Tag Archive | "james cameron"

First Trailer Released For Robert Rodriguez’s Visually Stunning ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Film

First Trailer Released For Robert Rodriguez’s Visually Stunning ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Film

20th Century Fox has debuted the official, action-packed trailer for ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL from visionary filmmakers James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez starring Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and Keean Johnson! Check out the kickass first look at the film below!

ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL will be in theaters everywhere on July 20, 2018 in 3D & IMAX!

Synopsis: Visionary filmmakers James Cameron (AVATAR) and Robert Rodriguez (SIN CITY) create a groundbreaking new heroine in ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL, an action-packed story of hope, love and empowerment. Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita (Rosa Salazar) is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. Everything is new to Alita, every experience a first. As she learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield Alita from her mysterious past while her street-smart new friend, Hugo (Keean Johnson), offers instead to help trigger her memories. A growing affection develops between the two until deadly forces come after Alita and threaten her newfound relationships. It is then that Alita discovers she has extraordinary fighting abilities that could be used to save the friends and family she’s grown to love. Determined to uncover the truth behind her origin, Alita sets out on a journey that will lead her to take on the injustices of this dark, corrupt world, and discover that one young woman can change the world in which she lives.

ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL Official Channels
OFFICIAL WEBSITEAlitaBattleAngel.com

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Blu-ray Review: Arrow Films’ “Ray Harryhausen Special Effects Titan”

Blu-ray Review: Arrow Films’ “Ray Harryhausen Special Effects Titan”


This ridiculous heat wave encompassing the area kept Steve Johnson inside surrounded by ice cold beer and a truckload of Arrow Films releases. This time around he takes a look at “Ray Harryhausen Special Effects Titan.” Featuring interviews with the man himself and those he influenced, this career spanning documentary is not one to miss.

Here’s a quick synopsis before we engross ourselves in the life of a legend.

The remarkable career of the movie industry’s most admired and influential special-effects auteur, the legendary Ray Harryhausen, is the subject of “Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan.” Leaving no doubt as to Harryhausen’s seminal influence on modern-day special effects, the documentary features enlightening and entertaining interviews with the man himself, Randy Cook, Peter Jackson, Nick Park, Phil Tippet, Terry Gilliam, Dennis Muren, John Landis, Guillermo Del Toro, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and many more. These filmmakers pay tribute to the father of Stop Motion animation and films such as “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms,” “It Came From Beneath The Sea,” “The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad,” “Mysterious Island,” “Jason And The Argonauts” and “The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad” – the films that enthralled them as children and inspired them to become filmmakers. These are the wonders of a world without words, viewed through man and nature’s own prisms of symmetry, savagery, chaos and harmony.

REVIEW: By a show of hands, who hasn’t heard of Ray Harryhausen? If you raised your hand and love science fiction or horror films, do yourself a favor and learn about the man. I was going to say slap yourself in the face, but I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. Anyway … Harryhausen is one of the most influential people to work in the motion picture business. The place to start with your education should be this documentary, “Ray Harryhausen Special Effects Titan.” After finishing, watch all of his films. Hell, do it vice versa, I don’t care. Just do it. You will not be disappointed. By the end of your marathon viewing of the documentary and his films, you will recognize his influence on some of today’s greatest directors and special effects artists.

“Ray Harryhausen Special Effect Titan” covers the entire span of Harryhausen’s career and features a bevy of behind the scenes footage and in depth interviews with the man himself. Harryhausen pulls back the curtain on the majority of his films and explains how he achieved the wonders he put to screen. Viewers are also treated to personal stories of his influence from a variety of high profile directors and special effects wizards including Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, John Landis and Rick Baker. Those are a few of the huge names who profess their love to Harryhausen throughout the documentary. I have always been aware of Harryhausen’s role in shaping cinema, but I didn’t realize how much he influenced some of my favorites in the business until I saw side-by-side comparisons. The directors and special effects artists featured in the film borrowed heavily from Harryhausen. We cinephiles owe a lot to Harryhausen. God knows what cinema would look like without his influence.


Arrow continues delivering the goods with the special features on this disc. First up, the viewer is treated to an audio commentary featuring the makers of the film. I enjoyed it quite a bit and would suggest checking it out. Following up the audio commentary is a feature entitled “Treasure Trove,” where original Harryhausen models were unboxed and filmed. What I would give to have one of the originals up on the bookshelf! Next up are interviews and outtakes with the directors and special effects artists featured in the film. Hearing these giants of cinema turned into fanboys was cool to witness. Harryhausen meant the world to these artists and it shows. The most heartfelt moment on the disc is a feature entitled “A Message to Ray.” In it, Ray Bradbury, Ken Ralston, Randall William Cook, Guillermo del Toro, James Cameron and Vanessa Harryhausen each send their love and admiration to Harryhausen. While it is short, this is the best feature on the disc and may be one of the best features I have ever seen. A couple of Q&A’s are also included featuring the makers of the film and Harryhausen himself. Rounding out the special features are deleted scenes, the original trailer and a Ray Harryhausen trailer reel.

