Remember Leon Cowan’s remake of The Beast of Yucca Flats — Return to Yucca Flats: Desert Man-Beast — which David C. Hayes bravely wrote and is producing, and in which he even more bravely plays the titular Man-Beast? No, well, go to this Undead Backbrain article and check it out. Go on! We’ll wait for you.
While we’re waiting, here’s a faux trailer for a 1970s-style B (for Bad) film called Love Tard, created by Hayes. Be warned, however; the B also stands for “Bad Taste”.
Hmmm, sorry about that. Okay, before we return to Return to Yucca Flats: Desert Man-Beast, here’s a warning (again from Hayes). The actor is Kim Sonderholm:
Ah, you’re back. Up to speed now?
Okay, the good (?) news is that Return to Yucca Flats: Desert Man-Beast will be finished filming by the end of the month — and Hayes says that they may have a distributor.
In case you’re wondering what we’re in for, here’s a clip of Hayes as the Man-Beast dancing in the desert.
This upcoming horror film from Tim Gates offers a very promising approach to the animal/human interface. Definitely not your average lycanthrope.
A vast salvage yard lies nestled in the woods, on the edge of a small, Mid-Western town. Owned and operated by a pair of sadistic, murderous brothers, the yard is a place of death and unimaginable horror. A place that hides the darkest of family secrets. When night falls, the salvage yard is watched over not by canines of the four-legged breed but by ‘Dog’, the owners’ younger brother.Warped by years of abuse at the hands of his siblings and horribly deformed by generations of in-breeding, the feral and misshapen boy (more beast than man) prowls his shadowy domain, viciously slaughtering anyone foolish enough to enter after dark.
One day, Lizzie and her friend ‘Pump’ enter the salvage yard and from a distance (within the darkened confines of an abandoned school bus), Dog takes notice. The sight of the young woman causes something to rise from deep within him … a feeling he’s never felt in his entire, tortured existence. These urges drive him into the night, to track the troubled teen and his journey takes him beyond the fences of the salvage yard, to the outside world … with deadly consequences.
Featuring an experienced cast and crew, it seems to offer more than the rather soulless plotting of much recent horror cinema, recognising the narrative power that can be generated by monsters that elicit our sympathy at the same time as they threaten the normalities we cling to.
Dog was an “Official Selection” at 5th Annual Fright Night Film Festival, held in Louisville, KY, on 12-14 August, after premiering at a special showing on 29 May at the Michigan Theatre in Jackson, MI.
Actor John Lennox, who is trained as a fight director, plays the lead character Dog, a role for which he had to lose 30 pounds to get the right look. He commented:
“It was one of the hardest gigs I’ve ever done. A lot of running about, moving about, jumping on people.”(mlive.com)
Creature and other effects for the film were handled by special effects artist Vincent Guastini and his fellow artists in V.G.P. EFFECTS and DESIGN STUDIO. V.G.P.’s credits include Letters From Iwo Jima, Flags Of Our Fathers, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Scary Movie 4, Stephen King’s Thinner, Child’s Play 3, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, Virus, The Last Of The Mohicans, Super Mario Bros: The Movie, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Snoop Dogg’s: Hood of Horror, Driftwood and Unearthed.
Hopefully, the film will be released more widely very soon. Director Timothy Gates has promised to keep us informed.
War of the Worlds: Goliath (US-[in production for 2010]; dir. Joe Pearson) is “a 90-minute, animated, steampunk epic of war, comradeship and courage under fire”, based on H.G. Wells’ iconic Martian invasion novel, War of the Worlds. (See Robot War Espresso for our previous article on it, including lots of artwork.)
The basic scenario?
In 1900, the Earth was attacked by ruthless invaders from the planet Mars. The Martian’s 80 ft tall, heat-ray spewing, Tripod battle machines laid waste to the planet, but the invaders ultimately fell prey to Earth’s tiny bacteria.
Fourteen years later, Man has rebuilt his shattered world, in large part by utilizing captured Martian technology. Equipped with giant, steam-powered Tripod battle machines, the international rapid reaction force, A.R.E.S., is Mankind’s first line of defense against the return of the rapacious Martian invaders. Based in a massive fortress complex at the south end of Manhattan Island, the young warriors of A.R.E.S. train under the leadership of Secretary of War, Theodore Roosevelt, and the grim General Kushnirov.
And return the Martians do. The rematch finds the multinational squad of the A.R.E.S. battle Tripod “Goliath” on the front-lines of a vicious interplanetary offensive when the Martian invaders launch their second invasion using even more advanced alien technology. In the crucible of combat, this young team helming the mighty Goliath will be tested to the limits of their endurance and courage as they fight for Mankind’s very survival under the onslaught of an implacable enemy. (HeavyMetal)
The film’s steampunk aesthetics look great, as does the animation now that we have a chance to see it in a just released trailer. Check it out:
It’s not hard to see the influence of Japanese anime in this — not that that’s a problem. War of the Worlds: Goliath certainly looks to be of the highest quality. In the end, whether the scripting proves to be equally successful will determine where the movie will fit in the pantheon of scifi animation, the upper echelons of which are at present dominated by the Japanese.
