This comes hot on the heels of the stunning perspective on Godzilla given by Empire magazine’s April special subscriber cover:
Godzilla opens 16 May 2014 and stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn and Bryan Cranston. The screenplay is by Max Borenstein, Frank Darabont, and Dave Callaham.
This is from the “rising island” scene: Awesome! You can even see the hydrogen bomb that’s about to be exploded!
For the record, here’s the regular cover for the upcoming issue of Empire that features Godzilla 2014:
The Lost World concept has a long and successful history in fiction and on film. From Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World) through to Merian Cooper’s 1933 King Kong (and later remakes) to Spielberg’s Jurassic Park series, writers and filmmakers have explored the idea of an isolated part of the planet where the remnants of prehistoric life linger on (or have been reborn), infiltrated now by an expeditionary team of some kind. Scientists, adventurers and entrepreneurs must face the lost world’s monstrous inhabitants and survive — though survival is by no means guaranteed. It is a popular trope that never seems to lose its appeal, as unexplored places in the real world become more and more scarce.
Even in 2014, parts of the Amazon remain a mystery. A new, much anticipated monster film, The Expedition (UK; dir. Adam Spinks), follows the journey of a scientific expedition trekking deep into the Amazon jungle seeking rare species.
Deep in the Amazon jungle a research team lead by a respected Professor strive to protect vulnerable and endangered species. However, after a series of strange events, the superstitious guides abandon the team, who, faced with a tough decision, decide to remain deep in the jungle in an attempt to complete their study… But as night falls they begin to realize that all is not as it seems and that they are in the hunting ground of an apex predator…. Something they never could have imagined.
Though hints of what they find have been given (the film is described as “a monster movie”, whatever it is “has evolved” and images of dinosaurs appear in the film’s Facebook page), the exact nature of “the monster” remains a secret. Will the team members survive the experience? What is the thing they discover? Well, apparently we are about to find out. The website is on a countdown to “the big reveal”. As I type this, the revelation is 13 hours, 57 minutes away.
“It’s an incredible story we’re telling here,” says Sarah MacDonnell, who plays one of the expedition members, “I’ve never seen anything of this size and scale done in this way before. We’re doing some really exciting stuff with the characters.”
Director Spinks is extremely positive about the prospects. “I’m excited to be bringing such a remarkable project as The Expedition to the big screen,” he said. “When Ben [Loyd-Holmes] first approached me about the film I was gripped by the concept. This is a real thrill ride of a movie that will have audiences on the edge of their seats.”
Despite the ancestry of the basic concept, Spinks is adamant that The Expedition came together in a way that is fresh and exciting.
“That’s the challenge now in filmmaking that we all face — coming up with new and
exciting ideas for the audience. That became our mantra in making the movie… what has NOT been done before in the genre… And we made it our mission to do as much of it as possible.”
Keen to ensure the “reality” of the film, both in terms of character development and the monsters themselves, Loyd-Holmes (pictured above as Professor Howson) was convinced that, in terms of the VFX, physicality remained a key issue. “I was determined to have a physical creature,” he commented. “And it was in the research phase that we found the mechanisms and technology that could be combined to create the creatures. With that the project accelerated. Once I was sure the practical elements of the film could be done, I set about refining the idea, as well as putting together the team and this has gone from being an ambitious idea to becoming a project I’m incredibly proud of.”
The cast of The Expedition includes Best Actor Nominee (Film Guild BIHF), Ben Loyd-Holmes (Skyfall, Da Vinci’s Demons, Torchwood), Neil Newbon (Holby City, Hollyoaks), Sarah MacDonnell (Secret Diary Of A Call Girl, Montana), Ernesto Cantu (World War Z), Daniel Caren (The Girl Is Mime, The Hike, The Bill) as well as Simon Burbage (Pulp: The Movie), Dolores Reynals (There Be Dragons), Ross O’Hennessy (Da Vinci’s Demons) and Emma Lillie-Lees.