If you are a fan of sci-fi or horror you need to pick this up. Do not hesitate. Go now. Ray Harryhausen’s influence on today’s greatest filmmakers and special effects artists cannot be denied. I consider Harryhausen nothing short of a genius and he deserves all of the praise given to him in this documentary. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Ray. I am glad you had an opportunity to shine.

About The Writer
Steve Johnson, affectionately known as “The Harmony Bad Boy,” is one of the original staff writers for Icon Vs. Icon. When he’s not doing manly things, grilling encased meats, or downing copious amounts of craft beer, Steve spends his time exploring the world of horror. His obsession with the genre began by seeing ‘The Evil Dead’ and ‘An American Werewolf in London’ at an inappropriate age. Thanks mom and dad; you created this monster.
Twitter: @dastomper

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‘Titanic’ Actress Gloria Stuart Passes Away At 100

‘Titanic’ Actress Gloria Stuart Passes Away At 100

Gloria Stuart

Gloria Stuart, a 1930s Hollywood leading lady who earned an Academy Award nomination for her first significant role in nearly 60 years — as Old Rose, the centenarian survivor of the Titanic in James Cameron’s 1997 Oscar-winning film — has died. She was 100.

Stuart, a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild who later became an accomplished painter and fine printer, died Sunday night at her West Los Angeles home, said her daughter, writer Sylvia Thompson.

Her career in Hollywood began in the 1930s, when she was under contract with Universal and 20th Century Fox and starred in films like “The Invisible Man” with Claude Rains, “Here Comes the Navy” opposite James Cagney and two Shirley Temple films. She appeared in 42 features before 1939, when her studio contract was not renewed. She struggled to find work and retired from film in 1946.

Cameron resurrected Stuart’s career in 1997, when he cast her as Rose Calvert, the older version of Kate Winslet’s character in “Titanic.” At 87, Stuart became the oldest actress ever nominated for an Academy Award for her role in James Cameron’s ‘Titanic.’

Stuart had been diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago. In July the actress was honored at an “Academy Centennial Celebration With Gloria Stuart” at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

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ALIEN ANTHOLOGY: The Ultimate Collection Spawns On October 25th!

ALIEN ANTHOLOGY: The Ultimate Collection Spawns On October 25th!

Sometimes, the scariest things come from within. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents one of the most successful and terrifying film franchises of all time when the ALIEN ANTHOLOGY debuts on Blu-ray for the first time ever on October 25.

All four ALIEN films have been reinvigorated for an intense Blu-ray high-definition viewing experience. The release also marks the debut of MU-TH-UR Mode, a fully interactive companion that takes the extensive materials in the ALIEN ANTHOLOGY and puts them in the user’s hand – connecting fans to special features on all six discs and instantly providing an index of all available ALIEN content, including over 60 hours of special features and over 12,000 images. ALIEN ANTHOLOGY will also be available in a Limited Edition Collector’s Set featuring ‘The Guardian’ – an exclusive illuminated egg statue sculpted by Sideshow Collectibles®.

The ALIEN ANTHOLOGY is a truly unique home entertainment experience. For the first time ever, the studio has united the material from every home video release of the ALIEN saga including the 1991/1992 laserdisc releases, the 1999 “Legacy” release and 2003’s groundbreaking ALIEN QUADRILOGY release into one complete Blu-ray collection. The set also includes two versions of each film and over four hours of previously unreleased exclusive material such as original screen tests of Sigourney Weaver prior to filming the original ALIEN, unseen deleted scenes, thousands of still photographs from the Fox archives, the previously unseen original cut of “Wreckage and Rage: The Making of ALIEN3,” and much, much more.

The ALIEN ANTHOLOGY is just one aspect of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment’s yearlong campaign to honor the studio’s 75th birthday. This year the division will debut several select fan-favorites on Blu-ray for the first time ever including The Rocky Horror Picture Show, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge! and The Sound of Music.


