Archive | May, 2012

Grunting at the Screen (92)

27 May



The information age has not yet finished with us



We liked Chronicle and we are interested in everything its writer, Max Landis, does next.

And, with everyone trying to get a piece of his magic, he’s been very busy.  One of the many projects on his plate is yet another of those fairy tale projects.  After many years of neglects, the film and television industry has gone wild, raiding their nineteenth century European folk heritage (Notwithstanding Disney recently cancelling its own reboot of Snow White). Landis is taking another punt at The Pied Piper. He wants to give it a bit more bite and is describing it as Beauty and the Beast with less music and more blood. Cool.


Ridley Scott’s documentary series, Prophets of Science Fiction will be coming to Quest (a division of the Discovery Channel) this summer. It will run every Sunday from 3rd June, 9.00pm BST.

According to the early press release the eight episode series paid tribute to science fiction creators both literary and cinematic from people like Isaac Asimov to George Lucas (and hopefully plenty in between.) Each episode features one Science fiction visionary.

When it was first announced in spring 2011, I expressed surprise, not a lot of people know this but Scott is not an especially big fan of science fiction.

In retrospect the TV series approximately coincides with the beginning of the Prometheus project. The series was announced in January; Scott is on set filming spaceship interiors by April.  I cannot help but wonder if there is some causal link between the facts.

Of course the studios have been trying to get Ridley involved with some kind of Alien related project for years.  Did the TV series tilt him in the direction of directing the project?

I can imagine a scenario where making the series brings him into contact with one after another professional who tells him he’s responsible for changing the face of science fiction (twice.) And After a while, he believes it.

On the other hand. January is close enough to April to imagine he’d already decided to directs Prometheus and this gives him the perspective to ask just what it is about Science fiction that people (and not just some people, as Avengers is currently proving)  find compelling.

In any case something changed. It is not as if he was never asked, his reply to the question if he’s make anther science fiction film was to say he hadn’t come across a compelling enough story. (Bizarre, and a little disconcerting, considering the plethora of classics the world of genre literature has to offer.) After 32 years of demurring he suddenly is in full tilt mode and ‘though no-one knows if the Blade Runner sequel will actually see production, he’s making a real effort.

What happened? What changed?

Well, taking of the Blade Runner sequel,  it’s time for more wild speculation. We talked about possible visual directions and music last post. This time; concepts and stories.

Without a doubt there will be new elements, what they will be no -one can say. And there will also be the return of much of the previously seen ideas.

But what of the old ideas that never made the original film. There were a whole lot of them, many left out for budgetary consideration, with a decent budget and modern CGI, this may no longer be a barrier.

Let’s looks at some: Originally there was a plot twist where the person Roy Batty kills  at the Tyrell building turns out to be a replicant and the real Eldon Tyrell turns out to be near death in a hidden cryogenic facility. That could be explored. Computers were to have a much greater role in the plot, especially in the role of detecting and solving crime (think near-future CSI) all that remains of this is the Esper search in the original film, this could easily be expanded without explanation. There were also to be scenes set outside of the city in the wasteland where Deckard retires older model replicants then comes back to the city by a train. Ridley could take the opportunity recover much of this unused material. Although I doubt he will work in David Peoples’ sequence which shows Roy Batty (or indeed any replicant) emerging from a vast off-world refuse pile. This is one scene that has been grabbed and appropriated over and over again, in David People’s own Soldier, in Battle Angel Alita (Manga and Anime) and even the recent Bollywood robot epic Enthian.


The War on Terror has produced its share of movie flops, even critically acclaimed flops.

Director Simon West is adding, hoping to turn this trend around with his own contribution Thunder Run , set in the earliest days of the Iraq War. He’s going the action movie route. I wouldn’t be hugely interested except for one thing, he’s going the Avatar route and shooting it all greenscreen and motion tracking.


They say it’s cheaper. Really?

I’m not even going into the economics of adapting Jim Cameron’s three hundred million dollar system down to make it a viable alternative to say shooting it all in Tunisia (the way Ridley Scott did it in Black Hawk Down.)

My question is, will it every look good? Baghdad is not Pandora, it’s not that alien. And is this the beginning of a trend? Have film makers moved from creating the impossible to replacing reality entirely? 



All the lousy movies, where do they all come from?

Now I am not talking about the mainstream movies, driven by commercial considerations. I speak of the almost invisible art form. Cheap straight to video films.

