18 items from 2014
As someone whose only tattoo happens to be the iconic red lips from The Rocky Horror Picture Show poster, you could say that my interest in seeing the latest horror musical, Stage Fright, was a “sure thing.” Written and directed by Jerome Sable, Stage Fright is a clever, gory and wickedly fun time that truly celebrates everything we love about horror musicals with an unabashed enthusiasm that you can’t help but fall in love with.
Wasting no time, Stage Fright gets gruesome with a stunning opener that finds Broadway star Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) celebrating the performance of a lifetime. Unfortunately for Kylie, that’s exactly what ends up being the case when she is savagely murdered by a masked killer that very evening, leaving her two children- Camilla (Allie MacDonald) and Buddy (Douglas Smith) – in the care of her theatrical producer Roger (Meatloaf). Some years later, Roger opens »
- Heather Wixson
The “horror musical” concept is a bit of an oddity in cinema history. Surely, everyone is aware of the most popular grandaddy of them all, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or Brian DePalma’s underrated classic (that came one year prior in 1974), The Phantom Of The Paradise, which has found a new appreciation in later years. Most of these films are deeply-rooted in cult cinema, as not everyone is as receptive to the genre-smashing as others. In the following decades, similar films have periodically taken stabs; such as Little Shop Of Horrors in 1986, South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Cannibal! The Musical in 1996 and Tim Burton’s 2007 revision of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (which, like Rocky Horror, originally hails from the stage). However, in the last decade, similar films have begun to surface and also attract cult status. Darren Lynn Bousman’s 2008 Repo! »
- Josh Soriano
Horror and the jovial, spontaneous realm of musicals don't collide often on the screen, but when they do, the outcome yields mostly positive and extreme reactions. The Rocky Horror Picture Show became a cult classic, Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "Once More With Feeling" transcended expectations and is considered one of the best episodes to come out of that series, and, more recent efforts like Repo! The Genetic Opera and The Devil's Carnival have curiously carved out a significant Rocky Horror-like fanbase. Whatever your personal thoughts are on those offerings, you have to commend them for fully embracing the radical, unlikely merging of genres. They find their voice, their message and they really just go for it. Stage Fright similarly goes for it enthusiastically and with bloody reverence for the slasher genre. That's right, this is a slasher musical that, in equal measures, goes for the laughs and goes for the throat. »
- Ryan Turek
Red Hour Films
A famous stand up comedian once said: “I don’t get musicals. First, they talk and then they sing. But when they sing, they actually repeat what they were saying the first time.” He really nailed it. It’s like sometimes, these movies don’t want to end. Hours and hours of pointless singing and dancing while the plot is at a standstill can make for one big snoozefest. If any musical can rock a woman’s socks off, most guys see them as entire parts of their life that they’ll never get back.
There’s a target audience for musicals as there is one for hardcore horror movies – they’re just not for everyone. The truth is, musicals are essentially marketed to a young female audience – and the feminine side of the male audience. There’s no rule that says musicals have to be only aimed at teenage girls. »
- Matthieu Gandin
The agency also committed post production funds to director/producer/writer Shane Abbess.s futuristic sci-fier Infini and two feature documentaries, Damon Gameau.s That Sugar Film and Gracie Otto.s The Last Impresario.
In this funding round, the second last of the current financial year, a total of $4.3 million was invested.
Top of the Lake co-director Garth Davis will direct A Long Way Home, based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian-born Australian who found his birth mother 25 years after they were separated.
It will be produced by See-Saw and Sunstar Entertainment, which optioned the rights to Brierley.s autobiography last year. He was five when he fell asleep on a train bound for Calcutta. Scared and alone, he »
- Don Groves
Hedwig’s gonna put on some makeup, turn on the tape deck, and put the wig back on his head this season in the person of multi-Emmy winner Neil Patrick Harris, a.k.a. Greatest Tony Host Ever. Mr. Harris will be returning to Broadway in the first-ever Main Stem production of the already-classic rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The show centers on Hedwig, self-described “internationally ignored song stylist” who struggles with identity after a botched sex-change operation and rages against a former lover who’s used Hedwig’s music to craft a hugely successful career. (The production »
- Jason Clark
South By Southwest has been full of slow-burn horror this year, creating a pattern of early calms followed by short bursts of pandemic horror – some good, some bad. Film festivals aren’t meant for routines though, they’re meant to be places where a large variety of genre insanity can be found, insanity exactly like Stage Fright. Think The Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Friday the 13th, with ample doses of Dimebag Darrell level shreddage, and you’ve got the formula for a face-melting horror musical ripe with infectious energy and deadly sing-alongs. It’s a rare treat when a horror film can have me smiling from start to finish, but a continually inviting rock opera drenched in blood and littered with guts? That’s an event I’d put on my Sunday best for.
