7 items from 2011
31 – Rosemary’s Baby
Directed by Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski’s brilliant horror-thriller was nominated for two Oscars, winning Best Supporting Actress for Ruth Gordon. The director’s first American film, adapted from Ira Levin’s horror bestseller, is a spellbinding and twisted tale of Satanism and pregnancy. Supremely mounted, the film benefits from it’s strong atmosphere, apartment setting, eerie childlike score and polished production values by cinematographer William Fraker. The cast is brilliant, with Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes as the young couple playing opposite Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer, the elderly neighbors. There is ominous tension in the film from first frame to last – the climax makes for one of the greatest endings of all time. Rarely has a film displayed such an uncompromising portrait of betrayal as this one. Career or marriage – which would you choose?
30 – Eraserhead
Directed by David Lynch
Filmed intermittently over the course of a five-year period, »
Alfred Hitchcock and Cecil B. DeMille might have been able to successfully redo their own movies, but more recent auto-remakes, especially ones that find directors cranking out a U.S. version of their own foreign-language hit, have been a motley crew. The best, like Michael Haneke's 2007 Funny Games and Takashi Shimizu's The Grudge, tend to be merely functional enterprises that revisit what worked the first time around with added English-speaking and possibly more famous actors. But others highlight in a painfully clear way the compromises that so often come with working in Hollywood. Ole Bornedal's wan Nightwatch lost the nasty edge of the Danish original and retained no other distinguishing characteristics, and George Sluizer's 1993 The Vanishing ditched the finale of his 1988 Spoorloos, an uncompromisingly bleak and great ending, for a studio-friendly happy one that undoes everything toward which the first film built. »
25 – Halloween
Directed by John Carpenter
1978 – Us
A historical milestone that single-handedly shaped and altered the future of the entire genre. This seminal horror flick actually gets better with age; it’s downright transcendent and holds up with determination as an effective thriller that will always stand head and shoulders above the hundreds of imitators to come. Halloween had one hell of an influence on the entire film industry. You have to admire how Carpenter avoids explicit onscreen violence, and achieves a considerable power almost entirely through visual means, using its widescreen frame, expert hand-held camerawork, and terrifying foreground and background imagery.
24 – Black Christmas
Directed by Bob Clark
1974 – Canada
We never did find out who Billy was. Maybe it’s for the best, since they never made any sequels to Bob Clark’s seminal slasher film, a film which predates Carpenter’s Halloween by four years. Whereas Texas Chainsaw Massacre, released the same year, »
Reports surfaced yesterday that River Phoenix’s last unfinished film, Dark Blood, was to be completed after 18 years. The late actor was still in the midst of shooting the movie — a thriller about a couple in a desert, co-starring Judy Davis — with director George Sluizer (best known for 1988′s Spoorloos/The Vanishing) when he passed away in 1993 at the age of 23. Sluizer reportedly said he was still in touch with the Phoenix family, and that he planned to ask River’s brother, actor Joaquin Phoenix, to provide the voiceover for River’s character.
This was apparently news to Joaquin Phoenix and family, »
- Sara Vilkomerson
Eighteen years after River Phoenix passed on, Dutch director George Sluizer ("Spoorloos") says he will finish the young actor's final film "Dark Blood" with the help of production house Eyeworks says The Hollywood Reporter.
The 23-year-old Phoenix was shooting the 1993 drama when he died of a heart attack in Los Angeles. After Phoenix’s death, Sluizer hid the original footage fearing it would be destroyed.
In the film the actor played a hermit living in the desert on a nuclear testing site as he waits for the end of the world. When a Hollywood jet-set couple (Judy Davis, Jonathan Pryce) arrives to find shelter, he begins a troubled relationship with the wife.
Now he's re-edited the material and believes with a couple of adjustments he can deliver a final cut of the film for release next year though will likely undergo a title change. Sluizer plans to ask Phoenix’s »
- Garth Franklin
The actor, who died outside Hollywood club the Viper Room on Halloween night in 1993 after reportedly ingesting a lethal combination of drugs, had filmed 15 movies in his short career, including notable roles in "Running on Empty" and "Stand By Me."
"Dark Blood" director George Sluizer, who kept the movie under wraps for the past 18 years due to concerns over what might happen to the footage, is gearing up to release his final edit of the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In the movie, co-starring Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis, Phoenix plays a desert-dwelling hermit whose plans for the impending apocalypse are derailed when he meets a young couple who become stranded near his campsite.
Sluizer has made a few changes to the film since it was filmed, most notably enlisting the late actor's brother, »
- Sarah Crow
Belgium has an international profile in some circles -- it is a resource for joke writers and beer connoisseurs -- but in the film world it is more notable as a location or reference (In Bruges, The Brothers Bloom) than as the base for a thriving Flemmish-language film industry. But there are the occasional breakout pictures, and the thriller Loft was one. The 2008 film was a local hit, and is now spawning an English-language remake that will likely star Patrick Wilson and James Marsden. Variety  says that original director Erik Van Looy will direct this remake as well, which will be written by Wesley "A Nightmare on Elm Street" Strick, who will adapt the original script by Bart De Pauw. That's an interesting proposition -- whenever I think of a director remaking his own foreign-language thriller in English, I think of George Sluizer and Spoorloos/The Vanishing. The original is a modern classic, »
- Russ Fischer
7 items from 2011
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