ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Is Actually Good. Huh.

Banner_ZombpocalypseNow

Is this the best episode yet of Fear the Walking Dead? Rubén Blades returns and Team Zombie has thoughts. It’s Zombpocalypse Now!

Fear_The_Walking_Dead_title_card1
Season 3, Episode 4 “100”
Written by Alan Page
Directed by Alex Garcia Lopez

Ruben Blades as Daniel Salazar (Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC)

Timothy: So here’s what concerns me…

Dustin: That Fear the Walking Dead has actually become a well-written show that we’re enjoying, and it’s going to get our hopes up and then crush them beneath a return to the awfulness that we have endured lo these previous two seasons?

Curtis: “Lo”? Really?

Dustin: I am waxing poetic.

Mindy: This is a legitimate concern, at least based on what you two have been saying. Of course, I have just started watching this show, so I haven’t had to suffer the way you two have. Or at least the way you two say you have. Repeatedly.

Dustin: It’s been a terrible burden to bear. 

Mindy: Mmm hmmm.

Dustin: IT IS A TERRIBLE BURDEN, MINDY.

Curtis: So what’s this concern, Tim?

Timothy: Well, I’ve been looking at the viewing numbers. When the show debuted, it had about 10 million viewers, which fell to a little less than 7 million by the end of the first season.

Dustin: This does not surprise me. At all.

Timothy: The second season started with about 6.5 million viewers, and ended with about 3 million.

Curtis: Ouch. 

Dustin: At all surprised, I am not.

Mindy: And this season?

Timothy: This season kicked off with just over 5 million, which became 4.8 million by the second episode. We don’t have the +3 and +7 numbers for the 3rd and 4th episode yet, but their live numbers have fallen every episode. 

Dustin: Wait, we’ve only had three Fear the Walking Dead nights… oh. 

Curtis: They were losing viewers on the first night the show came back, between the first and second episodes. That aired back to back.

Timothy: Yeah. Fear the Walking Dead has had four well-written, well-acted, actually good episodes this season…

Mindy: And fewer and fewer viewers.

Timothy: Exactly.

Dustin: I’m not sure how I feel about being in the position of defending this show, but we are, and we do, and here is the podcast thing we do. Listen while we say nice things about a show we’ve hated while it’s good and we’re hoping it stays that way. LISTEN!

 

Banner_EndTransmission_mini




Glenn Close Returns To TV As A Funny Zombie

Amazon is working to continue building their impressive collection of original television content by adding zombie comedy Sea Oak and casting Emmy winning Glenn Close in the lead role.

Close will play Aunt Bernie, a meek and unmarried woman in Rust Belt City who dies during a home invasion. Being unhappy with the way her life turned out keeps her from completely dying. She wills herself back to life as a rage-filled revenge seeking zombie determined to achieve the good life that she missed as a blue-collar living human. Bernie returns to what is left of her nuclear family, which includes a quasi-stripper nephew and two feckless nieces, who live in a low-end subsidized housing complex called Sea Oak. Once there, she demands they help her reach her goal.

The series is written by George Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo) and is executive produced by Jonathon Krauss with Affiliated Pictures. Lael Smith and Keir McFarlane will co-executive produce.

This will be Close’s first regular series role since FX’s Damages, where she won two Emmys for lead actress in a drama. She has won three Tony Awards for roles including The Real Ting, Death and the Maiden, and Sunset Boulevard. Some of her big screen appearances are Fatal AttractionThe Natural, and The Big Chill.

 




THE CROOKED MAN Joins THE CONJURING-Verse


[Featured image courtesy TheConjuring2.com]

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

With one sequel and three spinoffs, The Conjuring (2013) has officially become a movie universe. Along with 2016’s direct sequel The Conjuring 2, three spinoff characters from those films are now starring in their own movies.

Demonic doll Annabelle received her own movie in 2014. Last October, New Line Cinema announced that creepy-portrait-turned-menacing-ghost The Nun will hit theaters in 2018, starring Damien Bichir and directed by Corin Hardy.  This week we learned the identity of the next supporting scare promoted to feature player in the Conjuring-verse – The Crooked Man.

Annabell is just like the Elf on the Shelf, but creepy and murderous. Image courtesy Annabelle official Facebook page.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, James Wan and Peter Safran will be producing the film. Mike Van Waes will be creating a scirpt from Wan’s story idea. No director or stars were announced by New Line.

The Crooked Man first appeared in The Conjuring 2 as an unsettling zoetrope toy, then as a menacing skeletal man. Believe it (or not), the Crooked Man rhyme refers to events in 17th century history involving the unification of Scotland and England. The last line (and they all lived together in a crooked little house) supposedly refers to the rocky relationship between Scotland and England after unification.

The Nun – yet another delightful resident of the Ed & Elaine Warren Souvenir Room. Image coutresy The Conjuring Official Facebook page.

However … if you need to see a movie about that menacing rail-thin fellow today, you are in luck, horror movie fans.

Last year Syfy kicked off its annual “31 Days of Halloween” with a direct to television movie called (you guessed it) The Crooked Man. You can read the SciFi4Me review here.

While it’s not a landmark of horror by any stretch of the imagination, this version does a pretty effective job taking the original rhyme and using  it in a “Bloody Mary” sleepover game gone very wrong setup. (I also gave main characters in this Crooked Man credit for actually using their brains at the end to dispose of the titular villain.)

If you’re so inclined, Syfy’s version of The Crooked Man is available on multiple streaming platforms including Vudu, iTunes, FandangoNOW, and Amazon.

The Crooked Man on Syfy featured characters who used their brains to defeat evil (for once). Image courtesy Syfy.




ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Still Isn’t Entirely Awful

Banner_ZombpocalypseNow

Mr. Smith and the Intern From the Future join Mssrs. Adair and Harvey for more Fear the Walking Dead on Zombpocalypse Now!

Fear_The_Walking_Dead_title_card1
Season 3, Episode 3 “TEOTWAWKI”
Written by Ryan Scott
Directed by Deborah Chow

Kim Dickens as Madison Clark, Daniel Sharman as Troy Otto – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 3, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/AMC

Dustin: Curtis is back!

Curtis: Hi guys.

Dustin: Mindy is back!

Mindy: Hi guys.

Dustin: Tim is… still here!

Timothy: Wow. That was enthusiastic.

Dustin: I see you every week. We don’t see Curtis as much as we used to, so it’s special when he’s here. And Mindy still laughs at my jokes.

Curtis: Thanks, Dustin. It’s good to be here. Although I came here more to hang out with my friends than watch whatever this show is.

Mindy: I’ve never watched Fear the Walking Dead before, and to be honest, watching you two watch the show is as entertaining as the show is, if not more. You make the most interesting faces.

Timothy: This show does inspire reactions. Although, we aren’t hating it as much as we thought we would, based on the previous seasons.

Dustin: All twelve thousand seasons of this show. 

Timothy: Two seasons. This is season three.

Dustin: TWELVE THOUSAND SEASONS, TIM.

Mindy: You can kind of see Dustin aging in real-time as he watches it.

Dustin: And that’s with me not hating everything that happens.

Timothy: Heh. Yeah, it says something that not hating the show is the baseline we’re going with here. Anyway, sit back and listen as we talk about all the things happening on the third episode of Fear the Walking Dead’s third season…

Curtis: Sit back and listen to us laugh a lot.

Mindy: Sit back and listen to Tim bleep out all the swearing a lot.

Dustin: AND check out our other podcasts, and our new Twitch channel, and do that YouTube thing that gets us more cool YouTube things.

Timothy: Follow us on YouTube! We’re aiming to get over 1000 followers on YouTube. It would be cool if you could help us do that.

 

Banner_EndTransmission_mini




Parents vs Teens vs VR Zombies On Screen in NEIGHBORHOOD 3


[Featured image courtesy jenniferhaley.com]

My first experience of the world of virtual viral marketing came along in 2001 with the premiere of the J. J. Abrams spy adventure Alias on ABC. What would happen if I typed “Credit Daupnine” (heroine Sydney Bristow’s employer on the show) into a search engine? Not only was there a website for this fictional bank/criminal front; if I gave ABC my email, informational updates regarding the show would appear in my inbox!
Alternate Reality Games  (or “transmedia storytelling”) have come a long way from the days of AOL subscription discs and dialup internet. ARG’s bring a fictional world to vivid, detailed life for a fan – and provide buzz, publicity, and email addresses for the studios that care to use them.

Retro video game imagery from the 2009-10 Sacred Fools Theater Company production. Image courtesy sacredfools.org.

As an entertaining (albiet somewhat disturbing) article from Cracked on “The Five Most Insane Alternate Reality Games” puts it “ARGs ask the players to pretend they’re living in a carefully constructed parallel universe that can include fake websites and phone numbers and even real objects hidden throughout the world … usually for the sake of promoting a two-hour movie.

The ARG framwork has been used to promote films as early 2001  (A.I. Artificial Intelligence). The J. J. Abrams produced  Cloverfield (2008) ARG used mystery to build interest, while the campaign for The Dark Knight (also 2008) is remembered as possibly the most elaborate and immersive.

Haley also wrote episodes of the Eli Roth-produced Neflix series HEMLOCK GROVE. Image courtesy Netflix.com

Now a play taking a dark, disturbing look inside a community under the spell of a horror ARG will be migrating from the theater stage to the multiplex screen. According to TrackingBoard.com, Chernin Entertainment plans to develop Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom by playwright Jennifer Haley into a feature film. Haley will be penning the screenplay adaptation of her 2008 play. Besides her work in the theater, Haley also wrote several episodes of the Eli Roth Netflix werewolf series Hemlock Grove.

Poster by Mario Mendez for Las Vegas Little Theatre 200 production of Neighborhood3. [Image courtesy jenniferhaley.com]
Another staple of the horror genre – zombies – serves as the ostensible outside threat in Neighborhood 3. As their children become more obsessed by destroying the undead in a virtual version of their community, local parents find that the lines between real and fake have become hopelessly blurred. The New Yorker review of Neighborhood 3 compared Jennifer Haley’s setting and themes to the works of “David Lynch, David Cronenberg … without feeling derivative.”

Zombies a la David Lynch and/or David Cronenberg?

Now that sounds gross, weird, and very interesting.





ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Returns And Team Zombie Actually Enjoyed It

Banner_ZombpocalypseNow

Fear the Walking Dead is back on Sunday night, and #TeamZombie find themselves in the odd position of actually enjoying it. It’s Zombpocalypse Now!

Fear_The_Walking_Dead_title_card1
Season 3, Episode 1 “Eye of the Beholder”
Written by Dave Erickson
Directed by Adam Bernstein

Season 3, Episode 2 “The New Frontier”
Written by Mark Richard
Directed by Stefan Schwartz

The decision to change the format to all singing/all dancing was, oddly enough, surprisingly successful.

Dustin: Ross McCall is the actor who played Steven.

Timothy: Aaaaaand who is Steven?

Dustin: The soldier guy you thought was the crazy soldier guy from the Fear the Walking Dead webisodes. I told you it wasn’t him.

