Atlantic Rim (US-2013; dir. Jared Cohn) is the notorious mockbuster studio The Asylum’s pre-hash of Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming blockbuster, Pacific Rim. It has giant monsters rising from the depths (albeit different depths), giant mecha, a human combat team and a comparatively minimal budget with which to at least partially suggest some of the original’s spectacle.
Giant monsters rise from the depths (or are they aliens from outer space?). Humans build giant mecha with which to defend themselves. A crack team of pilots is assembled, including one contentious, but highly proficient, member. Can he get his shit together in time? Will the individual pilots ever work together as a team? Will there be enough of a budget for there to be more than a few token appearances of the monster(s)? Will the Asylum be sued?
Some of the questions asked in the synopsis above are answered in the screenshots provided in this article, including this one:
For its relatively low budget, Cohn seems to have managed some decent-looking scenes here. Not Del Toro standard, of course, but enough to pique my interest. Of course the rest of the film’s 87-odd minutes will determine whether or not it will be one of the Asylum’s better efforts — and worth looking at.
The real question is, however: “How do they get away with this stuff?”
Indie production Chicago Rot is described as “A Supernatural Rock ‘n’ Roll Horror Thriller!!” With its somewhat divergent noirish take on an ever-popular revenge scenario, it explores a side of Chicago that goes beyond seedy into a deep, dark place… a place with attitude.
Made by Rot Studios, in association with Dakini Productions and Painted Face Productions and filmed in Chicago, Chicago Rot is directed by Dorian Weinzimmer, from a screenplay by Brant McCrea and Dorian Weinzimmer. It stars Brant McCrea, Shira Barber, Jeremy Vranich and Johnny Colon.
After years of rotting in Joliet, Les, a wrongfully imprisoned street legend known as “The Ghoul”, is released into a mad search through Chicago’s back alleys for the man who slaughtered his mother and robbed him of his soul. Aided by supernatural benefactors, he must delve beneath the city into a modern labyrinth of gutters whose tendrils have grown deep while he was gone.
What unfolds is a desperate tale of brute force tragedy set in the supernatural underworld of Chicago, where heroes are reduced to horror-shows, villains dream of their own demise, and good and evil prove to be antiquated concepts.
“Chicago Rot is the brainchild of Brant McCrea, Dorian Weinzimmer, Jeremy Vranich, Ryan Berena, and Sam Fell. All five were part of the 2009 inaugural graduating class of Flashpoint, the school for digital arts and media studies, which opened downtown in 2007. Rather than following the film student’s stereotypical path straight to Los Angeles or New York, however, they’re committed to proving Chicago can rival its coastal competitors as a hub for successful artists. Only fitting, then, that their first feature-length project should be what Weinzimmer calls ‘a personal love letter to the city — a dark love letter’.”
There’s another cryptid on the loose — and this one is a big, nasty dragon-like reptile, looking to contribute to the ongoing history of giant monsters in cinema. The film has gone through several name-changes (Legendary: The Shocate and Legendary: Tomb of the Dragon), but is now simply called Legendary (UK/China-2013; dir. Eric Styles).
Travis and his team travel to China in search of what isn’t supposed to exist … their mission to capture a cryptid that is wreaking havoc in a remote village where a water pipeline is being built. They need to do this before Harker, the legendary bounty hunter, finds and kills it — and before anyone else falls victim to its rage.
The poster image — a big reptilian eye — irresistibly brings to mind such films as Godzilla (1998) and the Jurassic Park films, as well as the SyFy tradition in giant reptile films. Hopefully it will find a place among the better of these.
The dragon isn’t, however, the only legend involved in the film.
Yes, it stars action-flick hero Dolph Lundgren as the bounty hunter, tidied up after enduring all the explosions and fire-fights of Expendables 2. Also from Expendables 2 is his co-star, Scott Adkins, who plays a cryptozoologist whose aim is to save the monster rather than kill it.
Directed by Eric Styles (pictured below on location with the cast) and written by Andy Briggs (who has written other genre flicks, such as Rise of the Gargoyles, Ghost Town, Dark Relic and the 2012 version of The Philadelphia Experiment), it looks like it could be a decent creature feature and something to help fill the giant-monster gap between Del Toro’s epic Pacific Rim and Gareth Edwards’ much anticipated Godzilla (2014).
Also in the cast are Chinese actress Yi Huang and from the UK Lydia Leonard (Jericho, London Hospital, Casualty 1909 and single-episode roles in other British TV series such as Ashes To Ashes and Spooks).