So far the response has been strong. The Expedition was very well-received at MCM Expo London Comic Con and Undead Backbrain’s news-creature Avery Guerra reports that at one point the film surpassed Godzilla on IMDb’s list of the most anticipated monster movies of 2014. “That’s a pretty amazing feat for an indie,” Avery commented.
Producer Loyd-Holmes agrees. “The response from people out there to what we’re doing has been amazing. This kind of movie is normally left to big studios, but we’ve approached it in a new and exciting way… We’ve been inventive, tried to do something special… I’m really pleased to have made this movie and I cannot wait to bring the audience something that feels so real, yet is just so magical.”
From the stills we’ve obtained, the shoot location is both authentic and spectacular and the cast clearly made some interesting friends.
So, the question remains: what lurks outside the tent and what will we see 14 hours from now when the “big reveal” takes place?
It seems that web series have replaced the old serials that were, once upon a time, screened before movies at the local cinema. The latest is a noirish thriller called Bermuda City, produced, written and directed by Julian Jay Burton, who also features in it in an acting role.
Interestingly, the web series is being produced as promotional “world-building” for an upcoming graphic novel series. “The scheme is to build an anticipation for the Red Crow Comics universe — leverage in a sense,” Burton told the Backbrain. “Mainstream film studios are using a similar scheme by targeting powerhouses like D.C. and Marvel, as their heroes have much pre-existing clout as mythical characters to the masses. These figures have been around for over half an century, so leverage is grand. This is why we’re attacking this method now.”
Detective Jordan Long is a fugitive, framed for killing fellow cops. Surrounded by death, deceit and betrayal, his only option is to dig for clues which lead him to answers that will test his humanity.
We asked Burton about the world-building that has gone into the series:
Bermuda City is an fictional island city that is actually built on an asteroid that hit earth three centuries ago. There is a dark cosmetic energy that is embedded within the asteroid that draws evil. So there’s no coincidence that bizarre events occur. The geography of the city is a mix between Denver and Seattle. I wanted to present a different landscape beyond the typical powerhouses like NY, Chicago, LA, etc.
I thought the title was unique. It coincidentally mirrors my film company Bermuda Image. Originally, I had “Winter City” in mind but had to change it being that the title is owned by another comic strip created by associate, Patrick Purcell. In all, I love the title. There are a lot of unknown elements that takes place in the city so I thought the title was appropriate.
What inspired the series?
Honestly, there’s not a grand explanation for the inspiration other than trying to develop original cities for my comic universe. As a filmmaker, I’m aware that the exterior of cities usually play third characters in story and broadens the vision. This brings another element to the overall concept.
I wanted to bring the Red Crow Comics characters to the screen early, versus later. People would be able to explore different dimensions of the characters in a live action series. This perception also carries over to the comics. The comic media is more suitable for the imagination and for the most part doesn’t demand various dimensions of characterization; realistic situations that people could relate to. I guess the director persona demanded that approach.
A page from the comic: rough artwork by Stanley Weaver:
What was your role in the project and your background?
I wore a few hats in the project: director, producer, writer and actor. I’ve been in the entertainment industry for nearly ten years, but was an athlete beforehand. I studied theatre at Calhoun Junior College, after that I volunteered with a few local film productions and eventually became a freelancer. Now I am a freelance writer and acting coach by trade.
Who else was involved?
Other incredible actors collaborated with the project: Michael Garth, Nicole St. Charles, Jennifer Burton, Latosha Baldwin and Kim Vickery. James Ryan Sims was the director of photography and editor. This is our fourth project together. Composers Rayshaun Thompson, Rafal Gościmiński and Kyle Duffy of Media Dynamic put together the scores for the project.
What future do you envisage for Bermuda City?
This will be an ongoing series for a while, safe to say years. We plan on producing 3 to 4 episodes a year.
El Segundo, California-based Boiling Point Creative Group has just released a new series of posters that re-imagine 70s and 80s sci fi films in a style inspired by art deco.