Timothy: So you did. You do have to admit though, he did kinda look like the crazy guy.

Dustin: The crazy guy was Colton, played by Michael Mosley. They only kind of look alike, but considering both of them are buried under dirt and scruff, I suppose if you squint real hard.

Timothy: I just figured it was the the crossover bit for the two. Like the 30 seconds between the second season and the kids from the airplane webisodes.

Dustin: That was pretty stupid. Surprisingly, these episodes weren’t. They were actually good. I was engaged. I WAS ENGAGED.

Timothy: I know, it’s… confusing. We’ve been so used to hating this show, that having two episodes back to back that we liked was pretty unexpected. There’s still the chance they could screw it up, but I’m not actually complaining that we enjoyed the premiere.

Dustin: There were a few moments of the stupid, but overall, we did.

Timothy: Weird.

Dustin: Weird and scary.

Timothy: But we do weird and scary here, so that’s OK too. And for more weird and scary, and also fun and informative, check out all our other podcasts on SciFi4MeRadio…

Dustin: AND our YouTube videos! We have lots of YouTube videos!

Timothy: We do. And you, gentle listeners, can help us get to YouTube 1000 subscribers, which helps us do more on the video side of things, which would be cool.

Dustin: SUBSCRIBE TO EVERYTHING WE DO!

 

Banner_EndTransmission_mini




Is J.J. Abrams the OVERLORD of the CLOVERFIELD Universe?

J.J. Abrams recently rounded out the cast for his World War II project, Overlord…or is it his new Cloverfield project?

The first actors announced for Overlord were Wyatt Russell and Jovan Adepo. Joining them will be a team of well-known character actors including Jacob Anderson (Game of Thrones­), Dominic Applewhite (The King’s Speech), Pilou Abaek (Game of Thrones), Iain de Caestecker (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), John Magaro (The Big Short), Mathilde Ollivier (The Misfortunes of Francois Jane), and Bokeem Woodbine (Fargo).

The story follows a pair of American paratroopers who are dropped into a Nazi-occupied village to destroy a radio tower. However, they discover it is more than a simple military operation and find themselves fighting against supernatural forces which are part of a Nazi experiment.

Julius Avery will direct the Bad Robot film with a script written by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith. Lindsey Weber will join Abrams as a producer.

Even though Overlord has not been categorized as a Cloverfield film, it doesn’t mean that is not. But how does it tie in with Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane? Well, let’s take a look at those two films first.

10 Cloverfield Lane does not technically share the same timeline as the Matt Reeves’ 2008 original. They are considered “separate freestanding stories” in the Cloverfield universe. Though the two films are “not related,” here are some common elements they share: Slusho! the drink, Targruato the Japanese deep-sea drilling company, which is the parent company for the drink, and tech company Bold Futura.

How does Overlord fit into this? According to Cloverpedia, the Japanese company Targruato was established in 1945, which also happens to be the same year the Japanese surrendered in WWII when Overlord takes place. So, could this be an origin story for the shady Targruato company which may or may not have had their fingers dabbling in the Nazi supernatural experiments?

Now let’s toss one more log onto this little smoke pit.

10 Cloverfield Lane was developed under the name The Cellar to keep the film’s true identity a secret. Now, the movie known as God Particle has been “pulled” from its original release and re-listed with a new title. Any guess? That’s right, it’s now a untitled Cloverfield Movie.

God Particle, which stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Chris O’Dowd, Daniel Bruhl, Zhang Ziyi, and Elizabeth Debicki, follows crew members aboard a space station, alone after a scientific experiment causes Earth to disappear. When another space shuttle mysteriously appears, they have to determine if they are friends or foes.

OK, so how could this possibly tie into Overlord?

Since Bold Futura is a tech company, they could have a hand in the space program and Earth’s disappearance. Which could make sense if the theory is correct about a possible partnership between the Nazis (who are involved with supernatural experimentation in Overlord) and the creators of Targruato.

Yeah, may be a stretch, but since we are talking about Abrams and his fascination with keeping his fans guessing, any of this could be a possibility.

Filming for Overlord will begin this month. The movie formerly known as God Particle will now be released on October 27, 2017.

 




Be Careful What You WISH UPON This Summer

[All images courtesy Steve Wilkie/Broad Green Pictures]

At first glance, the synopsis for Wish Upon indicates this is just another summertime PG-13 horror movie aimed primarily at teens and/or hardcore horror fans. It reads,

“Claire Shannon (Joey King) is barely surviving the hell that is high school … So when her dad (Ryan Phillippe) gifts her an old music box with an inscription that promises to grant the owner’s wishes, she thinks there is nothing to lose … Everything seems perfect – until the people closest to her begin tying in gruesome and twisted ways.”

So far, so typical. Dumb teenager receives gift, feeds the mogwai after midnight makes stupid decision before thinking things through, then spends rest of movie desperately trying to either undo the damage they’ve caused – or simply survive to the end credits.

But looking into the creative talents involved in Wish Upon, along with a deeper dig into the horror tradition behind the story, provides hints this movie may make something special out of the standard ingredients. Every horror fan may know what is in store for Claire and her friends. But fans also know that with horror, execution is all; so let’s see who’s “behind the curtain” on this project.

Just an ordinary summer afternoon, tampering with That Which Should Not Be Messed With.

Director John R. Leonetti has interspersed directing feature films (starting with 1997’s Mortal Combat: Annihilation) with a prolific career as a cinematographer. His cinematography has been part of  genre hits The Conjuring, Insidious, and Annabelle. Screenwriter Barbara Marshall’s work could be seen in the the interesting (if short lived) FOX series Terra Nova.