* 1979 Theatrical Version
* 2003 Director’s Cut with Ridley Scott Introduction
* Audio Commentary by Director Ridley Scott, Writer Dan O’Bannon, Executive Producer Ronald Shusett, Editor Terry Rawlings, Actors Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton and John Hurt
* Audio Commentary (for Theatrical Cut only) by Ridley Scott
* Final Theatrical Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith
* Composer’s Original Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith
* Deleted and Extended Scenes
* MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream


* 1986 Theatrical Version
* 1991 Special Edition with James Cameron Introduction
* Audio Commentary by Director James Cameron, Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Alien Effects Creator Stan Winston, Visual Effects Supervisors Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, Miniature Effects Supervisor Pat McClung, Actors Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn and Christopher Henn
* Final Theatrical Isolated Score by James Horner
* Composer’s Original Isolated Score by James Horner
* Deleted and Extended Scenes
* MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream


* 1992 Theatrical Version
* 2003 Special Edition (Restored Workprint Version)
* Audio Commentary by Cinematographer Alex Thomson, B.S.C., Editor Terry Rawlings, Alien Effects Designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., Visual Effects Producer Richard Edlund, A.S.C., Actors Paul McGann and Lance Henriksen
* Final Theatrical Isolated Score by Elliot Goldenthal
* Deleted and Extended Scenes
* MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream


* 1997 Theatrical Version
* 2003 Special Edition with Jean-Pierre Jeunet Introduction
* Audio Commentary by Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Editor Hervé Schneid, A.C.E., Alien Effects Creators Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., Visual Effects Supervisor Pitof, Conceptual Artist Sylvain Despretz, Actors Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon and Leland Orser
* Final Theatrical Isolated Score by John Frizzell
* Deleted and Extended Scenes
* MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream


In addition to over 12 hours of candid, in-depth documentaries, you now have the ability to go even deeper into Alien Anthology history with nearly five hours of additional video Enhancement Pods created exclusively for this collection, presenting behind-the-scenes footage, raw dailies and interview outtakes from all four films. At topical points in the documentaries, you may access these pods to enhance your experience, or watch them on their own from the separate Enhancement Pod index.

The Beast Within: Making ALIEN

o The Visualists: Direction and Design
o Truckers in Space: Casting
o Fear of the Unknown: Shepperton Studios, 1978
o The Darkest Reaches: Nostromo and Alien Planet
o The Eighth Passenger: Creature Design
o Future Tense: Editing and Music
o Outward Bound: Visual Effects
o A Nightmare Fulfilled: Reaction to the Film
* Enhancement Pods

Superior Firepower: Making ALIENS

o 57 Years Later: Continuing the Story
o Building Better Worlds: From Concept to Construction
o Preparing for Battle: Casting and Characterization
o This Time It’s War: Pinewood Studios, 1985
o The Risk Always Lives: Weapons and Action
o Bug Hunt: Creature Design
o Beauty and the Bitch: Power Loader vs. Queen Alien
o Two Orphans: Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn
o The Final Countdown: Music, Editing and Sound
o The Power of Real Tech: Visual Effects
o Aliens Unleashed: Reaction to the Film

* Enhancement Pods

Wreckage and Rage: Making ALIEN3

o Development Hell: Concluding the Story
o Tales of the Wooden Planet: Vincent Ward’s Vision
o Stasis Interrupted: David Fincher’s Vision
o Xeno-Erotic: H.R. Giger’s Redesign
o The Color of Blood: Pinewood Studios, 1991
o Adaptive Organism: Creature Design
o The Downward Spiral: Creative Differences
o Where the Sun Burns Cold: Fox Studios, L.A. 1992
o Optical Fury: Visual Effects
o Requiem for a Scream: Music, Editing and Sound
o Post-Mortem: Reaction to the Film

* Enhancement Pods

One Step Beyond: Making ALIEN RESURRECTION

o From the Ashes: Reviving the Story
o French Twist: Direction and Design
o Under the Skin: Casting and Characterization
o Death from Below: Fox Studios, Los Angeles, 1996
o In the Zone: The Basketball Scene
o Unnatural Mutation: Creature Design
o Genetic Composition: Music
o Virtual Aliens: Computer Generated Imagery
o A Matter of Scale: Miniature Photography
o Critical Juncture: Reaction to the Film

* Enhancement Pods

* MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience to Access and Control Enhancement Pods



* Pre-Production
o First Draft Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon
o Ridleygrams: Original Thumbnails and Notes
o Storyboard Archive
o The Art of Alien: Conceptual Art Portfolio
o Sigourney Weaver Screen Tests with Select Director Commentary
o Cast Portrait Gallery
* Production
o The Chestbuster: Multi-Angle Sequence with Commentary
o Video Graphics Gallery
o Production Image Galleries
o Continuity Polaroids
o The Sets of Alien
o H.R. Giger’s Workshop Gallery
* Pre-Production and Aftermath
o Additional Deleted Scenes
o Image & Poster Galleries
* Experience in Terror
* Special Collector’s Edition LaserDisc Archive
* The Alien Legacy
* American Cinematheque: Ridley Scott Q&A
* Trailers & TV Spots


