/Filmcast Ep. 103 – Splice

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Splice PosterIn this week’s /Filmcast, David Chen, Devindra Hardawar, and Adam Quigley discuss the pleasures of Get Him To the Greek, praise the filmmaking of Exit Through the Gift Shop, and try to figure out whether or not The Usual Suspects holds up on repeat viewings. /Film editor-in-chief Peter Sciretta and /Film writer Russ Fischer join us for this episode.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us next week on Sunday night at Slashfilm’s live page as we review The A-Team.

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Next month, one of my favorite independent and more outspoken directors of late, Ti West, will begin shooting a follow-up to last year’s breakout hit about Satanic Panic The House of The Devil. Filming on location in Connecticut (where THotD was also shot) and entitled The Innkeepers, the film is said to follow “the last two staffers at a hotel that’s going out of business”—a hotel that may have ghostly occupants. When I previously emailed West to see if The Shining would be an influence and whether the film addresses “reality” tv shows like Ghost Hunters, he wrote back: “This movie incorporates and comments on the trend of those type shows etc. but is also a very classic ghost story. I’m psyched. I think it blends the classic ghost story style with a solid modern twist.  It will be really fun, fresh and scary.”

In a new chat with FearNet at SXSW, where West was speaking on a horror panel, he dished out more tidbits on the project. The haunted hotel that’s central to the story is actually the same hotel he and his crew stayed at while making THotD, and the plot will be informed by “a lot of [his] experiences there.” Similar to what he shared with /Film, West goes on to say The Innkeepers will be scarier than THotD, will also have a healthy number of jokes, and will “definitely be more commercial than THotD” but with an “indie sensibility that will make it unique.”

More details below. And we’ll go ahead and tack on a NSFW list of the top five things we dig about West’s Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, the super gory straight-to-DVD sequel he has disowned following creative differences with Lionsgate…

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/Filmcast Ep. 86 – From Paris with Love

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from_paris_with_loveIn this week’s episode of the /Filmcast, David Chen, Devindra Hardawar, Adam Quigley and Russ Fischer discuss their thoughts on this year’s Oscar nominations, reflect on the novelty of 3D upconversion, assess Taylor Lautner’s career, show some love for Drew Barrymore’s Whip It, and share theories about the final season of Lost.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us next week on Monday night at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST at Slashfilm’s live page as we review Wolfman.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

Buy It

ZOMBIELAND
The zombie film’s usual affixation to the horror genre has been broken. Even Shaun of the Dead acknowledged the unfortunate realities of a zombie outbreak, and in turn, its latter half yielded numerous intense and teary scenes. Zombieland is the first zombie film to not concern itself with such issues, exclusively embracing the fun side of the apocalypse. There’s an element of wish fulfillment to it, as the young, awkward protagonist finds himself—for the first time ever, and as a direct result of the aforementioned “atrocities”—in a position to lock down some hot poon. And you know, build a meaningful relationship and stuff. Moreover, the characters engage in frequent acts of gift store destruction, mansion plundering, and undead obliteration–all things that, putting aside the likelihood of your whole family being dead and all, would make living in a zombie-infested world pretty damn enjoyable. We may not get to experience the thrill of those experiences for ourselves, but coupled with the film’s energetic and stylish directional flair, it’s a joy to watch.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – Audio commentary with actors Woody Harrelson & Jesse Eisenberg, director Ruben Fleischer, and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, featurettes (“In Search of Zombieland”, “Zombieland is Your Land”), deleted scenes, Visual Effects Progression Scenes, and a Woke Up Dead Episode (“Up and At ‘Em”). Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as a “Beyond the Graveyard” Behind the Scenes Picture-in-Picture Track, and a digital copy of the film.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$16.99 $15.99 $15.77
Amazon – $17.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$24.99 $24.99 $23.77
Amazon – $23.99

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It’s a crazy, mixed up world and we are thankful for movies, sans The Tooth Fairy, that offer proof. /Film’s Weekend Weirdness examines such flicks, whether in the form of a new trailer for a provocative indie, a mini review, or an interview. In this installment: the perverse and obscure ’60s thriller, Who Killed Teddy Bear?, being shown tonight at NYC’s Anthology Film Archives; the doc, Nick Nolte: No Exit, which finds good ol’ Nick candidly Q&Aing himself on topics ranging from god to drugs. For a special Weekend Weirdness posted yesterday about the imaginative skateboarder fantasy Machotaildrop, click here.

Photographed above is a real deal, shrink-wrapped, limited-edition VHS for The House of the Devil, promoting its release on DVD/Blu-Ray early next month. It’s one of the coolest pieces of swag I’ve received for this column thus far; to my knowledge only a few peeps were sent one, including Devil-supporter Drew McWeeny at HitFix. And even fewer peers have watched the tape. Some are scared, others are sans VCR. I’ve seen last year’s best horror flick at least thirteen times now, so I’d rather keep it sealed. Similar to the wizard-bong approved THotD poster design by Kellerhouse last year, the VHS packaging has faux rental scruffs, in addition to a retro “new release” starburst. A disclaimer on the back reads, “Caution: This film contains Satanic references and graphic violence.” Haters would add: “…and so much pointless walking.”