They don’t get much coverage in the mainstream websites, even the specialised blogs often miss them. But I’ve seen them and so have you, they are there on the shelves at the supermarket: Russian war movies, low budget action movies, shoestring horror movies and inexplicably, so many dragon movies. Seriously, why so many? It’s not as if there has ever been a huge hit dragon movie. When I noticed this weird trend, I was intrigued. I didn’t want to see any of them, but I realised, If CGI was so cheap we could get a flood of Dragon pics, then cheap science fiction could not be far behind.

And it’s not.

I’m going to try to find a low budget Science fiction movie of recent release every post and say a few words about it.

Personally I’d like to see more giant robot movies, but until then consider this. Humanity’s End, rumours are it cost less than a couple of hundred grand. Directed by  Neil Johnson, this one dates back to 2008, but is only now getting a British release.

It is the generic future, humanity has been driven to the edge of extinction a race of aliens called by the Nephilim. A small band of the remaining humans have gathered in a creaky old space ship. Among them is one man carrying the sperm of the greatest genius who ever lived (and he is eager to share it, oh dear.) 

Despite this, I gather it it’s not some kind of sex comedy but an action adventure of some kind.

I don’t blog trailers very often but you should avail yourself of this.

I’ve been told it’s better to be silent and let people think you a fool. The same goes for trailers. If your cinematography sucks, your green screen work is inept and your CGI doesn’t even meet the standard of Videogame cut-scenes, don’t announce it all in the trailer. It is a classic case of more is most definitely less.



It seems Iron Sky will get a run longer than a single day (sorry, my bad). In the meantime really surpassing news. Despite the negative reviews (and lack of Box office reports) it will get a sequel… and a prequel.

Go Figure.

The story will be continued in the Cinema. but the road to Nazis on the moon will be shown in a three part TV series.


Finnish director Timo Vuorensola’s fascination will all things Nazi continues with‚ I Killed Adolf Hitler, a time travel story where a modern assassin goes back in time inadvertently allowing the Fuhrer to escape to our era.



Well get the heck out. It feels like five years since we first heard the RZA was going to make a kung fu movie produced by Eli Roth.

Well, we have news that The Man with the Iron Fist is in the can. It’s in audience testing at the moment so no news about distribution. More news as it develops.



How wrong, how wrong I was. I was all ready to break forth with a tirade on how the failure (a pretty shaky failure, it made hundreds of  millions of dollars) of John Carter had meant the death of space science fiction on film, but this is not so at all.

As evinced by the latest deal at Warner Brothers. It’s called The Wind, and it’s been written by David Koepp, and not much is known about it except it is to set aboard a space colony.

Warners have been trying to bring a space project to the screen with little success, trying previously with Sam Worthington and Eric Roth.



The Tide of Navy SEAL based movies continues with Sniper, to star Bradley Cooper, it’s about the marksman with the highest number of kills for an American. Well if it actually gets made, Bradley Cooper has crashed and burned out of some high profile films lately.



Movies based on Videogames get a raw deal, they reach the screen with built in negative assumptions. Even the best of them like Resident Evil (yeah, I said that) fail to attract critical approval.

More significantly, most of the proposed projects fail to reach the screen at all.

Even massively successful games are stuck in development hell for years.

Case in point, one of the least expected revivals has been Shadow Of The Colossus, it is now in the hands of man of the moment, Josh Trank. This project has been knocking around for years, and I’d assumed it was dead and buried.


It is not the only game to recently pop out of the wasteland.

Driving game Need for Speed is back in play. Dreamworks is in negotiation with Scott Waugh to direct it.


Having both pop up at once gave me pause. Both are classic games, but both are classic games. They have been around for a while, in development for years, arousing the hopes of they fanbases for years. And it occurs to me that there is a fundamental mismatch between the film and game world. A mismatch in their business cycles. Films take years to make (as do games) more significantly   films take years to finance, a period in which no actual film making is happening.  Meanwhile Games turn around in a couple of years. Games flare up and disappear unless they have successful sequels.

Bu the time major movies come to screen the best years of a game may be behind it, taking its fanbase with it.

Perhaps it is not a good idea to makes games into films at all.



Speaking of which director Josh Trank is certainly the flavour of the month, he’s been in discussions to direct comic book adaptations; Venom, The Red Star and the Fantastic Four reboot.

It’s good to see his talent is being recognised, but isn’t he really better than being lined up for comic book and video

game movies? It would good if he got free rein and come up with something fresh.