* Pre-Production
o Original Treatment by James Cameron
o Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Videomatics with Commentary
o Storyboard Archive
o The Art of Aliens: Image Galleries
o Cast Portrait Gallery
* Production
o Production Image Galleries
o Continuity Polaroids
o Weapons and Vehicles
o Stan Winston’s Workshop
o Colonial Marine Helmet Cameras
o Video Graphics Gallery
o Weyland-Yutani Inquest: Nostromo Dossiers
* Pre-Production and Aftermath
o Deleted Scene: Burke Cocooned
o Deleted Scene Montage
o Image Galleries
o Special Collector’s Edition LaserDisc Archive
o Main Title Exploration
o Aliens: Ride at the Speed of Fright
o Trailers & TV Spots


* Pre-Production
o Storyboard Archive
o The Art of Arceon
o The Art of Fiorina
* Production
o Furnace Construction: Time-Lapse Sequence
o EEV Bioscan: Multi-Angle Vignette with Commentary
o Production Image Galleries
o A.D.I.’s Workshop
* Pre-Production and Aftermath
o Visual Effects Gallery
o Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive
* Alien3 Advance Featurette
* The Making of Alien3 Promotional Featurette
* Trailers & TV Spots


* Pre-Production
o First Draft Screenplay by Joss Whedon
o Test Footage: A.D.I. Creature Shop with Commentary
o Test Footage: Costumes, Hair and Makeup
o Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Rehearsals
o Storyboard Archive
o The Marc Caro Portfolio: Character Designs
o The Art of Resurrection: Image Galleries
* Production
o Production Image Galleries
o A.D.I.’s Workshop
* Pre-Production and Aftermath
o Visual Effects Gallery
o Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive
* HBO First Look: The Making of Alien Resurrection
* Alien Resurrection Promotional Featurette
* Trailers & TV Spots


* Two Versions of Alien Evolution
* The Alien Saga
* Patches and Logos Gallery
* Aliens 3D Attraction Scripts and Gallery
* Aliens in the Basement: The Bob Burns Collection
* Parodies
* Dark Horse Cover Gallery
* Patches and Logos Gallery
* MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience

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James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ – “Thanador Chase” Clip Debuts

James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ – “Thanador Chase” Clip Debuts

avatar-character-5A brand new clip from James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ has hit the web. The clip features Sam Worthington’s character, Jake Sully, in Avatar form, trying to escape from a Thanador, one of the violent creatures of Pandora. Check out the heaping helping of action below!

The film is slated to hit theaters on December 18th, 2009 and co-stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, and Michelle Rodriguez. Avatar is marks Cameron’s first directorial work since his Oscar winning film, Titanic, back in 1997.

The film takes place on Pandorum, a strange and beautiful planet with bizarre creatures and plant life. Sam Worthington plays a paraplegic who is linked through a medical process to an “avatar,” a 10-foot-tall, blue-skinned creature that looks like Pandorum’s native Na’vi. Cameron conceived Avatar 14 years ago and filmed it in stereoscopic 3-D using cameras developed by him.

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‘Avatar’ Director James Cameron Profiled On ’60 Minutes’ – Video Available

‘Avatar’ Director James Cameron Profiled On ’60 Minutes’ – Video Available

avatar_character_photo_NeytiriCBS’ 60 Minutes recently aired a 13-minute segment on Avatar director James Cameron. You can watch the entire segment below. The segment contains behind the scenes making of footage, a small tour of Cameron’s office and more.

The film is slated to hit theaters on December 18th, 2009 and co-stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, and Michelle Rodriguez. Avatar is marks Cameron’s first directorial work since his Oscar winning film, Titanic, back in 1997.

The film takes place on Pandora, a strange and beautiful planet with bizarre creatures and plant life. Sam Worthington plays a paraplegic who is linked through a medical process to an “avatar,” a 10-foot-tall, blue-skinned creature that looks like Pandora’s native Na’vi.

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James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ – The Official Site Launched, New Trailer Unleashed!

James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ – The Official Site Launched, New Trailer Unleashed!


The official website for James Cameron’s upcoming 3-D epic, Avatar, has been launched! Swing by www.avatarmovie.com to check it out! The site is loaded with wallpapers, new images and a bunch of other great information about the film.

As if that wasn’t enough to get you interested, a brand new trailer has also been released and you can check that out below!

The film is slated to hit theaters on December 18th, 2009 and co-stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, and Michelle Rodriguez. Avatar is marks Cameron’s first directorial work since his Oscar winning film, Titanic, back in 1997.