I’d caption this one “Cleanup in Aisle Seven!” but it doesn’t look like this gross-out takes place in a grocery store.

Wish Upon‘s very title makes clear the influence of the classic, cautionary, “be careful what you wish for” trope. In the horror story realm, “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs is arguably the most famous – and most copied – example. Bartleby.com has a fascinating collection of essays about this story. You can read the story itself here or take a listen to an audio adaptation by Chilling Tales for Dark Nights on You Tube.

From Claire’s expression, I’d guess the whole making wishes thing has taken a bad turn. Credit: Broad Green Pictures

With an IMDB estimated budget of only $12 million, Wish Upon doesn’t have to do gangbusters to do well in financial terms.  At the very least, Wish Upon has a strong creative team behind the camera and a cast of young up-and-comers in front of it. Adding in the influence of one of the greatest short stories in the horror genre may make this movie a pleasing alternative for moviegoers who enjoy a chill of fear in the heat of summer.

Check out the official trailer below. Wish Upon hits theaters July 14, 2017.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp8GRrrbE-A

 

 




What’s Baking In The Blumhouse Kitchen?

Jason Blum has discovered a way to take unwanted films, produce them with a low budget, and walk away from the theater laughing with pockets filled with money. His work through his production company, Blumhouse, has become reliable enough that Universal has staked him for a 1o-year deal to balance out the blockbuster and family films they release.

Blum went into filmmaking, looking for the reaction from people. His father owned an art gallery and it frustrated Blum that “the world was tiny, and to appreciate contemporary art, [people] needed a history of art, a formal education.” Movies reach many people and, especially with the horror genre, the instant connection and reaction is visibly present, quite the opposite of what he grew up with.

With his production company, he developed a formula that helps everyone involved. The budget starts with $5 million, more for sequels. If the project stays under that budget, they keep the remaining balance as well as creative control. Blumhouse will provide a guide to filmmakers on how to get more commercially appealing results. However, the filmmaker still has the final say.

They do not provide a release date for the films until it is finished and the production company sees the final result and decides whether to move forward or to shelve it. And that is a possibility.

This works. Blumhouse has nearly $2.8 billion in box office grosses, TV studio productions, and book releases. Since they are not spending a lot, it allows them to pick up the projects no other company sees fit to do.

And Blum is proud of that: “It’s the great thing about the movie business. Most of the successful movies we’ve done, no one else wanted to do.”

So far, Blumhouse is having a good year. They’ve had two huge box office hits – M. Night Shyamalan’s Split and Jordan Peele’s Get Out, plus J.D. Dillard’s Sleight and recently premiered Akiva Goldsman’s Stephanie. And it appears this mini power house has no signs of slowing down. Let’s take a look and see what Blumhouse is cooking in their kitchen.

Truth Or Dare

Truth Or Dare comes from writer-director Jeff Wadlow (Bates Motel, Kick Ass 2). Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) is finalizing her deal to star.

The story follows a college student in Mexico who is talked into playing a supernatural version of Truth or Dare. However, the game doesn’t stop there and follows her back home.

The screenplay is adapted from a story written by Michael Reisz, Wadlow, Chris Roach, and Jillia Jacobs. It will be produced by Blum and Blumhouse’s Couper Samuelson with Wadlow and Roach executive producing.

Only You

Only You will star Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo and is written and directed by Jacob Estes (Mean Creek). The plot is under wraps; however, it has been explained to be thriller involving time travel.

Blum will produce with Oyelowo executive producing with Couper Samuelson, Jeanette Voltron, and Jay Martin.

Oyelowo was nominated for a Gold Globe for his role as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ava DuVernay’s Selma. He will soon be seen in Paramount and Bad Robot’s new Cloverfield movie. He also voices Agent Kallus in the animated series Star Wars Rebels.

Sweetheart

The upcoming survival horror film Sweetheart comes from Sleight director J.D. Dillard. It will star Hanna Mangan Lawrence (Containment, Spartacus: Vengeance), Benedict Samuel (Gotham, The Walking Dead), Kiersey Clemons (Dope), and Emory Cohen (Brooklyn).

The plot for this project is also being kept under wraps.

Blum, Bill Karesh, Dillard, Alex Theurer, and Alex Hyner will produce. The story was co-written by Dillard, Theurer, and Hyner.

Sleight was Dillard’s feature directorial debut and took in $1.7 million on it’s opening weekend. He is also currently attached to direct and co-write the remake of The Fly for Fox.

Firestarter

After the premiere of Akiva Goldsman’s Stephanie at the Overlook Film Festival in Oregon, the director and Jason Blum announced they were teaming up again for a new adaptation of Stephen King’s 1980 novel, Firestarter.

The novel is about a young girl with pyrokenisis and is used by a government agency who attempts to harness her powers as a weapon. It was made into a film in 1984 and starred a young Drew Barrymore.

Stephen King and Goldsman have had a long relationship. King has given his blessing for Goldsman to do this and will also receive a producer credit on the project.

Goldsman is writing the script with Scott Teems (Rectify). Goldsman also pointed out that they would be focusing on the original novel instead of the 1984 film adaptation. Other projects that Goldsman and Blum have worked on include Paranormal Activity 2, 3, and 4. He also wrote King’s adaptation for The Dark Tower.

No release date has been given.

Halloween

Since the last two remakes of the Halloween franchise from Rob Zombie did not pan out like expected, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green are teaming up with Blumhouse to remake the classic horror film. They state their goal is to ground the series in a more realistic state.