The Raid: Review

Ong Who? Forget it, because Martial Arts has a new hero, and he comes from Indonesia.

The basic scenario is this, a police  SWAT unit makes to raid a tower bloc. But this is no ordinary block, it is controlled by crime lord and fortified against assault. No police unit has breached it in ten years.


They make their move just after dawn, but quickly run into trouble as the operation proves more difficult and deadly than they ever anticipated.


The film has an unusual origin. It was filmed in Indonesia with local actors in the local language. The writer and director is Welshman Gareth Huw Evans. Yes.. Welsh.

Don’t ask.


That said, this is brilliant, it is cleanly and elegantly shot, the action scenes are beautiful without being balletic.  Gareth Evans has that very rare talent, he knows how to build tension. And the violence; let me say this is the most brutally violent film  I have seen in the cinema in more than a decade.  It is bloody and bone breaking stuff, the kind of movie you assume they stopped making in the nineties, the early nineties.


The lead, Iko Uwais has that rare quality of being both sensitive and convincingly deadly with all limbs. he’s a fair actor too (better that Tony Jaa, I tell you.)  


With all of the punching, chopping and viscous finishing moves, you’d think there was no room for story. Not so, not only is there some plot machination, but we actually pause for character development (but not too long).


This is real film making.  Gareth Evans is a serious player and will be one to watch in the future.



While at The Raid we caught the previews. Best of all was the Trailer for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter . what was it like? Like Underworld in frock-coats. Now that might seem appealing, especially if you crave Kate Beckinsale in Tight leather…just a sec I’m savouring that moment… But actually it is very appealing indeed. This will not be the Four Score Years Lincoln, this will be the kick ass while running, jumping and spinning in the air Lincoln. It looks exceptionally entertaining.


More psychic shenanigans in Red Lights (which is dropping for sooner than I expected) No misguided telekinetic kids in this one, but a crusty Robert Deniro verses some poor misguided sceptics (you know what happens to sceptics in movies).



And finally, I screwed up. I just missed out on the Cine-Excess conference. It was held at the Odeon Covent Garden between 24th and 26th May. 

(In my defence the movie blogs were most unforthcoming too.)

Each year they screen cult movies and have discussions on the more outré end of cinema.

Enzo G. Castellari and  Sergio Martino, were guests this year.

Most embarrassing for me is this is the sixth conference. Maybe next year.






And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.

Index Page


I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.


Grunting at the Screen (91)

22 May



The information age has not yet finished with us



1911, is a Greek film in planning stage: the world is disappearing beneath the waves, in an alternate earth an inventor is planning to escape the catastrophe by taking a group of survivors to the moon in a steam powered space ship. Hme. Yorgos Tsourgiannis, is directing and I’m hoping this isn’t some kind of short.


“Have you ever dreamed about being in the head of another person?” Well actually this is the premise of the Lithuanian film Vanishing Waves, it’s an, ahem, “erotic thriller” about a shy young man’s exploration of a comatose woman’s mind.


Dyamn! What is happening to animation houses. Pixar made John Carter (technically Disney, but it was a Pixar director overseen by a Pixar creative team). Now Studio Gibli, responsible for some of Japan’s most iconic animated features is also going live action. (Damned if I know why. Animation traditionally does so much better) but don’t worry they are only doing a short for a museum exhibit named “Hideaki Anno’s Special Effects Museum”. It will be called Tokyo ni Arawaru or Giant God Warrior Appears In Tokyo. Shinji Higuchi directs. Who knows, if they get a taste for it…


Out on disc this month; Osombie and The Divide. Neither has had a theatrical release. The Divide is rumoured to be quite good.

I was under the impression I had covered The Divide in Grunting at the Screen but I haven’t.

It’s the current film from Xavier Gens, (Hit Man, Frontiers).

It’s a post holocaust drama almost entirely that takes place in a basement. A group of strangers take shelter and gradually the social cohesion breaks down.

 Michael Biehn and Carmen German star.

You know. I probably never bothered with this because it is very familiar territory. I’ve liked Gens’ work before, but I was unconvinced he could bring anything new to the scenario.

Several critics beg to disagree and insist it is a dark and impressive exploration of human behaviour at their extremes.

As for Osombie…oh be serious.


I never saw The Darkest Hour but it’s now out on DVD. The reviews were abysmal but The FX look good, pity.

I made the mistake if going on-line to see what the reviewers thought (well actually just to Amazon, I was lazy).