The official website for the film can be found at www.avatarmovie.com.

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Director Michael Dougherty Talks ‘Trick ‘R Treat’ And Much More!

Director Michael Dougherty Talks ‘Trick ‘R Treat’ And Much More!


Michael Dougherty exploded onto Tinseltown’s radar with his work on the screenplay for ‘X2’. A few years later he found himself writing for Superman’s triumphant return to the big screen. While his success as a screenwriter has been nothing short of phenomenal, Michael has managed to pull a new ace from under his sleeve.  What is the ace you ask? Well…, he somehow managed to put his pen down for a bit and directed one of the best Halloween films of the past three decades. ‘Trick ‘r Treat’ has been an instant hit with critics and fans alike, and is now challenging the throne of John Carpenter’s classic ‘Halloween’.  Guided by the advice of his good friend Stan Winston, Michael Dougherty shows no signs of slowing down and is hell bent on pumping original content into the industry he loves so much. Steve Johnson of Icon vs. Icon recently caught up with Michael to discuss his past, his career as a screenwriter, the state of modern horror, and everything ‘Trick ‘r Treat’.

michael_dougherty-4Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Columbus, Ohio.

When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?

Well… I don’t think I really knew until probably high school. My Aunt tells me a story of when I was four. She asked what did I want to do when I grew up. I said dig up dinosaurs or make movies. So, apparently I knew back then. [laughs] The dinosaurs thing I put on hold, but I still intend on doing that at some point. [laughs]

Did you have any influences, be it other directors or otherwise?

Yeah! Tons! It’s a pretty long list. I was a child of the eighties. I really feel like that was a decade when all of the big franchises, which we are now sequelizing and remaking, established themselves. That was the birth of the franchise movie. We had ‘Indiana Jones’. We got our first ‘Star Wars’ sequel in ’81. All of the horror movies included. ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, ‘Friday the 13th’, ‘Poltergeist’. That’s where it all really started. ‘Predator’, ‘Aliens’. It just goes on and on. Take the directors of those movies and that was a pretty potent inspiration growing up. ‘Evil Dead’! So it’s the Cameron, Lucas, Speilberg, Zemekis era. Sam Raimi of course!

You are a director, writer, editor, and producer. Is there one aspect of film making that you prefer over the others?

Writing and directing. It’s fun to really create something from the ground up, create something that’s yours. When you just screen write, it’s less work, but there is the anxiety of you having less control over how it’s going to turn out. If you’re writing and directing, you obviously get a lot more control. It’s not like you have to hand over your baby to somebody else and hope that it turns out well. It’s all on your shoulders. There’s more stress, but I think there’s also more reward.

You have done a small bit of acting in your career. Is that something you would like to pursue further?

Acting! Those are little cameos. No, I don’t think I would be very good on the other side of the camera. I’d much rather prefer to work behind the camera.

What is the typical screenwriting process like for you?

It’s never typical and it’s never easy. It’s the type of thing where there’s a lot of inspiration followed by procrastination and frustration. I have to be very disciplined. I have to isolate myself and remove all distractions, otherwise not much gets done. It’s different every single time. Then of course the revisions come, which is probably the hardest part. It’s kind of like building a house of cards. Pluck the wrong card or tinker with it too much and the whole thing comes tumbling down. I find that the longer you have to actually write something and let it marinate… I like to finish a draft, finish something, and just let it sit there and not even think about it, go do something else for weeks and come back to it. It’s different every single time.

You wrote for ‘Superman Returns’ and ‘X2’. What were those experiences like for you and were you a fan of the comics prior to participating in those films?

Yeah. I was and still am a big geek. I was the kid in the back of the room who didn’t really talk much and just drew pictures. Then I went home and watched movies and read comic books all night and all weekend. So, I think it paid off! Those movies were very different experiences from each other. They were fantastic learning experiences. I had the rare opportunity to be on set throughout both of those films, which is something that a lot of screen writers don’t get to experience. A lot of writers will email a script into the studio and the studio says, “Thanks! We’ll take it from here!” Then the writer is lucky if they get to show up at a premiere. I got to be involved from the ground up and through post-production on those movies. They really helped train me for directing Trick ‘r Treat.

michael_dougherty-5Comic books have a lot of back story and plot points. Were there any challenges to writing the screenplays for those films?

It’s a double edged sword. On one hand you don’t have to come up with your own characters. There’s a mythology already there for you. The downside of that is that you’re not creating as much originality. You are almost beholden to the way the characters were written from their comic book pages. People have expectations and everyone has their own interpretation as to what a character should look like, or sound like, or behave. So that was a challenge. The biggest challenge to adapting a pre-existing title like ‘X-Men’ or ‘Superman’ is bringing your own thing to the table, but also trying to make millions of fans happy who have had these characters in their heart for years.