In the past I’ve expressed a certain ambivalence when it comes to camera-verité style movies (as I like to call them), sometimes referred to as “found footage” — you know, those rampantly kinetic, hand-held exercises in pretend reality that came to the fore in genre flicks following the success of The Blair Witch Project. We’ve had them with ghosts, giant monsters, werewolves, assorted crypto-zoological critters, trolls, aliens, tiny robots and zombies … lots of zombies. Some don’t work for the usual reasons that films don’t work. Others may be effective, but the unplanned frenzy displayed by the camera and a complete failure to achieve the appearance of accidental shooting more by intent than by accident makes them impossible to watch for anyone who suffers from cinematic motion-sickness. Others bypass this problem by actually knowing how to create a cinematic illusion of reality in ways that are tolerable to watch. Rhythm is the key. Nearly all of them suffer from a moment-by-moment bug-hunt plot structure that may be involving, but never succeeds in generating an actual plot. Certainly for them to work, they need not just an interesting scenario but characters the viewer can believe in and care about.
Embedded (US-2013; dir. Michael Bafaro) — a creature feature featuring an unspecified creature — is the latest addition to the sub-genre. It has the potential to slot into the positive end of the camera-verité spectrum, firstly because it seems to have a genuine mystery at its heart, secondly because its news-footage approach offers hope of there being a rhythm to the camera movement that allows the viewer’s suffering optic nerves to adjust, and thirdly because the two awards it has won (as noted on the poster below) are for narrative and cast.
Through the lens of the camera, James Parnell, a seasoned correspondent for NBS news and his cameraman Tom Whittaker, embed themselves into the nine-person posse that sets off into the rugged wilderness terrain of the Rocky Mountains to find a missing child who may become the next victim of what is believed to be a rogue grizzly… and to later discover that some things reach beyond the darkest realms of human nature…
The film’s cast includes Don Knodel (Man Without a Name), Steve Thackray (The Ennead), Jeb Beach (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Jennifer Koenig (Once Upon a Time), Krista Magnusson, Arpad Balogh, and Lori Watt (Watchmen).
Main title notwithstanding, the new indie horror film Demon (US-2013; dir. Rob Walker) is not a version of The Exorcist. It is in fact a cryptozoological horror film based on reports of the Chupacabra — or “Goat Sucker” — filmed in locations throughout Sarasota and Manatee County, Florida, for Ocean Productions. Its alternative title is The Demon:Story of Chupacabra.
Instead of giving the Chupacabra pride of place on the above official poster for Demon, thefilmmakers have decided to emphasise one of the film’s key assets: the beautiful lead Jasmine Waltz, who plays Nicole Diaz — an FBI agent sent to a town in Sarasota to investigate murderous goings-on — but discovers there is a government conspiracy afoot….
As for the lead monster, Chupacabras, a genus of cryptid originally associated with Puerto Rico, are said to look like this much reproduced image:
Not that the monster in Demon necessarily looks like either of these. The trailer below, like the poster, carefully avoids giving anything away in that regard. Moreover, all that blood on the poster seems indicative of the fact that Demon‘s Chupacabra doesn’t just suck the blood of goats.
After being cleared in an internal investigation, FBI special agent Nicole Diaz is reinstated and sent back home to the town of Oro Negro to help solve the bizarre murders of two agents in Sarasota Florida. She’s met with disdain by the local Sheriff, a good old boy who doesn’t believe they are being taken seriously and is insulted that the authorities sent a woman. At first it’s thought the killings are random acts committed by smugglers or drug dealers, until the resident Tribal Ranger realizes the bodies have been drained of blood and suspects it is something more. His beliefs are, however, dismissed. Soon after a mysterious woman and her aide appear during an autopsy and claim responsibility for creating the perfect killing machine: a creature designed specifically for desert warfare to be used by the military. However, it has escaped and they need help reacquiring it. Unsure who to believe, Nicole assembles a team and they set out to capture it, but bizarre events make her second guess who to trust. Nicole must overcome her recurring childhood nightmare of the lost of her brother and the guilt and pain that consumes her every day as she plunges deeper into a government conspiracy in search of a killer. (IMDb)
Demon stars Jasmine Waltz, Michael Placencia, Bill Houskeeper and Joel Wynkoop.
The official trailer gives you some idea as to what we can expect:
Producer Luis Montalvo has recently finished filming a supernatural thriller titled Let Me Out, which is currently in post-production. It too looks like it has great potential. Filmed in Grenelefe Resorts, Florida, this one stars Michael Placencia, Jackie Siegel, Bill Houskeeper and Ana Quintana. It is written and directed by Montalvo.
An entire family is murdered in their home in a tragic and bizarre way. Two years later, a newlywed couple move into the “murder house” and immediately find themselves caught up in a series of paranormal disturbances. But when an alcoholic writer begins an investigation into what happened to his daughter, who disappeared from the house a few years before, he uncovers a shocking secret about this house and about his daughter that no one will ever believe.