According to McBride:

It was just very simple and just achieved that level of horror that wasn’t corny and it wasn’t turning Michael Myers into some supernatural being that couldn’t be killed. That stuff to me isn’t scary, I want to be scared by something that I really think can happen. So, for us, we were like we have to make sure that this is something we actually would want to see or else its’ not worth doing. We came up with a take that we thought was cool, and then we actually went and pitched to John Carpenter, and he loved it. He was into it. It was like insane to have his seal of approval and to have him respond to where we were talking about taking Michael Myers next.

Carpenter will join as an executive producer on the new film with Blumhouse Productions.

The series has had its ups and downs during the last twenty years. Even with the renewed interest of horror films in the late 90’s, thanks to Scream, Halloween only received a lukewarm reception, even with Jamie Lee Curtis making a reappearance.

Maybe this time around, McBride and Gordon Green can properly scare the audiences into the theater.

Glass

Spoiler warning for M. Night Shyamalan’s Split.

At the end of the multiple personality thriller, it was revealed that the film takes place in the same universe as the 2000 film Unbreakable. Now, Shyamalan has announced that Glass will be released next year and act as a sequel to both Split and Unbreakable.

He hasn’t revealed anything about the story, but that Glass will finally answer nearly two decades’ worth of questions about a possible sequel to Unbreakable, which will feature the return of Bruce Willis as David Dunn, Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass and how they interact with James McAvoy’s Split character and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke.

Shyamalan’s script has been completed. He will direct with Blumhouse producing. Currently the released date is January 18, 2019.

The Purge

The success of The Purge franchise surprised many, showing that audiences were intrigued by the concept of a twelve-hour freedom from the law. The original film had a budget of $3 million and grossed over $89 million. The following two installments each earned over $110 million. Currently the fourth film will be released in July 2018.

However, Blumhouse has now announced they are teaming with Syfy and USA to also bring The Purge to the small screen.

Franchise creator James DeMonaco and Jason Blum spoke at the NBCUniversal’s upfront and described the series as “an entirely new chapter in America’s 12 hours of annual lawlessness.” Unlike the films, the series would focus on the other 364 days of the year and how the law affects the people.

The Purge television series will air on Syfy and USA in 2018.




HBO Heads for LOVECRAFT COUNTRY with GET OUT Director Jordan Peele

[Banner image courtesy HarperCollins Publishers/Jarrod Taylor]

If you read Mindy Inlow’s SciFi4Me article a few weeks back, you already know that HBO is preparing for the end of Game of ThronesSeveral thousand (OK, four five) GoT spinoffs are now being developed. But thanks to Get Out director Jordan Peele, there’s going to be at least one horror adaptation among the fantasy epics.

Earlier this week, Deadline Hollywood reported exclusively that Peele and HBO, working with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Warner Bros Television, are adapting Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel Lovecraft Country as an hour-long drama. According to the article, the producers are aiming to make “an anthological horror series that reclaims genre storytelling from the African-American perspective.” Misha Green, co-creator of WGN’s historical drama series Underground, will write the pilot episode and serve as series showrunner.

Lovecraft Country begins as a road trip story in a slightly off-kilter 1950’s America.  Atticus Black comes home to Chicago from a tour of duty in Korea. He discovers his estranged father is missing, and the few clues remaining lead him on a journey to Ardham, Massachusetts … and Lovecraft Country.

Matt Ruff, author of Lovecraft Country © 2006 Michael Hilliard/MHHM

If the television version of Lovecraft Country aims to tell stories in an anthology format, there’s a wealth of folklore to tap into. It’ll be interesting to see what happens after the series tells the story in Ruff’s novel. Will the series continue to explore a Lovecraftian inspired mythos specific to the novel? Or will it move into folklore-inspired stories based on the African-American experience – like the paths taken in movies such as To Sleep With Anger (1990, Dir. Charles Burnett), Eve’s Bayou (1997, Dir. Kasi Lemmons) or Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012, Dir. Benh Zeitlin)?

Jordan Peele’s Get Out maintains a 99% Fresh Rating at Rotten Tomatoes. (image courtesy Get Out Official Facebook page)

Howard Philips Lovecraft (1891-1937) has, to put it mildly, a complicated legacy in the horror genre. Alongside his undeniable imagination and creative energy is a clear record of unabashed racism.  Perspectives on HPL vary wildly; passionate defenders like anthologist S. T. Joshi (visit his blog and scroll down to the 11-24-15 entry) contrast with authors like Daniel Jose Older, who launched the petition that ultimately moved the World Fantasy Convention to drop  HPL as the image of their award in 2015.

Joshi protested the decision by returning the awards he received from the group. You can check our article on the new award design here.

Perhaps it’s easier to deal with the views of an author when they’re safely removed from our own time by a hundred years. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), my favorite Great American Novelist, created the quintessential heroine in Hester Prynne and acted as a higher-brow creator dark gothic tales along with his contemporary Edgar Allan Poe. Hawthorne also held the deeply racist views of his time.

Richard Klayman, in his essay “What Should We Make of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Racism?” quotes Hawthorne biographer Philip McFarland about the discomfort in admiring the superlative work of people who have very real faults. “We would prefer that those we admire be admirable in every way.”

Unlike Hawthorne, HPL is of our time. He is intimately connected to the changes in society in 20th and 21st century America. Books like Lovecraft Country specifically address his complex legacy and movies (like Get Out) telling socially relevant stories through the lens of the horror genre insure that we’ll be debating HPL for some time to come.

 

 




ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: The SANTA CLARITA DIET Season Finale!