OK, I’m confused. No-one actually wrote it was great, and the overall rating was a very average half mark. The confusing aspect was that the customer reviewers disagreed with every aspect: the acting was average/pretty good/awful. The FX were awesome/average/abysmal. And so on. OK, they all agreed that the story was very standard.

Nothing actually encourages me to see it, but I am curious how one film could attract such disparate reactions.


The first trailer for Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D has come out and the verdict is not very positive.


Ooh, Kitmura has a new film doing the festivals. Now I’ve been on a Kitamura Jag lately. I caught up on his older films on DVD. (Aragami is bugfuck crazy, Alive is a Japanese take on the Matrix but not without merit and Sky High is the oddest thing). Anyway. I still love Verses and Midnight Meat Train, so a new Kitamura movie is worth a look.

Usually.  Marble City stars Nicolas Cage as a one-eyed ex-con on the trail of vengeance. Nicolas Cage has made some pretty awful movies lately, but this thing promises double 45s and an “epic gun battle.”


I liked Ironclad, a lot; it was medi-evil, with violence of Shakespearian levels and exploding pigs! So I was delighted to hear it will have a sequel.

Ironclad: Battle for Blood.

We pick up the story the survivors of the Siege of Rochester Castle when one of them makes his way home only to defend his castle against Celtic Raiders.

Principal photography begins in summer 2013.


OK, you all know by now (largely because it made the evening news) it looks like they have made a decision over Blade Runner, it’s going to be a sequel (hmm. I would have guessed prequel, maybe with the Alien non-prequel they thought they’d mix it up…)

In interesting tweak is that they are all going for a female protagonist this time around, very fresh, (like Ripley in Alien, Sarah Conner in The Terminator, and the Naomi Rapace character in Prometheus). I approve, any extra layers of richness the film makers bring to the classic are appreciated.

Apparently they are negotiating with Hampton Fancher to write it.

Or are they? As I’ve said already, I don’t expect Ridley Scott to make another Science fiction movie, it took him 32 years to get around to the last one. Second, Scott isn’t young, he’s in his seventies, how many of these huge movies can he make? Third, making a big, flashy science fiction movie is hardly the route to riches… Hello John Carter; and since Bud Yorkin (from the original movie) is an executive producer, perhaps he can tell the money men of this one that Blade Runner originally lost its shirt.

Fourth, and most immediately, is the Prometheus factor. Perhaps the buzz around Prometheus sealed the deal on Blade Runner, but June is soon and if Ridley’s space movies doesn’t do Avengers-sized business then the Blade Runner sequel may quietly fade away as if it never was.


Now for some wild speculation. Suppose Hampton Fancher actually makes a pass at the screenplay (I’m surprised he’s involved, hasn’t he retired?) Do we suppose it will stop there. Fancher delivered a very competent script of the original Blade Runner in the eighties. David Peoples re-wrote it. Jon Spaihts wrote a much beloved screenplay for the Alien Prequel; Damon Lindelof re-wrote it.

if Fancher turns in a script of the Blade Runner prequel, even if it is good, there is no guarantee it won’t get a thorough improvement by an as of yet unnamed writer.


OK, more wild speculation. (All assuming the film, will actually get made)

Since Ridley Scott is bringing back Hampton Fancher who else is he bringing back? Film making is a collaborative art and no one would argue that Ridley Did all on his own. He brought back HR Giger for Prometheus… Might he bring back Syd Mead? The World’s greatest visual futurist is still alive and still working. Even if we cannot get the master Scott is going to need a visionary, perhaps someone from the world of bandes dessinées. Like Enki Bilial or one of the bad-asses who works with Joderowski. My choice would be to go Japanese, they have exceptional artists;

Shinji Aramaki, Masemune Shirow, Yunkto Kishiro (he still alive) actually there are a dozen guys who could do a lovely job.

And What about music. Ridley worked with Vangelis twice (Blade Runner and 1492) It might not be Blade Runner without him. He was conspicuously absent from interviews on The Box Set. is he amiable to working with Scott again?


Now this is not a sequel. Alex Proyas has been trying to get a project off the ground for some time. He is nowhere near as bad as some directors who juggle projects without getting one off the ground, but a few have collapsed from under him.

Hopefully this will not be so for his new gig.

 Gods of Egypt it’s a fantasy set in ancient Egypt where a god a goddess and a mortal must unite to defeat a (presumably) ancient evil.

Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless are doing the script.

OK, so it sounds like a version of The Clash of the Titans with a culture shift. That might not be entirely a bad thing.