If asked, would you return to films based off of comics in the future?

I wouldn’t say no to it. I take everything into consideration, but at the same time I do enjoy working on original films, original ideas. Again, ‘X-Men’ and ‘Superman’ were great training grounds, but I am actively trying to do as many original projects as possible. As much as an uphill battle as that might be right now. We’re caught up in this age of everything being a sequel, a remake, or a remake [laughs] or a reboot. I kind of want to go against the grain and try as hard as I can to get some original stuff going. I do think that there’s an appetite for it out there that’s growing.

Remaking classic movies is the current rage in Hollywood. As a writer and director what are your feelings on this latest trend?

The thing is, I am not against remakes as a rule because some of my favorite things out there have been remakes. I am an absolute nut for the ‘Battlestar Gallactica’ remake TV series that was on for the past four years. It’s a fantastic show and I think it’s an example of a good remake. They took something that had a great concept and an execution that worked for its time, but needed an updating. The creators did it with love and passion and brought something new to the table. They brought their own ideas. They made it more relevant to today. If you look at ‘The Thing’. If you look at ‘The Fly’. Those are other examples of fantastic remakes. My biggest concern is that it shouldn’t be the only option out there and every day someone else is announcing another remake or a reboot. I genuinely think it’s getting out of hand. There used to be an era where we mostly had original films and the occasional remake. I think that’s what it should be versus mostly remakes and then the occasional original film. [laughs]

Have you always been a fan of horror films and do you have a favorite?

Yes, since I was a kid. Again, I grew up in the eighties and at the time cable television was just getting started. All of the cable networks were filling the airwaves with stuff pulled from libraries. Old TV shows and movies. So I grew up watching all of the same black and white and cheesy monster movies my dad did when he grew up. I just had a much quicker, concentrated dose of it. ‘Godzilla’, Universal monsters. All of those things were a huge influence growing up. ‘The Twilight Zone’ for example. That genre, horror/sci-fi, has been my absolute favorite. Anything involving monsters just makes me really, really happy. So it’s been a huge favorite. The all time favorite, honestly, is ‘Aliens’. I can’t get enough of that movie. It’s on my iPhone. It’s like a good album. I’ll just put it on in the background while I work.

You sound like me. I have a few movies like that. You just put them on in the background and go.

Yeah! There’s a rythm to them! You can quote them! You can turn down the volume and you can recite every line. ‘Aliens’, for that, has been mine for years.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the horror genre?

Well this has actually been a pretty great year for horror. I think Halloween is the perfect time to look back at the state of horror. We had ‘Paranormal Activity’. We had ‘Zombieland’. I actually thought ‘Orphan’ was pretty underrated. We still had our fair share of remakes, but at the same time if you looked harder into independent horror there was a lot of stuff out there. We still are drowning in a lot of unoriginality, but this year, I thought was a pretty solid year for both studio and independent horror.

How did you first come up with the idea for ‘Trick ‘r Treat’?

michael_dougherty-3It goes back to childhood. I am obsessed with Halloween. [laughs] I’m literally standing in my house right now surrounded by Halloween decorations in every room. I’m having a party. The obsession with the holiday has only grown over the years. When I finally reached that point where I decided I wanted to really get into the film industry, I thought it would only be fitting if one of my early films was a Halloween movie. The first script I ever wrote was ‘Trick ‘r Treat’. I think it’s funny that it was the first script I wrote and the latest movie I have actually finished. There’s something about the holiday that is so fantastic. It takes everything that we love about horror and the things that scare us and it makes them fun. Halloween isn’t really a scary holiday. If it was really scary we wouldn’t be sending our kids out into the streets to go knock on a stranger’s door. I really wanted to create a film which embodied both of those aspects. It’s scary, but it’s fun. It’s cute, but it’s creepy. That’s why the movie isn’t some hardcore shriek-fest. It’s not ‘The Shining’. It’s not even ‘Friday the 13th’. It’s a fun-house ride. I’ve always wanted to make a film which captured that essence. Even Carpenter’s film is one of my all time favorites. I just watched it again last night for the eighty billionth time. [laughs] It’s a genuinely scary movie. There aren’t too many light moments in that. So I wanted to create a Halloween movie which captured the true spirit of the holiday, which again is a combination of the scary and the funny.

‘Trick ‘r Treat’ is quite the tale and has a very elaborate storyline. Was it challenging for you to weave the stories together and how long did it take you to develop the script?