Produced by Tripod Entertainment, War of the Worlds: Goliath is being directed by animation veteran Joe Pearson (Epoch Ink Animation), and written by accomplished wordsmith, David Abramowitz (Highlander). Featuring the voice talents of Adrian Paul, Peter Wingfield, Adam Baldwin, Elizabeth Gracen, Jim Byrnes and many others, the movie is being storyboarded and designed by an international team of top artists and designers, and is being animated in a state-of-the art combination of CG and traditional cel animation in Seoul, South Korea. Audio and video post-production including music score, sound design, voice direction, mixing, visual effects and editing will be done by the best studios in Southeast Asia, Imaginex Studios and BaseCamp Films. (HeavyMetal)
Behind the Scenes: can be accessed from this page.
Fast turn-over for an update, I know, but George A. Romero has released a bunch of images from his latest zombie film, Survival of the Dead — a follow-up (rather than a sequel) to his Diary of the Dead (2007). During an interview with Romero in 2008, Romero said to Undead Backbrain, in regards to Diary of the Dead, but in the context of a possible follow-up:
One of my biggest fears about the blogsphere is that I don’t think it works to widen people’s understanding or bring people together. People only seek out the opinions of those they already agree with. It creates tribes. There’s no discourse.
The idea of divided communities or tribes now appears to inform this most recent of his zombie films in a direct way, having grown out of earlier films, in which human inability to work together effectively drives the characters’ ultimate fate — not to mention the “enclave” mentality that proves so destructive in Land of the Dead. Commenting on the new film’s central idea, Romero said:
“It’s this whole idea of tribalism – that we can’t pull it together. News reports about the presidential race still bring up religious topics or racism. That’s pretty much the central theme. There are two factions. It’s the idea that even when faced with a crisis, tribal concerns about power control people’s motives. One side wants to kill off zombified loved ones before cannibalistic urges strike. The other would rather wait to see if there is a cure for such cravings. They want to leave Grandma in the rocking chair for a while longer. It’s not a good idea.”
As regards the title, he added:
By the end, something happens that makes the word “survival” take on a whole new meaning. I’m not going to give it away now.
All up I’m feeling rather positive about this film. My impression is that Romero’s metaphorical approach to the living dead has once again undergone a mutation — the sort of rejigging that has kept him ahead of the game over several decades (whatever naysayers reckon) and which make his zombie films trendsetters in the genre. If each of the Living Dead films defines for Romero the tenor of the times in which it is made, then clearly Romero perceives today’s world to be stricken with tribalism — idealogical divisions that will ultimately threaten our survival.
Parasitic (US-2009; short [14 min.]; dir. C.J. Arellano & Josh Alletto)
In Parasitic, a talking tapeworm forms in the stomach of a lonely, snobby high school boy.
With a scenario in the tradition of Frank Henenlotter’s 1988 sentient parasite film, Brain Damage — and a few moments that echo the famous “birth” from Alien — Parasitic looks like a lot of fun.
If the short film has a youthful air about it, it’s not surprising really — though the professionalism on display seems quite remarkable. Comments co-director C.J. Arellano:
The age range of the cast and crew who worked on Parasitic ranged from 17-22. I was 20 when we produced the film in Chicago in 2007; my co-director and star of the film, Josh Alletto, was 22. I was 18 when I wrote it in 2005. (Whew, it’s been a long journey!) … We will definitely be selling it on DVD and/or posting it online in November. In the meantime, we hope that it will be screening at festivals between September and November.
As an addendum to the recent Undead Backbrain article about Van Gölü Canavarı [aka Lake Van Monster] (Turkey-2009; dir. Bünyamin Yaşar), which is currently in production, here are a number of videos on the subject.
News Report: This one appears to be a news report from Turkish TV on the film’s production. It includes an interview with the director and some behind-the-scenes footage. Sorry, but I can’t translate.
Documentary on the Lake Van Monster: Animal X (Part 1):
Documentary on the Lake Van Monster: Animal X (Part 2):
Footage of Supposed Lake Van Monster Taken in 1997:
In 1997, a local man, Ünal Kozak, a member of Van University, said he had captured the creature on video and sent the film in for analysis. He has also written a book about the monster. Kozak’s video is under constant criticism, with viewers questioning why it never pans left, saying perhaps there was a boat carrying the “creature,” or asking why the monster only goes straight, instead of curving through the water. Some have even criticized why the creature’s breathing seems to be not in and out, but a continuous release, much like the effects of an air hose. (Hurriyet Daily News)
Other Footage: I’m not sure what this is but the text indicates some connection with the Lake Van Monster.