First review for Hysteria has come out. It’s the secret history of the electric vibrator and its medical origins and stars Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Verdict is “mildly stimulating”*


Eli Roth is getting back to the director’s chair with something called The Green Inferno, “The scariest and most intense film I have made,” says Roth So not his science fiction project then. Filming commences in Chile in the winter.


Just announced is  “Beyond Apollo” about an abortive mission to Venus. Interesting thing is it’s an adaptation of a   Barry Malzberg novel. Finally the film industry re-discovers the rich source of Science fictions stories out there..  Michael Grodner wrote and is contracted to direct it, and it is being cast as we speak.


Battleship seems to be the major victim of The Avenger’s success. It did perfectly well in the International market when it was released some weeks ago, however its opening box office is less than half that the raging superhero epic now dominating the US movie charts. (even though it came second in the top ten)

I did say this would be a year of major blockbuster failures, After John Carter, Battleship is suffering the consequence of too many big budget movies and not enough slots.


Hong Kong’s Category III sector have brought us a Naked Killer and a 

Naked Weapon (plus assorted remakes.) So what is there left except a

Naked Soldier? (sigh!)

Director is Marco Mak but what is Corey Yuen doing working on this exploitation piece of crap? Oh… Action Director (and no doubt consultant Female Body Inspector).

Plot involves a gang of hot female assassins, a drug deal and probably all sorts of opportunities to get naked and fire guns.

Opens in China on July 26th.


Newsflash: Nazis in space movie, Iron Sky got an extremely limited run in London. How limited? One day: Wed 23rd May. I guess it will get a DVD release after that.




*What? What?










So if you want some real movie news you know what to do.


I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.

15 May

Grunting at the Screen (90)


The information age has not yet finished with us




If you get nervous around stinging insects this is just for you.

Dragon Wasps. Deep in the forests of Belize, a species of giant wasps… wasps that spurt fire from their abdomens!

Yeah, okay. The premise is absurd but… no the premise is just absurd. It’s directed by Joe Knee, and stars Corin Nemec and Dominika Wolsk.


Some of you may remember me saying James Cameron was way too busy to get back to film making in a hurry.

Well it’s worse than I thought. He’s now said he will now be dividing his time between his deep sea diving expeditions and Avatar sequels. All other [projects are cancelled; he’s not directing them, he’s not producing them.

I’m disappointed. I liked Avatar, but this multiple sequel plan sucks.

It plays into the current paradigm. Sequels and remakes forever.

No sooner did Cameron give the interview did Aint it Cool website call Cameron for clarification and he insisted he would get around to making the live action version of Battle Angel Alita… after he finished everything else.

Let’s take a look at this.

The average major motion picture takes two years to get to the screen. This puts Avatar 2 at 2014 and Avatar 3 at 2016. Presumably Battle Angel Alita will follow in 2018. That’s six years dude!

Actually… Jim Cameron is only marginally interested in film making now and he takes out a whole lot of time for his sub aquatic pursuits. If we throw in just an extra year for each project that is nine years and a 2019 opening. Nine years? Will we still care by then? Will Cameron?


What is next for Marvel Studios? The interesting thing is that honcho Kevin Feige insists they only want to make two or three films a year.

By now all of you who are going to see Avengers should have seen it. We can talk about that mid-credits sequence; a menacing conversation warning that the earth is too strong to be invaded. The party being warned, I saw the wrinkled jaw and I thought it was a Skrull, but I went on line and got a correction. Skrulls are green, this character was purple. It was Thanos.

Who’s this? Supervillain from Titan, full of ultimate powers, a superscientist, time traveller, wielder of Infinity Gauntlet which powered by the infinity gems, putative dictator and lover of death.

Marvel movie pundits are pretty sure he will be the key villain in Avengers 2. I’m not so sure. Between Avengers 1 and 2 will be Iron man 3, Captain America 2 and the Hulk TV series.

Let’s pull out our cinematic calculator again. Feige insists on two or three films a year, so, say if we have Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 next year and Captain America in 2014. Then it won’t be 2015 at the earliest until we see a sequel to The Avengers.

That’s a long time to wait for a payoff.

I’m thinking Thanos’ appearance is a teaser, but not for The Avengers. Thanos’ is not just an enemy of the Avengers; he’s also had a number of run-ins with the Guardians of the Galaxy. And Marvel is prepping movies for the Inhumans and Guardians of the Galaxy. This is who I think Thanos is being prepped to fight.