Banner_ZombpocalypseNow

With The Walking Dead done for the season, #TeamZombie turn their attention to the first season finale of the darkly comedic feast that is Santa Clarita Diet! It’s Zombpocalypse Now!


Season 1, Episode 10 “Baka, Bile and Baseball Bats”

Written by Clay Graham, Directed by Dean Parisot

Timothy: Could you cough a bit more? And maybe tap on the table a few more times?

Dustin: I was sick, and you know it. And I… tap on things. Sometimes. Not all the time.

Timothy: Mmmm hmmm. You know I can’t cut all of those out, right?

Dustin: You know I don’t think about that at all, right?

Mindy: While these two descend into petty bickering, as is their wont, I would just like to point out that we did get the podcast back under 35 minutes for the first time in weeks, which would be even more impressive if the actual episode of Santa Clarita Diet we were talking about was actually over 30 minutes itself, but hey. We take our victories where we can. Also, for whatever reason, we again have a lot of air noise in the recording that fiendishly resisted removal, so maybe Mr. Harvey needs to check on the recording gear and see what the issue there is. We’ll keep you apprised, because we do want the listening part of this thing to be as pleasant as possible. 

Stay tuned for a special Movie Review edition of Zombpocalypse Now, out later this week, where Tweedledee and Tweedledum over here will explain to me what went wrong with the latest film in the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant. Be advised that they swear a lot, so bleeping will be plentiful. They really are not meant to be out among the civilized peoples. 

Dustin: Hey…

Mindy: ALSO, if you enjoy this podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes and Podcasts.com, because that helps new listeners find us, and that’s always nice. If you don’t enjoy this podcast, it’s Tim and Dustin’s fault.

Timothy: Hang on…

Mindy: AND, please listen to all the other great podcasts we have on SciFi4MeRadio, because very few of them have as many squabbling children as this one.

Timothy: Lady has a point.

Dustin: It’s a fair cop. 

Mindy: We’ll see you all next week, where we’ll talk about things and stuff, and probably American Gods. Thanks for listening!

 

 




Cancellations & Renewals Part One: What Survived for the Fall TV Schedule?

Alrighty now. These last few weeks we have been getting updates to what shows have been saved and what shows are biting the dust. Plus we have been keeping track of what newbies have been picked up by the networks that just may be interesting. So below is a list (with more coming as news comes out from the remaining upfronts) so that our readers can properly plan for their 2017-2018 TV time.

Click on the links for additional stories on those shows. And if you see that we have missed your favorite genre show, let us know so we can share it with others!

Listed below are the series pick-ups we know about:

  • Black Lightning (The CW)
    • Retired superhero Jefferson Pierce steps back into his secret identity as the wanted vigilante Black Lightning when a local gang tries to recruit his daughter, a star student with powers of her own.
  • The Crossing (ABC)
    • Refugees from a war torn country seek asylum in an American town. However, these refugees are from American and the war they flee is 250 years in the future.

https://youtu.be/4qNDIe8tcr8

  • Deception (ABC)
    • Superstar magician Cameron Black’s career ends due to a scandal. So he joins the FBI to become the first consulting illusionist, using his art of deception, illusion, and influence to help the government solve crimes that defy explanation.
  • Ghosted (Fox)
    • A skeptic is forced to work with a believer of paranormal to solve unexplained occurrences in Los Angeles for a government agency.

https://youtu.be/ubbjVowDuys

  • The Gifted (Fox)
    • Two parents take their children on the run after they discover their children have mutant abilities.

https://youtu.be/4I_htkGJAZ4

https://youtu.be/qTzW9rMcbzk

  • The Inhumans (ABC)
    • The Inhuman Royal family escape Hawaii after a military take over with the goal to save themselves and the world.

https://youtu.be/6-5aJgj3TPg

  • The Orville (Fox)
    • Set 400 years in the future, a motley crew of a not-so-top-of-the-line exploratory ship, the Orville, join the divorced captain and first officer as they navigate fascinating and sometimes dangerous adventures as well as their work environment.

https://youtu.be/Yy9sKeCE8V0

  • The Passage (Fox)
    • A girl tries to save the human race from a post-apocalyptic world run by vampires.
  • Searchers (The CW)
    • A pragmatic brother and free spirited sister team up ten years after their parents death to discover their mothers terrible and bizarre stories will guide them to discover the great legends, myths, and explainable mysteries of the world.
  • Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)
    • New Star Trek series, plot unknown, but it’s said to take place between Enterprise and The Original Series, and may be set in the Prime universe instead of the J.J. Abrams “Kelvin” timeline.

https://youtu.be/CKuZINgyR-c

  • Big Hero 6 (Disney XD)
    • Big Hero 6 will continue where the film ended with the continuing adventures of 14-year-old tech genius Hiro, his lovable, cutting-edge robot Baymax and their friends as they protect their city from scientifically enhanced villains while also balancing out regular life as new students at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.

https://youtu.be/lERm84raglA

  • Ducktales (Disney XD)
    • The adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his nephews as they search for treasures around the world and protect Scrooge’s fortune.

https://youtu.be/nY_xCXE0sIc

  • Ghost Wars (Syfy)
    • A local outcast in an Alaskan town must over come the towns prejudices and his own personal demons to be able to harness his repressed psychic powers to save the locals from a mass haunting that is threatening to kill them.
  • The Haunted (Syfy)
    • Four siblings reuinted after the death of their parents, trying to fix their fractured relationships so they can face the literal ghosts of their pasts in order to survive.
  • Krytpon (Syfy)
    • The show follows the Man of Steels grandfather of the house of El after they are shamed and ostracized as he fights to redeem his families honor and save his world from chaos.
  • Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger (Freeform)
    • The story of two teens with powers — she can throw light daggers, he can engulf people and objects in darkness — who are drawn together in a romantic entanglement made more complicated by the differences in their backgrounds.

