakes. The critics labeling the film a by-the-numbers “rote slasher picture” either didn’t see the movie or haven’t been paying attention to recent  ”rote” horror flicks like Prom Night and Platinum Dunes‘ stillborn Friday the 13th.

I ask these critics to show me a comparable “rote” horror film this well-shot that stars the excellent Brad Dourif (Blue Velvet, John Huston’s Wise Blood) reminiscing about Lee Marvin. Or how about one with a fun Malcolm McDowell thinly and hilariously disguising contempt for movie journalists who trash certain directors with trigger-happy aimlessness. The early hospital scenes set to The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” make for only one of the sweet, sweet uses of music therein. Sidenote: I enjoyed seeing actress Silvia Jeffries‘ (Tracy on Eastbound & Down) play a stripper who receives a priceless tip from Michael. Like most, I was worried that Sheri Moon Zombie would take a sizable Yoko-like chunk out of the movie, but she’s merely a muse to Michael (and Zombie) here. And sure, the dream sequences are different from previous Myers installments, but is that a bad thing? They add genuinely creepy flourish to Zombie’s grisly murder scenes. It’s only been an hour since my screening let out, but I’d say this is the second best Halloween movie in existence: inferior to John Carpenter‘s first (obviously!) but better than Rick Rosenthal‘s original sequel. I doubt the critics hating on this movie (and Zombie, for whatever reason) can debate my closing statement. And tellingly so. Rob Zombie put Laurie Strode in a Black Flag shirt and dragged her to hell. And I liked it!! And it makes me wonder: are sites like CHUD and STYD, that profess love for horror, this out of touch per the genre? They really prefer the dated Abercrombie bottle blondes of Platinum Dunes to Zombie’s girls, who for Halloween go as guys dressed as girls and leave parties to shag a werewolf in a van? Weird.

Set Visit Report: Earlier this year, /Film went down to Georgia to visit the set of Rob Zombie‘s Halloween II. The sequel to 2007′s remake was shooting in a quaint, charming town called Newborn—an hour or so outside of Atlanta—that is tucked behind sprawling farmland and reached by hilly roads outlined in dead trees. Spring was in session, but outside it was already chilly and the approaching darkness and anticipation made it feel like Halloween night. After spending an hour completely lost and staring at a cow in search of cell phone reception, /Film finally reached the set. A handful of other peers including STYD’s Ryan Rotten joined us as we piled into a van and drove down a dark street to watch what publicists said was a climatic action piece in the film.

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While on the set of Halloween 2 earlier this year, an acquaintance and I witnessed a night scene in which a helicopter hovered above Michael Myers.  We witnessed this scene again and again and again. On the first few takes, we laughed at the bizarre noise (and at the sheer giddy thrill of hangin’ in Haddonfield) being yelled by the towering actor Tyler Mane as Myers in said scene—I won’t reveal further details at this time. However, after about the fifth take, and against the whirring of a ‘copter and an excruciating windchill, it seemed like Michael Myers was in fact emitting a single, fully-constructed word. Shock, horror. Dear Zombie detractors, no, it was not a curse word delivered with backwoods panache. Nor was it “Boo!”—the virgin utterance once prescribed to Myers and later scrapped altogether in Zombie’s first remake. But hearing Myers, a silent horror icon a la Jason, speak for the first time was simply off-putting. “Caveman” jokes were exchanged next to heat lamps.

We immediately went around and checked in with several people involved on the production. We were told that Myers was simply emitting a grunt. At that hour and temperature, the explanation seemed fair enough. And if it was a word? It was merely a performance-enhancer to later be edited out. Well, about an hour ago, Rob Zombie posted the following on Twitter: “Off to meet Tyler for some Michael Myers ADR. Sleeping some day would be great.” As STYD has pointed out, ADR means additional dialogue recording. (Note: STYD’s editor, Ryan Rotten, was on the set as well.) So, what’s the deal?

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Last month, /Film visited the set of H2 (Halloween 2). After flying into Atlanta, Georgia, a colleague and I followed a publicity firm’s map and drove far out into the country, down winding roads encased by high trees that exhaled into healthy farmland. The sun was setting, the temperature was cooling, and our cell phones were no longer getting reception. We were lost. We finally came to a local cop car blocking a road, lights on spin. The cop exited—he was alive—and said, “Here for the movie?” and pointed us in the direction of Haddonfield, a fictional town that millions of people all over the world have watched Michael Myers terrorize for years.

Since 2007, the grisly lore of Haddonfield has rested in the determined hands of writer/director Rob Zombie. And in my opinion, so does the current state and fate of the American horror film, an institution predictably oft-sniffed at, but that is vital to our culture. As exemplified in our epic interview—divided into two parts—Zombie is a filmmaker who is unapologetically forthright about detractors of his vision for Halloween and horror, and much more. There is great irony to be found in that so many 20somethings wake up to Zombie’s music cuing The Howard Stern Show, and that the same guy is creating cinema that aspires to haunt our grandkids’ nightmares more so than the last president. (Click here for part two of the interview.)

Hunter Stephenson: In December, it was officially announced that you were on board for the sequel. So, between then and the release date this August, you have had to write, cast, prep, shoot and now you guys are editing. That’s such a small window. When you first sat down to write the script, where did you want to go with Myers and this new mythology you created?

Rob Zombie: Well, I looked back at the first film and I thought, What would be the most realistic fall-out from the events that occurred previously? So, I started with Laurie Strode. The reality now is this: here is a girl who wakes up, her parents are murdered, most of her friends are murdered, and she finds out her brother is the person who killed everybody. What is the reality of that? What does that do to a person? I felt it would be much more interesting this time to make Laurie this dark, damaged character. And everyone else too.

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We’ll be posting my rather epic interview today with Rob Zombie shortly. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt in which he clears up misconceptions surrounding Michael Myers “mask-less ratio” in H2 (Halloween 2). You may recall previous reports that Myers will go mask-less for 70% of the film. But as Zombie emphasized in good humor, the editing process has just started on the sequel, rendering the figure moot…

/Film: I think what has sparked the most controversy so far over the sequel is the mask. Once that statistic hit the Net that had Michael only wearing the mask for 30% of the movie, it was on. To be honest, it sounded like bullshit to me, so I didn’t report it. …Would you care to clarify?

Rob Zombie: It is total bullshit. [laughs] See, I think Wayne Toth [SFX] said [70% mask-less] when you guys were down on the set. Wayne wasn’t bullshitting you, but that was taken out of context, and to an extreme [online]. We’ve filmed so much stuff and at this point nobody but me knows what we’re going to use or not use. There are more shots of Michael Myers running around in his mask in this movie than in any of the other movies. I don’t think anybody has to worry. Yeah. Michael Myers never looked so good. [laughs]

Zombie also expressed complete disdain for all prior Halloween sequels, calling them “pathetic.” It’s a pretty candid interview. Some fans will be disappointed to learn that Tyrannosaurus Rex will most likely not be Zombie’s next film due to—per the interview—Hollywood’s current appetite for unoriginal, toned-down fare. After the jump we have the latest one-sheet for H2, released today.

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The first trailer for Rob Zombie‘s H2 has premiered on Yahoo Movies. The nitpicking over canon is inevitable, but I find this trailer to be quite strong and, in parts, genuinely unsettling. Zombie clearly isn’t preoccupied with horny teens, and for the horror genre, that’s a damn good thing. The many looks of Michael Myers in the film are glimpsed. From the cloaked “giant,” to the new version of the mask (which is weathered, almost Ed Gein-esque), alongside flashbacks of young Michael, and even stranger shots near the end, it’s all here.

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