I could well be wrong. If Marvel Studios can keep fan interest stoked until Avengers 2 it would be worthwhile keeping Thanos in place as the major villain. They could do that in the same way they trailed the Avengers in the first place. If Thanos appears in post credits sequences of the next three Marvel movies he will be well placed for the Avengers sequel. But that as I said will be a while off.

While we are speculating wildly why not take on a possible Black Widow movie? Look, rather than have lots of little movies for each character, why not make on big one with the logical characters; Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury are all SHEILD, why not combine them all for an espionage themed movie? We could have the Widow/Hawkeye romance set against a spy plot involving Fury.

As you know I don’t do sequels so let’s, again, talk about the Captain America sequel.

The peripheral aspects of Avengers; the shadowy Committee, Fury’s effort to create Cube based weapons, encourages me that Marvel Studios is ready for a more gritty, 21st century take on Captain America, one where the moral choices are less clear and more difficult. Hydra didn’t appear in Avengers so I guess they will be back in Cap 2. Feige has indicated we will see a character from the Captain’s past and I am presuming this means the return of Bucky and possibly the Winter Solder story line. Mmme. I want to see that film.

Of the actual clues we have from interviews mainly with Kevin Feige we know a few things: it will be contemporary rather than historical, it will be the sequel most linked with the Avengers movie, and it will involve Nick Fury and SHIELD.

So let’s start up the speculation. Hydra will come back with a new leader (Possibly Dr Zola). We will have the return of James “Bucky” Barnes as The Winter Soldier. (In the comic the Russians brought Bucky back to life, but I guess with all the efforts be diplomatic Hydra will be substituted.)

Captain America will be acting as a special Agent of SHIELD. This may involve a return of The Black Widow and Hawkeye (in fact if they are not there, their absence will have to be explained).

If it does involve the return of Bucky then the plot will revolve around the fight to save the young man from what he has become.

I’m going out on a limb here; maybe all of the seeds of Cap 2 were planted in Cap 1.

Bucky was captured by Hydra and experimented with. This may be significant.

We also see Bucky as a sniper, a role he will take up again as the Winter Soldier.

On the train we even see him take up the shield, just for a moment, but that may be a harbinger of something beyond Captain America 2.

However, I may be (and my batting average has sucked lately) wrong. In that case the most likely character to come back from the past will be Red Skull. We are pretty positive he is not dead, just transported to another dimension. I’d be pretty disappointed if he did come back, I hate those villains that just won’t lie down. (Even if he is not returning as a villain he may come back in the now requisite post credits scene; exactly which dimension did he get transported to? One containing Thanos perhaps?)

Red Skull of not, I expect Thanos to return in the Captain America 2 post credits scene, if only to raise expectations for his appearance in a future Marvel Studios movie.

So who will direct Captain America 2? Marvel Studios like to mix it up, so I don’t expect Joe Johnson will be back (despite the excellent job he did). Feige does a lot of out of the box* thinking when it comes to directors; he’ll pick someone we don’t expect (Just please don’t make it Drew Goddard…. for the love of Odin!)



Just when you thought it was safe to have a random hook-up…

Been checking out something called Contracted which seems to be an old school Body Horror movie directed by Eric England it is in production now.

A young woman has a one night stand and picks up something way nastier than Chlamydia. No more details but I’m hoping for something with random teeth and tentacles.



Talking of tentacle movies.

Haley’s Comet is back. And this time it’s mad!

The arrival of the legendary comet is accompanies by strange (and perhaps wonderful) mutations in people’s bodies. Look out for Dead Shadows from

David Cholewa. This one is finished and doing the festival circuit. More information if an actual release is threatened.



Jodorowsky is back. Well not quite, he’s now trying to raise money for a film project based on his Biography La Danza De La Realidad (the Dance of Reality). It is said to be a magic realist look at his childhood. Based on his several previous attempts to get movies going, it may be a while before we see this one.


You wait all decade for an Alejandro Jodorwsky movie then two arrive all at once.

Jodorowsky’s western comic Bouncer is looking for funding. Bouncer is about a one-armed gunman in a surreal West. Pierre Spengler is the producer.



They’ve began trailing Snow White and the Huntsman. Now work with me here.

I am on the cusp here. It has great visual presentation. But that doesn’t mean squat in the age of CGI and digital interpositives.

If it is of the quality of many of the recent youth films, I’m not interested. I’m way too old for “Hans Christian Anderson does Twilight”.