https://youtu.be/411EofIqiaM

  • Marvel’s New Warriors (Freeform)
    • Six young people with powers who work and live together. However, their powers are not quite like the Avengers. They want to make a difference in the world – even if the world is not quite ready for them.
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man (Disney XD)
    • The animated story of an unsure but courageous teenage who has to learn to be a hero from the very beginning.

https://youtu.be/RmRh4o0y8Iw

  • Siren (Freeform)
    • According to legend, Bristol Cove once was home to mermaids.  A mysterious girl arrives and proves the folklore to be true which starts a battle between the townsfolk and the predatory creatures trying to reclaim their right to the ocean.

https://youtu.be/QrtY7OnVlw8

  • Castle Rock (Netflix)
    • Set in Stephen King’s fictional down of Castle Rock, each season would follow a different set of characters and storylines with intersecting themes and certain characters from previous seasons.
  • Marvel’s Runaways (Hulu)
    • A diverse group of six teenagers discover they have one thing in common: their parents are a part of an evil crime organization.

Listed below are the renewals that we know:

BROADCAST:

  • The 100 (The CW)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
  • Arrow (The CW)
  • Exorcist (Fox)
  • The Flash (The CW)
  • Gotham (Fox)
  • iZombie (The CW)
  • The Last Man on Earth (Fox)
  • Legends of Tomorrow (The CW)
  • Lucifer (FOX)
  • Once Upon A Time (ABC)
  • The Originals (The CW)
  • Riverdale (The CW)
  • Supergirl (The CW)
  • Supernatural (The CW)
  • Timeless (NBC)
  • The X-Files (Fox)

CABLE:

  • 12 Monkeys (Syfy) – through fourth and final season in 2018
  • American Horror Story (FX) – through Season 9
  • Beyond (Freeform)
  • Channel Zero (Syfy) – through Season 4
  • Colony (USA)
  • Dark Matter (SyFy)
  • The Expanse (SyFy)
  • Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)
  • Humans (AMC)
  • Into the Badlands (AMC)
  • The Last Ship (TNT)
  • Legion (FX)
  • The Librarians (TNT)
  • The Magicians (SyFy)
  • Outlander (Starz) – through Season 4
  • People of Earth (TBS)
  • Scream (MTV)
  • The Shannara Chronicles (moving to Spike)
  • Shadowhunters (Freeform)
  • Van Helsing (Syfy)
  • Westworld (HBO)
  • Z Nation (Syfy)

STREAMING:

Listed below are the cancellations we know about:

  • Emerald City (NBC)
  • Frequency (The CW)
  • Making History (Fox)
  • Powerless (NBC)
  • Scream Queens (Fox)
  • Sleepy Hollow (Fox)
  • Son of Zorn (Fox)

 




ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: A Little Salt For The SANTA CLARITA DIET

Banner_ZombpocalypseNow

With The Walking Dead done for the season, #TeamZombie turn their attention to the final episodes of the darkly comedic feast that is Santa Clarita Diet! It’s Zombpocalypse Now!


Season 1, Episode 8 
“How Much Vomit?”
Written by Aaron Brownstein & Simon Ganz, Directed by Steve Pink

Season 1, Episode 9 “The Book!”
Written by Sarah Walker, Directed by Tamra Davis

Zombpocalypse Now: Santa Clarita Diet

Dustin: I really don’t remember recording this episode. My sinuses are trying to kill me.

Mindy: You did. We were there.

Dustin: I’m not sure I believe you. 

Timothy: Dude. Your voice is right there. You use the words and everything.

Dustin: You could have constructed it out of pieces of previous episodes. 

Timothy: I so don’t have the time for that. Are you insane?

Dustin: Mindy is a cyborg now. She could have… used her cyborg powers.

Mindy: This is true. I do have the vast and terrible cyborg powers.

Timothy: Uh huh. Sure you do. Anyway, I would like to apologize to the folks at home for some weirdness with the audio. The levels are off, so it jumps up and down a bit on the volume in places.

Mindy: You can understand us though. Well, as much as anyone can ever understand us.

Timothy: We do make sense at least some of the time.

Dustin: Do we though? Eh. Maybe. I still don’t remember recording this. My sinuses are trying to kill me. Have I mentioned that?

Mindy: You have. And I’ll just mention that we have a lot of other podcasts you can listen to on iTunes and Podcasts.com, and we would love it if you’d rate and comment on this podcast. It helps people find it and build our audience.

Timothy: That would be great, yes. Thanks for listening folks, and we’ll be back next week with more Zombpocalypse Now!

 




Folklore and Restless Ghosts Make a Haunting Mix in LORD OF TEARS

 

[All images courtesy Hex Media]

 

Lord of Tears
Written by Sara Daly
Directed by Lawrie Brewster
Produced by Hex Media, Dark Dunes Productions
Copyright 2016 (Special Edition)

 

 

 

Can a movie still be a satisfying viewing experience even if some the elements don’t quite work for the viewer? In the case of Lord of Tears from Scotland’s Hex Media, the answer is yes.

Lord of Tears isn’t without issues (more about that below). But Director Lawrie Brewster mixes classic ghost story tropes, an atmospheric setting and strong cinematography to produce a movie that creates, in the word of ghost story master M. R. James, “a pleasing terror.”