As part of an impressive portfolio that includes DVD and poster design for major films and TV series such as Breaking Bad, Total Recall, The Smurfs, Hotel Transylvania, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the studio produces designer poster series such as the above mentioned The 70′s and 80′s Sci Fi Collection. This series is made up of six 16 x 24 in. digitally illustrated posters, each printed on high quality matte archival stock.
Also of interest to readers of this blog would be Boiling Point’s previous poster series, The Shogun Warrior Collection, based on the famous line of toys licensed by Mattel during the late 1970s. Good to see they included the Godzilla Shogun Warrior as part of the collection.
Indie stalwart Mark Polonia of the Polonia Bros has just finished major photography on a film that features the mob and a dinosaurian monster. It’s called Meateaters, which probably indicates that we’re not dealing with a herbavore.
There’s something intriguingly appropriate, storywise, about combining crime/noir and giant monster tropes. My favourite of this particular cross-genre chimera is probably Uchu daikaiju Dogora [Space Giant Monster Dogora] (1964; dir. Ishiro Honda) [aka Dagora, the Space Monster (US, 1965)], which also wins on the strangeness stakes as it pits a bunch of petty crims and the cop trying to hunt them down against a gargantuan jellyfish kaiju that drifts among the clouds and sucks up everything beneath it [see Backbrain review].
Basically, these guys:
More recently, the Cran Brothers gave us The Millennium Bug (US-2010; dir. Kenneth Cran). This one does not deal with a criminal gang as such, but with a bunch of inbred, homicidal hillbillys who have their murderous activities curtailed by a huge “bug” that awakens at the start of the new millennium [see this Backbrain article].
And then there’s IDW’s Godzilla graphic novel, Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths:
Detective Makoto Sato is on a quest to bring down the Takahashi crime syndicate. Sato’s efforts earn him a one-way trip to a tropical getaway, courtesy of the Tokyo criminal underworld. The exotic locale? MONSTER ISLAND! Alone and facing death at the hands of both gangsters and goliaths, Sato must use his wits to survive—and enlist the aid of some most unusual friends. Join superstar creators John Layman (Chew) and Alberto Ponticelli (Unknown Soldier) for this unusual and exciting miniseries of monster mayhem!
Back to the matter at hand. Mark Polonia’s Meateaters features an ensemble cast and intersecting stories, set against a noirish crime background — sort of Pulp Fiction meets Carnosaur:
A woman steals money from her mob boss husband hoping to start a new life with her lover… A washed-up former child star and his buddies rob a bank with a police detective hot on their trail… all the while a ferocious monster roams the area!
Directed by Mark Polonia (Feeders, The House That Screamed, Razorteeth, E.V.E. of Destruction, Splatter Beach) and written by John Oak Dalton (Among Us, Peter Rottentail, Razorteeth), Meateaters stars Danielle Donahue (Muckman, Queen Crab), Jeff Kirkendall (The Temptress, Empire of the Apes), Bob Dennis (The House That Screamed, Muckman, Dinosaur Chronicles), James Carolus (The Temptress, Empire of the Apes), Steve Diasparra (Muckman, E.V.E. of Destruction, Queen Crab) [pictured below, facing off monster] and Ken Van Sant (Razorteeth, Muckman, Splatter Beach, Monster Movie).
Above: Steve Diasparra, with attitude
Above: Steve’s about the get chucked in the lake covered in two cups of blood
Above: After the blood and lake shot
The monster is said to bear a family resemblance to the monster in the Polonia Bros’ 2008 flick Monster Movie:
Anyway, check out the newly released trailer and see what you think:
Scandinavian TV and cinema — not to forget literature — have been spreading their goodness around the world for a while now, having produced some of the best work in crime and dark fantasy seen anywhere. TV shows such as The Killing (2007-2012), The Bridge (2011- ), Borgen (2010- ), The Eagle (2004-2006), The Protectors (2008- ) and the several versions of Henning Mankell’s Wallander novels have set high standards for crime and political drama worldwide. Then there are genre films such as Let the Right One In [aka Låt den rätte komma in] (Sweden-2008; dir. Tomas Alfredson) and Trollhunter [aka Trolljegeren] (Norway-2010; dir. André Øvredal), which both made enough of a splash to be granted the dubious honour of a Hollywood makeover.