It’s about time someone made a cryptozoological creature feature starring a uniquely Aussie monster like the Bunyip — that large critter from Aboriginal mythology who enjoys spending his time splashing about in billabongs (the swampy variety, not the boardshorts).
Well, that’s just what co-directors Miri Stone and Denby Weller and their crew are doing:
When a team-building hike strays into the territory of an unknown Australian predator, this group of tech-savvy, thrill seeking city folk will discover that some legends have teeth…
The production process — made possible by a successful Pozible crowd-sourcing campaign — was thoroughly documented on the movie’s blog and Facebook page. It involves location shoots in various scenic places in New South Wales, perilous rock-climbing, cast wrangling, fear, elation … and even a zombiroo….
Meanwhile, here are some concept/proposal drawings for the Bunyip:
I guess we have to wait for the movie to be released to see the genuine article.
Looking forward to the remake of Robocop? Forget it! The original doesn’t need to be re-made. Try Robocroc instead!
Directed by Arthur Sinclair for UFO International Productions, Robocroc is the next monster crocodile/alligator flick off the ranks, following in a tradition begun (post-Jaws) by the excellent Alligator (US-1980; dir. Lewis Teague). They include Dark Age (Aust-1987; dir. Arch Nicholson), Killer Crocodile [aka Murder Alligator] (Italy-1989; dir. Fabrizio De Angelis), Alligator II: The Mutation (US-1991; dir. Jon Hess), Crocodile Fury (HK-1991; dir. Tomas Tang as Ted Kingsbrook), Lake Placid (Canada/US-1999; dir. Steve Miner) and its increasingly lame sequels, Crocodile [aka Flat Dog] (US-2000; dir. Tobe Hooper), Krocodylus [aka Blood Surf; Crocodile] (US-2000; dir. James D.R. Hickox), Krai Thong [aka The Legend of the Crocodile] (Thailand-2001; dir. Suthat Intaranupakorn), Crocodile 2: Death Swamp (US-2002; dir. Gary Jones), Black Water (Australia-2007; dir. David Nerlich and Andrew Traucki), Croc (US-2007; dir. Stewart Raffil), Primeval (US-2007; dir. Michael Katleman), and Rogue (Aust-2007; dir. Greg Mclean) — not to forget all those films that super-size the concept, such as Dinocroc (US-2004; dir. Kevin O’Neill), Supercroc (US-2007; dir. Scott Harper), Dinocroc vs Supergator (US-2009; dir. Jim Wynorski/Rob Robertson), and Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus (US-2010; dir. Christopher Ray).
Robocroc not only hybridises the concept but provides the monster with technological enhancements.
When a top-secret unmanned spacecraft disintegrates on re-entry, its mysterious military payload crash-lands in the crocodile habitat of a place called Adventure Land, a combination water park, amusement land and world-famous crocodile exhibit. Following its pre-programmed instructions, the payload – a next-generation nanotech-based combat drone – finds a host in the form of the park’s prize twenty-foot Australian Saltwater crocodile, Stella. She is the largest saltwater croc in captivity. Immediately upon infecting its host, the drone payload’s nanobots begin to transform Stella from an organic, living creature into a lethal killing machine with only a single directive: survival! Before Chief Zoo-keeper Tim Duffy and reptile biologist Jane Spencer are able to figure out what’s going on, they find the park taken over by the government team responsible for the secret project. As the crocodile continues to transform, it escapes the crocodile exhibit and enters the water park, running amok, killing dozens of patrons. But that’s just the beginning…
Comparisons can be made with films in the various sub-genres inspired by Jaws. In this tradition, filmmakers mix-and-match the titular monsters, not just monster crocs, but natural hazards such as giant and genetically enhanced sharks, giant snakes and mutant piranha. In most cases, the monstrous creatures find their way into human habitats and create havoc — generally places where there are likely to be bikini-clad models. From the following trailer, Robocroc is no exception.
Robocroc sports an interesting cast, including Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, The Stand mini-series, Beverley Hills 90210, Stargate SG-1, Supernatural, Mansquito, Sand Sharks, Dragon Wasps), Lisa McCallister (Dream Team, Sea of Souls, Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes, The Dark Knight, Sherlock), Steven Hartley (EastEnders, The Bill, Doctors) and Atanas M. Srebrev (Messengers 2: The Scarecrow, Infestation, Wicked Little Things, Spiders 3D, Abominable Snowman, Rage of the Yeti and endless other creature features). Also in attendance is veteran Dee Wallace, most famous for her role in Spielberg’s iconic E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, but also many genre classics such as the original The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, Cujo, Critters, The Frighteners, and much else besides, right through to the present.
Brett Piper has shared with the Backbrain some scenes of giant crab rampage from his latest B-film monster epic, Queen Crab. Created in stop-motion glory, this suggests that monster fans and stop-motion animation aficionados are in for a real treat.