Oh god! The first draft was done in 2001. God! Worked on it off and on for five years. It’s one of those stories… I love these kinds of stories. I tend to find that all of my favorite horror movies went through the same process. From ‘The Omen’ to ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, you always hear about the script that was passed on by every single studio. ‘Trick ‘r Treat’ was one of them. People read it and they thought it was a great writing sample for me, but they were shy about making it. A lot of times I heard, “Well, can you make the ages of the kids older because you shouldn’t kill kids in movies. Blah, blah, blah…” So I got a lot of that. It took five years to really get it from first draft to greenlight. It was a long ride, but I think it was worth it. As far as the structure of the film, that was a huge challenge. I think I was a little unprepared for how complicated it could be to tell a story this way, to make an anthology film where the stories and the characters criss-cross into each other’s stories. At the same time, it was a fun challenge and it was worth it in the end. It made things more interesting as we were making it and made it more fun as we were making it. I feel like if I just did a traditional three act narrative, it wouldn’t have been challenging enough for me. I really wanted to juggle a bunch of stories. I wanted to make my own ‘Twilight Zone’ movie.

Anna Paquin in 'Trick 'r Treat'

Anna Paquin in 'Trick 'r Treat'

It reminds me a lot of ‘Creepshow’.

Yeah! It’s closer to ‘Twilight Zone’, but it’s definitely Creepshowesque in terms of feel. ‘Creepshow’ is definitely more tongue-in-cheek or campier if I dare say. We actually did a double feature in L.A. a few weeks ago of ‘Creepshow’ and my movie. It was the first time I had seen ‘Creepshow’ on the big screen. I realized I was definitely influenced by it, but it definitely has a pulpier tone to it than my movie.

What was the biggest challenge for you while working on the set of ‘Trick ‘r Treat’?

Time. Definitely time. That’s one thing that you’re never prepared for as a director the first time you step into the director’s chair. You sit down to shoot what you think is a very simple scene of two people talking and it might only be a half a page or a page long, but then you realize how complicated it can be. Every time you want to setup a new shot, the D.P. and his crew have to move the lights. Everything has to get shifted and moved. So, I always found myself underestimating the amount of time it would take to shoot something. I learned very, very quickly about how to shoot things quickly and efficiently. It was always a race against the clock to get everything you needed.

You directed a lot of highly talented actors and actresses in the film. What was the vibe like on the set?

It was fantastic. It was fantastic. Actors are some of my favorite people, especially on this movie. Everyone got along, everyone had a great time, and I made a lot of new friends. I am really happy I had that experience. It was the most down to earth and talented group of actors that I have ever had the experience of working with, probably since ‘X-Men 2’. We’ve become good friends because of it.

Now for the million dollar question that’s been on everyone’s mind for years. Why on Earth did the studio decide against releasing the film to theaters and were you disappointed with that decision?


Samm Todd in 'Trick 'r Treat'

Yeah! [laughs] Wow! You’re the first person to ask me that question I think! You know what… It’s all good! It’s all good! Why wasn’t it released? It’s a weird movie. I kind of get it. It would be a huge challenge marketing wise because it’s not a remake. Again, as we mentioned earlier. It’s not a remake. It’s not a sequel. It’s not based on anything. It’s not like we can hold up a comic book and say, “Oh! This is based on the ‘Trick ‘r Treat’ comic book, which was a huge thing for the past twenty years.” Right now studios are very averse to risk, which personally I think is a huge mistake. I like a good challenge. When Warner Brothers watched it I think they just looked at it and said, “This is one of the weirdest things we have ever seen. We don’t know how to handle it.” In my mind it’s kind of like an independent horror movie, which snuck into a studio, got itself made, and then the studio looked at it like this ugly baby. If you think about it, a lot of the favorite horror films that we love and cherish were independent. ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’. These movies, I don’t think, couldn’t have been made in a typical studio. They needed a certain amount of freedom. Had those movies been made in a studio, I don’t think they would have come out the same way. I think they would be subject to a lot of tinkering and retooling. They would have been redone so that they were more safe. I think this film is similar to that. It’s off beat, it’s quirky, it’s weird, but I also think those are all the reasons why people like it and that people are coming around to it. In the end that’s what matters to me. As long as people like the movie and that seems to be what’s happening. You can always tell if you have made something that you think is working. My gut, based on all of the reactions and feedback that I have been getting from people and that I see online, it’s all positive. In a lot of ways the path that this movie has taken is the best one. If I had to choose between the path this movie has taken, which was a string of underground film festival screenings around the world versus a 2500 screen release. Maybe it comes in at number six on a given weekend and then fades away by Monday. I’ll gladly take the path we took. [laughs] You know what I mean? If you think about it, there have been quite a few horror movies that came out over the past year, which doesn’t make a dent. Maybe they were good, but no one really knows because they were put up against some huge blockbuster and they opened up OK and then faded away. I’ll gladly take this path.