So what about the zombie apocalypse subgenre? Well, a Danish crew have decided to dive into that particularly bloody pool with the low-budget independent feature Escaping the Dead (Denmark-2014; dir. Martin Sonntag and Bastian Brinch Pedersen).
Clearly it will involve a lot of running. And blood.
Inspired by the incident where Ronald Poppo had his face eaten by a naked man hooked on bathsalt in Miami, combined with a series of articles regarding the so-called deathdrug “Krokodil”, Escaping the Dead features what director Martin Sonntag describes as “the perfect zombie plot”, that is, a deathdrug that turns people into cannibalistic zombies. Sonntag describes it here:
The film has its starting point in a typical day for the lead character, David. David is the local marihuana pusher, but he is the kind of dealer that smokes more than he sells. In the meantime the country has been hit by a new deathdrug and when David and his partner-in-crime Ahmir is offered some exceptionally cheap cocaine they see it as an opportunity to earn big money at the big techno concert the following Friday, but the cocaine turns out to have a terrible side effect that creates a giant zombie outbreak that spreads across the entire Copenhagen. In the film we follow David and his bloody fight out of the city.
Directed by Martin Sonntag and Bastian Brinch Pedersen, Escaping the Dead stars Bastian Brinch Pedersen (who is also the co-director and producer of the film) as David, Rama Øzel as Ahmir, along with Daniel Hutera, Ali Öezkan, Iben Ma Bønnelycke, Nicolai Huan Nguyen, Camilla Ludvigsen and Kim Sønderholm (“Blood Fare”, “The Winedancers”, “Sinister Visions”) playing Lars the policeman.
The above picture shows Bastian Brinch Pedersen and Kim Sønderholm, “exhausted from escaping a horde of zombies and having finally found a safe resting place. Or is it?”
The Dragon Pearl (2011; directed by Mario Andreacchio) is an Australia/China co-production. It has a huge Chinese dragon in it. It also has Aussie stars Sam Neill (who has been in lots of stuff, but I’m going to name In the Mouth of Madness because I like it so much and of course Jurassic Park), Robert Mammone (the 2nd and 3rd Matrix films and many Australian TV series) and Louis Corbett (Charlotte’s Web), as well as Chinese/HK stars Jordan Chan (Young and Dangerous, BioZombie, Vampire Hunter D), Wang Ji and Li Lin Jin. Plus a huge Chinese dragon. Did I mention there is a huge Chinese Dragon?
Chinese dragons are cool. Sure, Smaug’s pretty cool, too, but we’ve seen lots of Western/European dragons over the years. Some that feature dragons are: Die Nibelungen: Siegfried [aka Siegfried] (Germany-1924; dir. Fritz Lang), Ilya Muromets [aka The Sword and the Dragon] (Soviet Union-1956; dir. Aleksandr Ptushko), DragonHeart (US-1996; dir. Rob L. Cohen), Dragonslayer (US-1981; dir. Matthew Robbins), Reign of Fire (Uk/Ireland/US-2002; dir. Rob Bowman), Dragon Fighter (US-2003; dir. Phillip J. Roth), Dragon (US-2006; dir. Leigh Scott), Dragon Storm (US-2004; dir. Stephen Furst), Dragon Hunters [aka Chasseurs de Dragons] (France/Germany/Luxembourg -2008; animation; dir. Guillaume Ivernel and Arthur Qwak), DragonQuest (US-2009; dir. Mark Atkins), Age of the Dragons [aka Dragon Fire] (US-2010; dir. Ryan Little), How To Train Your Dragon (US-2010; animation; dir. Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders), The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (US-2010; dir. Jon Turteltaub), and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (US/NZ-2013; dir. Peter Jackson). Yamato Takeru (1994; dir. Takao Okawara) [aka Orochi, The Eight-Headed Dragon (US, 1999)] and The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (US-2008; dir. Rob Cohen) feature multi-headed dragons.