Taking place at a struggling theater camp where future stars come to hone their passion, »
- Matt Donato
At first glance, "horror movie" and "musical" would seem like a terrible mix. Musicals are often a celebration of human emotions whereas horror films frequently try to evoke and provoke those unpleasant things that terrify us all. But of course there is the cult classic granddaddy called The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), which is not only a horror movie and a musical, but also a maniacal love letter to old-fashioned horror movies and musicals. (Brian De Palma's 1974 film The Phantom of the Paradise also deserves a mention in this category.)
From Rocky Horror on there has been a calm but steady trickle of films that have little to no problem combining singing and dancing with scary stories. Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Cannibal: The Musical (1997), Sweeney Todd (2007), and Repo! The Genetic Opera (2009) still find new fans today because they're able to introduce horror ideas to musical presentations with various types »
- Scott Weinberg
Perhaps the only news of note this week is that in a move echoing what they did with Breaking Bad, Netflix has swooped in and gained rights to the TV series of From Dusk Til Dawn made in the states for Robert Rodriguez’s new El Rey network cable channel. Netflix will stream the episodes the day after they air in the states every week, curiously they are still billing this as ‘A Netflix Original’ when this isn’t the case necessarily. I have no idea as to the quality of this, the film From Dusk Til Dawn was one of my favourites when I was a teenager but how you drag that out into a ten part TV show I don’t know, let alone a possible second series. I watched the trailer and it looks solid and well-made as opposed to a cheap cash in and features Don Johnson »
- Chris Holt
(Brian De Palma, 15, Arrow, 1974)
In 1974, after a decade making low-budget, semi-underground movies, Brian De Palma thought he was about to enter the big time when 20th Century Fox paid $2m for this wild satire on indulgent rock musicians and the corrupt industry that exploited them. Basically it's a transposition of The Phantom of the Opera to the modern pop world, where an evil impresario, Swan (the diminutive, baby-faced composer Paul Williams,, who also wrote the songs), steals a pretentious rock cantata from Winslow Leach, its naive author, and frames him on drugs charge.
After he's been disfigured by a record-pressing machine, Winslow returns to seek revenge by haunting Swan's theatre, the Paradise. The piece also draws on Goethe's Faust, Wilde's Dorian Gray and Edgar Allan Poe, and refers to movies ranging from Psycho (the shower scene is reprised using a plunger) and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.
But De Palma »
- Philip French
If I was to confess that I’d not seen Phantom of the Paradise before I was sent the Arrow Video Blu-ray release for review I’m sure there are many out there who haven’t seen it too. For somebody like me though who has an obsession with films I’ve not seen yet (they tend to pray on my mind), I jump at the chance to see films like Phantom of the Paradise – and with this release I’m very glad I did.
Phantom of the Paradise is a rock opera that takes a little dash of Faust, a little Phantom of the Opera and some The Picture of Dorian Gray and creates something pretty spectacular. It tells the tale of Winslow Leach (William Finley »
- Paul Metcalf
When Lgbt people leave the safety of the city in films, it usually spells bad news – and Stranger by the Lake and Tom at the Farm don't buck the trend
Gay people and the city have been a good match since Sodom and Gomorrah. From the molly houses of 18th-century London to 1970s San Francisco via prewar Berlin, the urban environment has always been the natural habitat of queer culture – a place where Lgbt people can set their own rules, form their own families, be anonymous when they want to and find company when they fancy it. The countryside, on the other hand, is the place they escape from – a realm of social conformity with limited opportunities for culture, sex or socialising, and perhaps even a site of danger.
