Ashtray Dirt V.12

Sheffield’s Celluloid Screams have announced the first films playing at this October’s horror festival. Taking place from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th, Screams will play host to the UK premiere of Brian Netto’s Delivery, as well as screening Jeremy Gardner’s The Battery, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado’s Big Bad Wolves and a selection of work from claymation filmmaker Lee Hardcastle. Passes go on sale September 20th…

The line up for this years Toronto International Film Festival has been announced, with highlights including The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, Ti West’s The Sacrament, Lucky McKee’s All Cheerleaders Die and the world premiere of Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno. The full line up can be read on the official website

A poster and trailer have dropped for Marvel’ s Thor: The Dark World, which is released in the UK on October 30th…

thor%20the%20dark%20world%20poster

The line up for this year’s nationwide Scalarama month is now up over at the official website

Arrow have announced release dates for a Blu-ray version of Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce, out on September 30th, and a dual-format release of Squirm, out on September 16th…

Sam Rockwell is rumoured to be in talks to star opposite confirmed lead Rosemarie DeWitt in the Poltergeist remake…

A new international trailer has dropped for James Wan’s Insidious: Chapter 2, which hints at the troubled childhood of Patrick Wilson’s character Josh Lambert…


The live action remake of Akira is back on with director Jaume Collett-Serra (Taken) attached, a rumoured much lower budget and a shooting date of the end of 2014…

Paul Greengrass’ latest feature Captain Philips has been announced as the opening film for this year’s London Film Festival

Hot off the announcement of its world premiere at this years TIFF, a set of pictures have been released for Eli Roth’s latest directorial effort The Green Inferno. The film is described as ‘a group of college students take their humanitarian protest from New York to the Amazon jungle, only to get kidnapped by the native tribe they came to save: a tribe that still practices the ancient rite of cannibalism, and has a healthy appetite for intruders’. The Green Inferno currently has no release date…

1-the-green-inferno

3-the-green-inferno

5-the-green-inferno

Advertisements

James Wan’s ‘The Conjuring’ (2013) review

Think of recent supernatural films and chances are that you’ll initially picture the latest entry in the Paranormal Activity  series, or one of its many rip offs, or one of the many recent horror films that have tried to be scary and really, well, haven’t been. Mention Amityville and the likelihood is that you’ll think of the infamous real-life haunting (or was it real…?) and the many films that have rolled off the back of the famous account (including that terrible 2005 remake). For some people, James Wan’s latest feature The Conjuring might sound like another Amityville inspired waste of ninety minutes, but in reality Wan manages to craft a pretty decent modern haunted house story that puts many recent efforts to shame.

conjuring02

The ‘based on a true story’ moniker doesn’t always work for some films, but for The Conjuring this is actually a reality. The film is based on one of the cases that real-life paranormal investigators and demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren dealt with. More famously known for being some of the first investigators to look into the Amityville Haunting, Ed and Lorraine have investigated over 10,000 hauntings in their career, one of which involved the Perron family…

Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) move their family, including their five daughters, into a run-down house in Harrisville, Rhode Island.  The illusion of the perfect new spacious family home is shattered when strange things start happening and the young girls start seeing and interacting with spirits. As the incidents escalate, Carolyn seeks out Ed and Lorraine, well seasoned investigators and demonologists (and gifted clairvoyent in the case of Lorraine), in the hope that they can provide some answers. Once the Warren’s start scratching at the surface of everything, they soon uncover that they are in for more than they bargained for…

IMG_0914.dng

First off, reactions to The Conjuring have been a little mixed. Whilst its done well with critics and is taking the US box office by storm, I have read comments from viewers who, having seen it, weren’t massive fans and it’s easy to understand why. When it comes to action, the film is a bit of a slow burner, and when the action does eventually start to kick in, it does feel a little familiar. Despite the 1970s setting (which is perfectly captured and maintained through some great costume work, ace hairstyles and a few knowing lines in the script), a few of the bedroom scenes feel a bit Paranormal Activity, the location and family sometimes feel a little Amityville Horror and no matter how hard it tries to steer clear of it, there’s no denying that the exorcism scene feels very reminiscent of none other than The Exorcist (whilst not as extreme, its easy to see the influence of the film on the make up). Hell, even the house feels a little Elm Street with its green, white and red colour scheme. Admittedly, some of the scares are predictable in their timing meaning they lose a little of their scare factor, and when it finally comes down to the link between the Perron’s and the Warren’s, you can’t help but feel like the emotional cliché dial has been cranked up to eleven.

That aside, Wan has managed to create a tight little haunted house story for the modern audience, that rightfully shows film makers how its done. Focusing more on character, Wan doesn’t need to rely so much on outrageous set pieces, gore and overuse of special effects (although the hair pulling scene is the perfect case for The Conjuring over doing it) making the picture feel more balanced. The atmosphere is eerie, the scares are jumpworthy (even if ever so slightly too reliant on sound) and when its time to get creepy, it gets creepy quickly and uncomfortably (the film has without a doubt one of the creepiest dolls I’ve ever seen in a film). The film also has some great steady-cam shots, making the audience very familiar with the house itself, giving it its own identity and making it as much a player as the human cast.