Chinese dragons, however, are less common. Perhaps that’s because they are traditionally much less aggressive than the European kind. In the past week, I have become aware of two films that feature Chinese dragons: this one and The Monkey King [aka Da nao tian gong] (China/HK/US- 2014; dir. Pou-Soi Cheang) — check out the trailer in the Addendum at the end of this article as well as the picture below.
The Monkey King‘s dragon isn’t looking overly benign, but the dragon in The Dragon Pearl is apparently a bit more placatable.
When teenagers Josh (Louis Corbett) and Ling (Li Lin Jin) join their respective parents, Chris (Sam Neill) and Dr. Li (Wang Ji) on an archaeological dig in China they encounter something trapped beneath a temple beyond their wildest imagination. A real live Chinese dragon.. Two thousand years earlier, to defend his kingdom, the dragon lent an emperor his all powerful pearl. Instead of being returned the pearl was buried with the emperor beneath his palace, and helpless without its source of power the dragon has remained entombed ever since. With the Dragon Pearl buried on the excavation site, Josh and Ling implore their parents for help, but met with disbelief the children realize they must ﬁnd the pearl on their own. However thereʼs one who does believe them: archaeologist Philip Dukas (Robert Mammone), who wants to seize the pearlʼs awesome power for his own sinister ambitions. The only way to stop him is for Josh and Ling to get to it ﬁrst and return it to its rightful owner. (Source: AMPCO Films’ Production Notes via Wikipedia)
The ﬁlm was shot in China at the Hengdian World Studios, said to be the largest studio complex in the world, with over 3 million square metres of built sets. Also other locations in and around Hengdian were used. Post production took place in Adelaide, South Australia. CGI and visual effects were created by two Adelaide-based companies, Rising Sun Pictures and Convergen. (Source: AMPCO Films’ Production Notes via Wikipedia)
The Dragon Pearl received a limited theatrical release, though it premiered on 6 March 2011 at the Adelaide Film Festival. It is now available on DVD.
Remember Peter and the Colossus? This fantasy film from independent director Mitchel Viernes was featured on Undead Backbrain last December. Go and read about it, then come back for more news.
Looks like a decent and heartfelt project, doesn’t it? And it’s nearly finished!
Above and beyond the principal photography that has already been shot and edited, the producers aim to make this film as polished and professional as they can — a task that is always a struggle when you lack a Hollywood studio budget.
In hope of attracting support from the wider fan community, Viernes has opened a Peter and the Colossus Indiegogo campaign, hoping to raise a meagre $2500 to assist him and his crew to complete the mastering of the audio and the intricate sound landscape “that will help bring the film to life and give it a very polished, professional feel”.
“Most of the money will be going to our talented composer,” Viernes explained, “who will be doing the score for the film — he really deserves to be compensated for the amazing work he’s done.” Funds will also go towards getting the film into film festivals worldwide.
So check out the pitch below and then head to the Indiegogo campaign page to toss a few dollars their way. There’s plenty of great incentives, not to mention the possibility of getting your own copy of the film on DVD.
The mythic critter Cyclops, with one eye and optional horn, has turned up a few times in the history of cinema, usually in a cameo role. Though he did take the lead, sans horn, in the not-overly-memorable Cyclops (US-2008; dir. Declan O’Brien) and once gave his name to a mad scientist who shrank people in Dr. Cyclops (US-1940; dir. Ernest B. Schoedsack), he was most notably brought to life by animation giant Ray Harryhausen in the classic The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (US-1958; dir. Nathan Juran):
However, it doesn’t end there. An unusual, virtually unknown cyclops also appears in the typically weird Hindi film Tarzan Aur Jadui Chirag [aka Tarzan and the Wonderful Lamp] (India-1966; dir. Baboobhai Bhanji), perhaps inspired by Harryhausen’s efforts, though hairier and given an Indian ambiance. Note the three people — presumably the protagonists — who calmly sit there watching as the cyclops rampages, as though they’re referees ready to assign points…