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When 2009 is reflected on later, it won’t be the clunky, predictable Oscar-bait pics that standout but rather a new crop of outspoken auteurs that came into their own in ’09 with stealthy, highly confident fare. A charged determination and can’t-fail idealism is instilled in these directors that makes the filmmaking process once again exciting and truly daring: A young man’s game. Writer/director, Ti West, is one such auteur. Not yet 30 years of age, West has crafted a horror film with an attention to detail, sex appeal, color and sound so as to evoke the paranoid trips of early Roman Polanski and the vintage, pop-darkly appreciation of early Richard Linklater and Paul Thomas Anderson.

Bearing a title that is epic and playfully dry, The House of the Devil reconnects the horror genre with roots-y, genuine, teetering suspense. By doing so, West also manages to grasp viewers in the claws of doom by way of a foreboding graveyard or a pitch black basement, as opposed to, say, a phallic torture chamber aired simultaneously on forty live surveillance cameras. Stylistically, West forwent mining homage from the Grindhouse well—so exhausted this decade—and instead made a film set in the ’80s that not only looks period, but feels of it. The era’s mundane pace of life and lack of social interconnection can be sensed from the movie’s start and is incensed by the decade’s “Satanic Panic”: a media-exploited phenomenon that did for Satanism what coverage of the Zodiac Killer and Son of Sam did for serial killers in the ’60s and ’70s. At Devil‘s heart is the lead performance by newcomer, Jocelin Donahue, 27, who gets my vote for movie crush of 2009. Donahue plays Samantha, a smart, unsure college sophomore in dire need of a payday who eventually responds—in that ’80s way—to a nondescript babysitter flyer. No one ever said that $atan doesn’t have great taste.

From the way in which Donahue walks in high-waisted jeans to the way Samantha and her BFF eat and critique pizza, it’s a luscious thrill to witness such a dope actress and director get it and get it some more. Moreover, West appears supported by one of the cooler, simpatico filmmaking crews working in indie films today. Unlike the stereotypical proto-auteur of past and present, West’s horror movie shines as both the work of a driven perfectionist and a clear vision by a superlative collective; this enables the viewer to fall into, and fall in love with, all the creepy, masterful foreplay before West’s plot rocks wildly alongside a devilish eclipse. Afterward, I desired to open a pack of THoTD trading cards showcasing the film’s collaborators and characters alike rather than scan IMDB. Ti West discussed his creative process with /Film, as well as the film’s titular House, its mystic pizza, and why his experience helming the yet-to-be-released Cabin Fever 2 was an effing nightmare straight outta Hell Hollywood.

Hunter Stephenson: Hi Ti. I found this to be a very uncompromising horror film. I think what many are finding to their surprise is that The House of the Devil is not an homage to the ’80s a la Thanksgiving but a real period piece.

Ti West: Thanks, I’m glad you see it like that because that’s how I see it: as a period piece. I appreciate that. I mean, the film is basically about a cultural phenomenon in the 1980s, the Satanic Panic. So, I wanted to create a very accurate depiction of that and not do it tongue-in-cheek, or as a parody, because then people wouldn’t care about the characters in the movie. That’s why there’s a really nice primer to the beginning of the film [explaining the Satanic Panic, complete with statistics], because so much of the film is a contrast between a lot of realism and then these very fantastic horror elements. And that’s why, with the beginning, I wanted it to feel like this is something that could have really happened.

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Repeat the following name after me three times: Ti West. Ti West. Ti West. Pray that Hollywood doesn’t tuck him into its throbbing succubus and then wring his brilliance out into its rancid, gold spittoon gifted by Dubai. With The House of the Devil, one of the most gorgeous, sexy, and vital horror films in recent memory, the 29-year-old writer/director has bowled me over. I haven’t been this excited by an independent film from a new, uncompromising voice in modern cinema since Jody Hill‘s The Foot Fist Way. If you follow my work at /Film, oh shit, you know what that means: I might proceed to drive my unwieldy love-cart off a cliff that is this oncoming jump…so if you choose not to follow, I’ll leave you with an echo. “Take those greedy scumbags at Platinum Dunes hostage, tie them up at the bottom of a Lake and force them to watch THOTD a million times…Happy Halloween.” The pool will be good for Mr. Devin. This is the best horror film of 2009.

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After three viewings, I can say without a doubt that Ti West‘s The House of the Devil is a lock for my top five films of 2009, and for best horror film of the year. My review is taking a while, schedule permitting, because it’s difficult to express and explain just how perfectly THotD works as a gorgeous, genuinely creepy period piece rather than another witty homage to horror films past (a la Scream or Hatchet). Magnolia, currently red hot on the indie scene, will release the film in limited theaters on Halloween, but it’s quietly been made available for rental on Amazon and VOD (at least in some markets, I’ve seen a few complaints).

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