CONJURING-HEADLINE

The main thing that makes the film work so well though are the cast. With a few supporting characters aside, the film really does just focus on the Perron family and the Warren’s, siding you with both the fear of Carolyn and her girls and the initial scepticism-come-solve-it attitude of Ed and Lorraine. Patrick Wilson (who has another outing with Wan scheduled for this year, Insidious: Chapter 2) and Vera Farmiga are both terrific, playing off an apparent chemistry with absolute ease and really making their versions of the Warren’s human. Nothing feels clichéd or overly dramatic about their performance which, in the realm of supernatural films and some of the portrayals of psychics and mediums I’ve seen, feels really fresh and enjoyable to watch. Lili Taylor also comes off well, finally doing the haunted house movie she deserves to do after being in the awful mess that wasThe Haunting remake. Concerned, confused, possessed, terrified, loving, she does it all and it’s all underplayed to precision. As for Ron Livingston and his on-screen daughters, they all play scared very well, but ultimately the film belongs to Taylor, Wilson and Farmiga’s perfectly crafted sympathetic portrayals.

For a film which started developement nearly twenty years ago, it seems that the wait was worth it, just in finding the right crew and cast alone. When it gets to the very end and the inevitable but very subtlety well done Amityville reference has passed, you can instantly see why New Line are keen to get a sequel going. When it comes to Amityville, so much is often heard about the house, the Lutz’s and the DeFeo’s that it’s really nice to have a film that actually shows Ed and Lorraine themselves for once (Lorraine even has a cameo). Whilst Amityville has been done numerous times, and The Haunting In Connecticut been and gone (based on another case of the Warren’s), here’s hoping that another one of the many thousands of cases they investigated that isn’t well-known makes it to the screen also.

conjuring_1__span

It’s not the greatest film ever made, but it certainly doesn’t hide what it is. Wan proved he could do haunted and possessed with Insidious and this just cements his talents as a filmmaker. For a studio release, The Conjuring is an original horror that entertains, even if it leaves you feeling more interested in the Warren’s themselves than being scared.

Ashtray Dirt the 11th

This years FrightFest is nearly fully underway with the announcement of the guests who’ll be at the festival in London in August. Don Mancini will be over for Curse Of Chucky (and maybe even the infamous doll itself…), Gareth Evans and Jason Eisener for V/H/S/2 and Bobcat Goldthwait for Willow Creek alongside a whole heap of others, the full list of which you can read here. The festival have also announced that they will honor writer and director Ben Wheatley with their Variety award…

Lars Von Trier has dropped another still from his forthcoming feature Nymphomaniac. The film, which will be released in both hardcore and softcore versions currently has no UK release date, but scheduled European releases for the end of the year…

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Shia LeBeouf in a still from Nymphomaniac

Fox are to open a new theme park in Malaysia featuring an attraction based on the Alien franchise. Better start saving for flights…

Greg Mclean’s Wolf Creek 2 has been selected to play at this years Venice Film Festival…

US Network NBC have announced that a 4 hour mini-series adaptation of Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby is in the works…

Both a new International trailer and poster have dropped for James Wan’s Insidious: Chapter 2, promising scarier poltergeist activity and more scares then its predecessor…

exclusive-insidious-2-poster-141433-a-1375111282-470-75

Channel 4 have acquired the UK rights to screen the second series of the French zombie drama The Returned (Les Revenants). The second series will be eight episodes long and should air in late 2014…

Lastly, an interesting little blog has cropped up, recalling actor Vincent Price’s European travels. Vincent Price Journal is the work of Peter Fuller, the owner of Price’s 1928 European travel journal, who has turned the diary into a real-time blog, posting on approximately the same days in which Price had written…

Happy 10th Ashtray Dirt

A bit of a busy week this week thanks to a certain convention, but here we go! Cast additions have been announced for Adam Wingard’s new project The Guest which is currently in pre-production. Names attached include Maika Monroe (The Bling Ring, Bad Blood), Brendan Meyer and Alex Knight who will star alongside Downtown Abbey‘s Dan Stevens…

Ti West’s latest offering The Sacrament will have its world premiere at this years Venice Film Festival

A new poster and short clip have dropped for James Wan’s Insidious Chapter 2. The very short, and sweet, footage (which you can watch over at IGN) looks like the film will continue to keep the creepy and jumpworthy tone of the original which is promising…

Insidious2_Payoff1Sht_Online-610x903
Dario Argento is apparently preparing an operatic version of Guiseppe Verdi’s Macbeth for the stage. Opening night is currently set at October 4th at the Teatro Coccia in Northern Italy with plans for the opera to be toured at other Italian theaters…

Arrow have announced they are releasing Larry Stewart’s The Initiation on August 5th…