Now in production is a lake monster movie about a lake other than Loch Ness or Lake Champlain. While these latter are well-known domiciles of megafauna of a vaguely prehistoric nature, it is less well-known that Lake Van (aka Van Gölü) in eastern Turkey — a large, rather voluminous enclosed lake — has been the site of over 1000 reported sightings of a similar monster since 1995. (See the website Searching for Cryptonia, for more details and some interestingly left-field speculation. This is the blog of Doug Ormsham, who corresponded with me over an extended period concerning his great-grandfather Hugo Drakenswode, who was apparently a cryptozoologist and monster hunter.)
The Lake Van Monster has, of course, become quite a tourist attraction. Now Bünyamin Yaşar is directing a film called Van Gölü Canavarı (Lake Van Monster), to be released later this year.
Shooting at the lake
Director Bünyamin Yaşar with cast and crew
The Lake Van monster has never featured in a film before, despite its tourist appeal, and The Backbrain wondered if it was destined to be in this one, given that the plot apparently concerns three disgruntled shepherds who concoct a scheme to make money by showing fake footage of the monster.
However, the director has expanded on the plot:
“Three shepherds, who were dismissed from their town, come up with an idea while swimming in the lake that will fool the people of the town: They make a mock-up of a monster and film it,” he said. “Then they make the people watch it in return for money and make very good money. But, at the end of the film, the shepherds see the real monster in the lake.”
“The film will leave a question mark in people’s minds,” added Yaşar, who said there would be elements of comedy and romance, as well as action scenes, in the film, which stars Levent Aras, Nazif Çetin and Didem Ellialtı.
The lake is a picturesque one, quite extensive and sporting many features reminiscent of Loch Ness — not least of which is the fact that it has a castle overlooking it, just like Urquhart Castle on the Loch.
Van Castle on the southern shore of Lake Van
Urquhart Castle on the southern shore of Loch Ness, Scotland
The monster has become so famous locally that statues have been built to it at various centres around the lake — though they offer vastly different views of the beast.
At any rate, it will be fascinating to see how the film develops. See here for further details about the lake monster and his film.
Gallery of Images, including more of the production:
Jeffrey Lau’s robotic love story, Metallic Attraction: Kung Fu Cyborg, is soon to be released in China. Begun as an oriental answer to the success of Michael Bay’s Transformers, it in fact appears to share only some moments of transformational CGI hustle, while exploring the line between biological humanity and artificial life, which may be crossed by love.
Lau is renown for his ability to mix profound metaphysical and philosophical issues with the most bizarrely comedic strain of Chinese filmmaking — which gets pretty bizarre. At any rate, this film’s mix of giant robots, cyborgs, exaggerated comedy, full-on CGI action and sci-fi kung fu, all in a context that questions issues of identity and the nature of life — promises to be unique at the very least. After all, this is a film that can be promoted with a wide divergence of posters that range from the giant robot threat of the one at the beginning of this article to the comedy, romance and action-hero imagery of those following:
You can see more posters in the Gallery at the end of this article and here.
God created Man in his own image; Man creates robot in his own image. Just as man doubts God, does robot not doubt man?
In 2046, technological advancements keep improving human lives, as well as renewing their desires. So, robots, created to serve man, are born. The first generation AI android, K-1 (Alex Fong), has just been invented secretly at Tian An Science Lab, with the aim of carrying out dangerous tasks for the police, to safeguard the human law enforcers against injuries and deaths. To test its functionality, commissioner Lin Xiang stations him at a remote town for on job training, putting him under the charge of the local sheriff Xu Da Chun (Hu Jun), with his actual identity a closely guarded secret.
K-1 joins the police force under the assumed name De Ming, immediately cracking various cases effortlessly. With perfect socialising routines, De Ming becomes idolised by the townsfolk in no time, while female cop Su Mei (Sun Li) falls head over heels for him.
De Ming and Xu Da Chun are assigned to apprehend a runaway robot K-88 (Wu Jing), which is suspected to have errant AI. After a mind-blowing hi-tech battle involving aerial, underground chases and exchanges, as well as 72 transformations, the invincible K-88 explains his reason for escaping, “For freedom, not wanting to be a mere robot forever.” He even admonishes De Ming for being an electronic slave.
Meanwhile, assassination robots, under order to terminate any defectors, are arriving in the town…
So far a number of trailers for Metallic Attraction: Kung Fu Cyborg have appeared, each emphasising different aspects of the production (drama, sci-fi, comedy…). The latest gives a good idea of the eccentric CGI spectacle we can expect to see.
And then there’s the giant robots, which seem to be based on an aesthetic taken from ancient Chinese art and lore:
You can check out conceptual art for the various robots included in the film (such as those above) in the Gallery below.