Lord of Tears was originally released in 2013 as The Owlman. Hex Media recently released a spiffed up version (including a new sound mix and brand new edit) available for a free viewing to people who sign up for the Hex Media mailing list. Lord of Tears is worth it – and crew at Hex Media look like they’re putting their heart & soul into creating interesting, original horror with a Caledonian touch.

Here’s a look at the trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReJ5rcNDRZ4

Teacher James Findlay (Euan Douglas) receives word of his mother’s (Nancy Joy Page) death. After a sparsely attended funeral supported by his friend Allen (Jamie Scott Gordon), his childhood friend who is dealing with his own father’s terminal illness, a bit of disquieting mystery seeps into the reading of his mother’s will when the solicitor (Alan Ireby) hands James a letter. Apparently, Mrs. Findlay insisted the letter be hand delivered  to her son by the solicitor upon her death.

The letter warns her son to never go to one of the properties he has inherited, a stately, desolate house in the Scottish Highlands. Which of course prompts James to make a beeline for the place.

 

Argdour House – the breakout star of Lord of Tears.

The only other person he meets at the house is Eve Turner (Alexandra Nicole Hulme), a free-spirited American claiming to live in the coach house while keeping an eye on the property.  “Evie” and James begin to fall in love as memories of his childhood resurface. Mixed in with the joy of new love are dreams of his friend Allen wielding a bloody ax, a basement cavern lit by red candles, and a man with an owl’s head and hands of long cruel talons warning of disaster.

As James learns more about his childhood, his parents and the cruel history of the house he inherited, the pasts – and futures – of Evie, Allan and James become intertwined and overshadowed by the warnings from the Lord of Tears.

What Didn’t work (for me)

*(Spoiler Alert – Don’t clink on the following link until after you’ve seen Lord of Tears). As a ghost story fan, I was already suspicious of the overly helpful Evie. But I could not get into or understand Evie as a character (instead of a trope) until she … um …  revealed a new aspect of her personality and truly came to life.

 

The only other person James meets at his childhood home is the oh-so-helpful Evie.

*I wish there’d been a clearer connection drawn between James, his friend Allen, and their connection to each other and the house James inherited. I understood enough about their relationship to make sense of the twist at the very end of the story. But for me, the elliptical nature of how their backstory was told didn’t help me connect it to events in the present. The final act in their friendship didn’t quite pack the wallop it could have.

*Some scenes took me out of the story due to their length.  In particular, a scene between Evie and James in the “living room” of the house just seemed to drag to the point where I was actually wondering is this scene going to end soon? The scene did provide clues that played out in the ending of the story – it just felt like it went too long.

 

No cable or cell reception gives everyone plenty of time to read.

What Worked

*The script by Sara Daly script contains – and uses well – all the basics of a good ghost story. In particular, Lord of Tears eminded me of how classic ghost stories like The Old Nurse’s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell and The Mezzotint by M. R. James use the setting to increase the mood of dread and tighten the suspense. The setting becomes a major character without speaking a word.

*Lawrie Brewster masterfully integrates another classic trope ghost story trope; an unsuspecting protagonist interacting with someone who is … not what they appear to be. Another good example of this is the 1995 Aiden Quinn/Kate Beckinsale movie Haunted.

*Argdour House is a perfect setting for a relaxing vacation stay – or a ghost story.  Cannot say enough of the skill Brewester and cinematographer Gavin Robertson used the magnificent isolation of the Scottish setting to build mood and tension.

*Real World Folklore  – The Owlman is an actual folk legend based in Cornwall that works just as well in the Scottish setting of Lord of Tears.

*The Owlman – Kudos to mask sculptor Angela Allan and actor David Schofield  for bringing the Owlman to life. Unlike the overly chatty Freddy Krueger, The Owlman  is an almost motionless entity. But the menacing of tone of the few lines he does utter leaves a menacing aura throughout the movie (and James’s head) that you feel even when he’s not on screen.

Those gigantic black beady eyes and razor sharp claws ….

Hex Media has some interesting project in the pipline (including another Owlman movie that’s almost reached its Kickstarter goal called The Black Gloves) So if Lord of Tears sounds interrguing, check here for more details.

 




ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: Live From PLANET COMICON! (Well, Sort Of)

Banner_ZombpocalypseNow

We didn’t just livestream from Planet Comicon, we also recorded this week’s Zombpocalypse Now in front of a LIVE audience! Listen!

Dustin: Well, we, as usual, said we were going to talk about one thing last week, and here we are, talking about something else.

Timothy: We did, and we are. We said we were going to talk about the last three episodes of Santa Clarita Diet, but instead…

Dustin: We recorded an episode in front of a live audience at Planet Comicon!

Timothy: … just like the last few years. Like the last, what, three years?

Dustin: I am trying to make this sound exciting. You are not helping.

Timothy: It was fun.

Dustin: It was. It was also kind of a greatest hits episode, where we talk about The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and Santa Clarita Diet, and take questions from the audience. Who were awesome.

Timothy: It’s always a great time talking to other fans of these shows we love to hate to love. To hate. To love.

Dustin: It is complicated. But this show isn’t. And you can actually hear the audience! Sort of. Mostly.

Timothy: And every time you tapped on the table. All the times you tapped on the table.

Dustin: I… do that, yes. It’s a thing I do. That table was loud. It’s not my fault.

Timothy: And you can hear it all its glory. We had a good time out there, and we hope you have a good time listening to it.

Mindy: Oh! Hey! Hi! And rate and comment on our podcast and all our other podcasts on iTunes and Podcasts.com! 

Dustin: Where the hell have you been? 

Mindy: Working the floor, getting interviews and SO MUCH MORE! Check out all our great Planet Comicon Coverage! Here at SciFi4Me!