That's the stereotype, anyway, both in reality and on screen. Innumerable movies with claims to gay-classic status are inseparable from their urban settings: London has Victim, »
- Ben Walters
Scottish actor Christopher Malcolm, who was a regular screen presence through the early seventies through the late eighties, and a cast regular on hit British comedy Absolutely Fabulous, died today at the age of 67. His passing was confirmed by his daughter, playwright Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, via Twitter. Today the world lost a beautiful, brilliant man. My dad Christopher Malcolm left peacefully and with dignity. He will always be my hero. X — morgan lloyd malcolm (@mogster) February 15, 2014 In addition to his television and film roles, Malcolm was an accomplished, classically trained Shakespearean actor, beginning his career with the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company in England. He performed in standards like “Macbeth” and ”Hamlet,” though his push to mainstream audiences came during his appearance as Brad Majors in The Royal Court Theatre’s original run of “The Rocky Horror Show” in 1973. While a number of the stage cast transitioned to Jim Sharman’s big screen adaptation, The Rocky Horror Picture Show »
- Dustin Hucks
James Franco and his Rabbit Bandini Productions have acquired the rights to the book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, which follows the making of Tommy Wiseau's 2003 cult classic The Room.
The book was written by star of that movie Greg Sestero alongside journalist Tom Bissell. James Franco will direct and co-produce, with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's Point Grey Productions. Ryan Moody is writing the screenplay.
Greg Sestero starred alongside Tommy Wiseau in The Room, which has been called the all-time worst movie ever made. Tommy Wiseau directed, produced, and self financed the project, which was only released in Southern California during the early 2000s, before word spread that it was something that needed to be seen to be believed. Nearly nine years after it was released, it started to achieve cult status, especially amongst young actors in Hollywood, and it is now recognized as »
How I Live Now comes to the small screen on Monday 10th February. The film was released in cinemas during the tail end of last summer and in doing so found itself lost among some of the bigger budget movies but with its imminent Home Entertainment release, all this is set to change.
Directed by Kevin Macdonald (whom we spoke to earlier this week), the film stars Saoirse Ronan and George MacKay as Daisy and Eddie, cousins who meet and fall in love just as Britain faces war. It is very much a film of two halves with the first being full of love, vibrancy and sunshine and the second being bleak and dark in tone.
- Kat Smith
Gracie Otto’s debut feature [pictured] will make its market debut at Efm.
Dogwoof has acquired international sales rights to The Last Impresario.
A UK theatrical release is planned for late 2014.
Vesna Cudic, head of TV sales and acquisitions at Dogwoof, commented: “We are always looking for inspirational stories about extraordinary individuals, films such as Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present or most recently Mike Myers’ Supermensch. The Last Impresario is a perfect addition to our slate.”
“I’m so pleased that Dogwoof shares our enthusiasm »
- email@example.com (Ian Sandwell)
A discussion on Kansas City public radio about cult movies prompts this week’s Question. From Kcur.org 89.3Fm:
In his 1981 book, fittingly titled, Cult Movies, film critic Danny Peary defined cult films as “special films which for one reason or another have been taken to heart by segments of the movie audience, cherished, protected, and most of all, enthusiastically championed.”
Our own film professor, Thom Poe, divides up cult films into different areas. Some cult films fall into the “so bad they’re good” category. This would include anything made by Ed Wood or more recently, anything made by The Asylum.
Another category would be considered “quality” cult films. These are films that didn’t get any notice when they were first released, but over the years, have developed very loyal followings. Films like Shock Corridor, Freaks, Donnie Darko, and The Big Lebowski keep audiences returning to theaters year after year. »
- MaryAnn Johanson
It was on a dreary night in January that yet another studio beheld the accomplishment of its toils with the release of I, Frankenstein, the latest film inspired by Mary Shelley’s pivotal novel, as well as Kevin Grevioux’s comic.
Monsters have always been big business in the movie industry. While Shelley may have called hers “creature” or “wretch”, calling into question its wickedness, Hollywood doesn’t always have such a sympathetic view.
So as I, Frankenstein lurches into cinemas, we decided it might be time to take stock of the highs and lows of Man’s overreaching pride, with six crazy creations from film, stage, and the small screen.
1. Frankenstein (1931)
No discussion of Frankenstein could be complete without James Whale’s renowned interpretation from 1931. Boris Karloff’s rendition of the creature is the make-up job that launched a thousand parodies, rip-offs and Halloween costumes. But it’s no wonder. »
- Claire Joanne Huxham
18 items from 2014
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