But there is another possibly.

There is something in the feel of the trailer. It has scale. It has edge.

You know I could be down with Snow White as epic fantasy.

Let’s see which way it falls.

Snow White and the Huntsman opens on May 30th.



The tide of adaptations from minor comics continues as Ed Pressman acquires

Feeding Ground, where an illegal immigrant finds himself in a no-man’s-land on the border trapped with the usual supernatural monsters. Carlos Coto is writing the script and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is directing.



OK we have a bit more information on Branded; it was first brought to my attention as one of many forthcoming films on a cyberpunk movie site. Then I learned it had been acquired by Lionsgate and it was about a corporate future where the advertising companies ruled the earth. A lone individual is trying to unlock the truth behind the companies that control the world.

Now we have a little more detail. Quiet Earth blog is comparing it to They Live and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it stars Leelee Sobieski and Jefrey Tambor and is scheduled for release in September.



I haven’t said very much about Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, but I’m going to see it.

Not because I’m a vampire fan (Vampire-action yes, soppy vampire romance no).

Not because I’m enamoured by Seth Grahame-Smith, I find his version of nineteenth century literary mash-up uninteresting.

It is, of course because the presence of Timur Bekmambetov, a director of extraordinary visual ability.

So, I am looking forward to a classy looking Mid Nineteenth Century and some excellent vampire kills (President Lincoln favours the axe).

Abraham Lincoln starts Vampire Hunting on June 22.



Now this is unexpected if any project was dead I would have said the Last Voyage of the Demeter was.

It’s a film looking at the events aboard the ship that brought Dracula to Britain.

It was intended to be the debut film of former designer Patrick Tatoupolos (the fact that Tatoulopos is now working on his second movie, will indicated how long this project has been in play.)

I thought it permanently shelved but it is back. This time linked to Neil Marshal. Perhaps they think he can do for vampires what he did for Werewolves in Dog Solders.

Marshal has been working on Burst 3D, so no saying when he might be moving on to Demeter.

*Now some people ask “Just what is this ‘box’ they are always talking about?” Well let me tell you. The lame, repetitive, clueless way the film industry usually approach projects? That’s inside the box.







John Scalzi is retiring from the movie blog business. But Dark Horizons is still good.


So if you want some real movie news you know what to do.


I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.




Grunting at the Screen (89)

8 May


The information age has not yet finished with us



Disney has done miserably with science fiction lately. Both Tron: Legacy and John Carter underperformed, the other projects failed to get off the ground.

At this point the new honcho  out there (because the old one canned over a  $200m loss) must be thinking that Disney just doesn’t do science fiction very well.

And he’d be wrong.

Because Marvel is a part of Disney now, and they are doing fine.

It will take an adjustment thinking but Disney may be able to jump onto the lucrative science fiction movie bandwagon.

First is stop thinking Marvel makes superhero movies, they just make very narrowly targeted science fiction movies, featuring guys in funny suits.

Second is to use marvels powerful marketing potential. Marvel does comics , they do animation and by the time they do a movie they can ensure there is a lot of audience recognition.

Third is use the competence Marvel has gained in making movies. Not every comic book movie is a success, it takes expertise with the mystery of making the incredible believable, which is what Marvel has.

Now, if Disney shifts its science fiction projects over to Marvel, they can promote the hell out of them with Comics and animation, then deliver films that people actually want to see. 

This is good for Marvel too, after all, just how long do you think the superhero movie craze will last?

But it’s not dead yet, and Avengers proves there is lots of life in the genre.


The Avengers

I was never an X-Men fan.

I’m talking the seventies, the comics. Back then in England imported comics were rare and expensive and I mostly read British reprints in Black and White… actually my cousins’ comics (my parents wouldn’t have them in the house..)

The best were those with The Avengers. After all they were the World’s Mightiest Superheroes: one of them was a guy in a robot suit and the other was a God!

 Now years later those characters are on screen, larger than life. Am I stoked? Just a little.

 OK, and so to the review. It’s good. It’s a big sprawling epic, chock full of action and melodrama. If there’s a fault, it’s a tad overlong, but no more than any major movie. On the other hand it’s full of great moments, and I mean great character moments. We get Tony Stark’s flippancy (and his casual heroism), Thor’s straight faced delivery of stiff godly lines, and Steve Roger’s Christianity (yes, that’s in the comics too.)

It’s well directed, despite his television origin Joss Whedon keeps a cinematic scale, and adds the storytelling strengths that the best of TV has mastered. 