Big news to come out of this years San Diego Comic Con was the confirmation by Zack Snyder that the sequel to the latest Superman film Man Of Steel would indeed see Superman face off against Batman, in a move that feels very reminiscent of Frank Miller’s cult classic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns (an influence according to Snyder). Christopher Nolan will return as an executive producer alongside Henry Cavill as Superman, whilst Christian Bale has shot down any rumours of him appearing as Bruce Wayne (go here to watch the video of the panel crowd going nuts at the announcement). The film has a current release date of 2015…

zack-snyder-confirms-that-man-of-steel-will-be-a-batman-superman-movie-comic-con-2013-140609-a-1374357760-470-75

Synapse Films have announced they are restoring the original negatives of 1980 slasher Prom Night for a HD release…

prom-night

Director Robin Hardy has announced that he has found the missing The Wicker Man footage he had been searching for and a UK Blu-ray and theatrical release of a ‘final cut’ version of the film will happen this September (theatrical) and October (Blu-ray). Hardy announced that “StudioCanal contacted me last year in their search for the original materials that have been missing. I’m very pleased to announce that StudioCanal have been able to find an actual print of The Wicker Man, which is based on my original cut working with Abraxas, the American distributors, all those years ago. They plan, and this is the exciting bit, to actually release it. This version has never been restored before, has never been shown in UK theatres before, has never been converted to Blu-ray before. This version will – optimistically – be known as the Final Cut.”…

Fans were lucky to grab a peek at a teaser trailer for Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla remake at SDCC this week. Word is it looks amazing and Edwards and his team have done a great job so far but no footage has surfaced as of yet (or it has but has been taken down from YouTube). Shooting wrapped this week on the film which is released next year…

movies-godzilla-mondo-comic-con-poster

Scream Factory announced their latest release plans at SDCC, with the biggest coup being Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut for 2014. Other releases include John Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13 for November this year, Saturn 3 and Darkman for December this year and the 1982 version of Cat People for 2014…

Horror festival FrightFest have announced their short film programme for this August’s Bank Holiday weekend. The nine films, all worldwide premieres, will play at certain times ahead of certain films, details of which can be found on the website

Joss Whedon confirmed at SDCC that the sequel to The Avengers would be called Avengers: Age of Ultron. Whedon also dropped the news that the characters Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch will also appear. The film will start shooting in London in March…

avengers-age-of-ultron

Lastly, New Zealand has banned the 2012 remake of Maniac, which stars Elijah Wood, from theatrical and home format release. The Kiwi response is that the first person POV style in which the film is shot makes it too graphic. Under the ruling, this restricts viewings of the film to festivals only….

The Devils Hour – ‘The 3.07AM Project’

To celebrate the US release of James Wan’s The Conjuring, VICE magazine teamed up with the film to commission four shorts by four horror directors inspired by the time 3.07AM. The results are interesting and can be watched below. The best of the bunch are This One For The Lady by Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes, ABC’s Of Death segment A is for Apocalypse), an eerie teeth related horror that makes your molars ache, and One Last Dive by Jason Eisener (Treevenge, Hobo With A Shotgun), a claustrophobic thirty second clip that visualises my dislike of diving quite eloquently. Max Landis’ segment is one of the weaker of the last two, an interesting idea that needs more than thirty seconds to unravel itself, whilst Ti West’s short proves he hasn’t quite caught the hang of making shorts that are as effective as his features (cough M is for Miscarriage cough…). Either way its a good four minutes or so that certainly gets you hungry to see The Conjuring which opens here on August 2nd…

Ashtray Dirt the 7th

First up, today see’s the release of Ben Wheatley’s A Field In England. Available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray and in cinemas, the film will also play tonight on Film4 at 10.45pm…

a-field-in-england

Arrow have announced their latest Blu-ray releases for this month, The Car and Runaway Train…

The line up for this years Film4 FrightFest has been announced. Films playing include You’re Next, Curse of Chucky, V/H/S/2, Rewind This!, The Borderlands and We Are What We Are. The full line up and links to buy tickets can be found over at the official website

2013-Quad-poster950

You’re Next writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard have announced they are prepping their next project, The GuestDowntown Abbey star Dan Stevens has reportedly been cast in the lead role. The Guest follows an ex-marine who is taken in by another fallen comrade’s family until he becomes unwelcome in the new home. Shooting begins this summer…

For anyone concerned that Gareth Edwards would follow Roland Emmerich’s suit and not have his Godzilla breathe fire, these latest on-set pictures would hint otherwise…

godzilla-heat-1

godzilla-heat-3

Universal Halloween Horror Nights have announced their first scare house for this year’s Orlando events – Cabin In The Woods…

Jim Kelly

Enter The Dragon star Jim Kelly has sadly passed away after battling cancer. A skilled martial artist, Kelly went on to star in Black Belt Jones, Three The Hard Way and Black Samurai, but is best known for playing ‘Williams’ opposite Bruce Lee. Kelly was 67…

The latest trailer for James Wan’s The Conjuring has been released and features the real-life Perron family whose experiences inspired the film. Effectively creepy, it’s certainly a new way to market films ‘based on a true story’. The Conjuring is released August 2nd…