The FX are up to speed and do not draw attention to themselves (not negatively). The action starts low key but once the heroes get into the action it’s pretty stirring.

 There is some nice stuff in here; a dark sub plot about SHEILD using the cube to make weapons of mass destruction, some great character moments, even the fights between the Avengers themselves- Thor and Iron Man, Black Widow and Hawkeye, Thor and Hulk. 

 Now, seriously, I’ve been hearing this is the greatest comic book movie yet… not so, (The Dark Knight still has the throne.) But it’s classy stuff and you will have fun.

What keeps it from the top position is, unlike The Dark Knight, it fails to illuminate anything outside of its world, it is a hermetic space so far from our own world there have no real correspondence.

 Something you will not get in any review is that we have the first appearance of something called The Council; a shadowy group with at least one senator on board who controls SHEILD and goodness knows what other concerns.

Don’t leave right after the movie, there is a post credits sequence.

 By the way, you can totally see Agent Maria Hill’s thong through her SHEILD jumpsuit…I’m just saying….

As I write the Avengers has just had a record $200m opening.



Ah, this is interesting. I have gone on and on about the increasing intimacy between the comic and film industries. There are comic companies which seem to exist primarily to create the feedstock for the film industry.

I’m not sure where to place this one; Anomaly. It’s by Witchblade creator Brian Haberlin.

Humans have colonised the galaxy a group of explored embark on a diplomatic mission to a mysterious planet only to be embroiled in a global conflict there.

 What is interesting about this comic is that it is to be released in multiple media from the get-go; a tablet app, an augmented reality phone app and a 370 page hardcover graphic novel. And oh yes, they are developing it as a movie.

 Haberlin is developing it with entertainment lawyer Skip Brittenham,They have created their own publishing house to handle it , Anomaly Productions and they have other projects planned down the line.



OK, there are a few original science fiction projects right at the planning stage. The first one from Warner Brothers is the unhelpfully labelled “Dinosaur action pitch”; apparently Dinosaurs are attacking Los Angels (What? Again? Didn’t they see Dragon Wars?)

The other thing in play is Selfless from Alex and David Pastor; A dying older man purchases new life by having his mind transplanted into a young vigourous body. Unfortunately the body seems to have been acquired in a most dubious way. Sounds a lot like that German film from last year… Transfer (Damir Lukacevic)



Back in Grunting 67 I mentioned the fact that Iraq/Afghanistan war films rarely do well.Not surprising; back in the seventies Vietnam films were noted for their quality rather than Box office, the curse was only broken in the 80s with Platoon. Well Obama has pulled the troops out of Iraq and there is a time table to get them out of Afghanistan.It is still early days, but the conditions are approaching for the definitive movie of the Middle Eastern Wars, one that does not just tell the story, but is acceptable to an audience distanced from the original trauma.



You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned Men in Black 3… this is not a mistake.


From the hard rush of April we’ve eased into the post Avengers comedown: What have we got this month? MIB3, Dark Shadows. You cannot be serious.

 But there is a film this month and it’s not a block buster. It’s The Raid.



The Total Recall reboot is bearing down on us for August but before we get there we have been reminded of the earlier effort to adapt “We Can Remember  It for You Wholesale,”. Before Verhoeven got his hands on it, David Cronenberg had a pass at it, there was a script and we now learn there were concept paintings.

In interview Cronenberg has indicated his take would have been more cerebral and closer to Dick’s ideas of shifting realities.In retrospect, I really don’t think there was any chance of Cronenberg ever making a project on the scale and commercially of Total Recall… It’s nice to dream though.



Meanwhile there is another science fiction release in June, one less celebrated. It is “Storage 24″ from British wunderkind Noel Clarke. Clark has been doing the nigh impossible for the past hap;f decade: making British movies and making money at the same time. They are not huge hits but all you have to do get the ratio of budget to box office right.”Storage 24” is a science fiction/horror.

 An airplane crashes into a maximum security warehouse and releases a mysterious creature. Noel and company are trapped in the warehouse with the creature with no way out.

Hme. To be honest the material does not sound that promising. In fact it sounds like an earth bound Alien (and how pointless is that.) I’ll keep my eyes open and see if something more encouraging turns up.

Noel Clarke is the star and co-writer, Director is Johannes Roberts.









My own favourite Film Blog is John Scalzi’s. Not much in the way of news but his opinion is on point


And if you want some real news scoot over to Dark Horizons

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I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.