Trick ‘r Treat’ has been referred to as “the quintessential Halloween film” and has been called “the best horror anthology in years.” Did you ever expect that kind of reaction to the film?

No I didn’t! Again, that’s why I am really grateful and really happy right now. We’re a day away from Halloween. I finally got this thing finished. The reaction to it is beyond my wildest dreams. I am eternally grateful and flattered. I never expected it to go over this well, both amongst critics and fans. It’s been a long, long road, but it has a really happy ending. So, I’m good! [laughs]

There have been rumors that there may be a sequel. Is there any time frame on that or have there been any discussions?

No! No! [laughs] I love the Internet! You say one thing! One thing and everyone takes it out of context and runs with it! I had some fan send me a message on Facebook, or Myspace, or something like that. He said, “I heard you’re in pre-production on the sequel and that it’s coming out in 2012.” I’m like, “What!? No! Hold on! Hold on! All I said was that it would be neat to do a sequel.” I love sequels. I love good franchise films. Again, ‘Aliens’ is my all time favorite film and it’s a sequel. That said, they’re hard to do. They’re hard to do right. Most horror movies, especially, don’t get better with each sequel. They tend to get worse. I would love to do one if this one is successful enough and so far we’re off to a pretty great start in terms of sales. Again, there are business decisions to be made. Yeah I have ideas. At the very, very least, I think it would be neat to do a sequel in graphic novel format. Maybe do a graphic novel every year that gets released in early October. My mind is already kind of kicking around ideas for the next one. I definitely know, generally, who the main villain would be. Sam obviously comes back, but I don’t really consider him a villain. I consider him more of an anti-hero. [laughs] So I know who he would be facing off against in the next one.

trick-r-treat-sackheadDo you have any future film projects that we should be on the look out for?

Yeah! I try not to talk to much about them because I’m a little superstitious. I prefer working on stuff quietly and privately and then revealing it when it’s ready. It’s much more of a Steve Jobs approach to film making. [laughs]

He’s not doing anything wrong, so he’s a good model to follow!

Exactly! I’m a huge fan of Steve Jobs! It’s funny. Every time you open up the trades there’s always somebody announcing one thing or another. I always feel like it’s way to early for them to be yapping about it. Just keep it quiet! You know!? [laughs]

What is the best piece of advice that someone has given you along the way in your career?

It’s funny you mention that. One of the first producers on the project and someone who was one of my first contacts when I came to L.A., who kind of took me under his wing a little bit was Stan Winston. The creature effects guy. When I was in high school I always dreamed of working for Stan. Working in the shop and sculpting monsters and stuff. As luck would have it, he had seen my short film ‘Season’s Greetings’, which is a short film that ‘Trick ‘r Treat’ was based on. ‘Season’s Greetings’ has been my calling card for years, since college. It’s gotten me a lot of different meetings. Stan really loved it and he said, “We should work on something together.” So when I finished the first draft, I sent it to Stan and I said, “Listen. I’m not showing this to anybody else. I just want your opinion on it. Please don’t show this to anybody else, but just let me know what you thought about it.” He read it and he really loved it. We worked on it for a while, but unfortunately it didn’t get off the ground with Stan. The one piece of advice that he gave me, which I’ll never forget, and I always think of it whenever I’m having a bad day… All he said was, “Be Fearless.” He played Obi-Wan for me for a little while and I’ll never forget that piece of advice.

That being said, do you have an advice for anyone who would like to get involved in the entertainment industry?

I’ll pass on Stan’s advice. Be fearless. If I had to tack anything onto that it would be don’t quit. It sounds like the end of a ‘G.I. Joe’ episode where they say, “Knowing is half the battle.” [laughs] I hate to hand out fortune cookie cutter advice, but it’s true. Be fearless and don’t quit.

Do you have any last words?

Sit back, enjoy the ride, have a slice of pumpkin pie, and don’t be afraid to laugh.

All the best to you, Michael!

You too!

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James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ – New Character Images Unleashed!

James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ – New Character Images Unleashed!

Several new character images from James Cameron’s upcoming 3-D epic, Avatar, have hit the web! Check the photos out below and weigh in with your thoughts!

The film is slated to hit theaters on December 18th, 2009 and co-stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, and Michelle Rodriguez. Avatar is marks Cameron’s first directorial work since his Oscar winning film, Titanic, back in 1997.

The film takes place on Pandorum, a strange and beautiful planet with bizarre creatures and plant life. Sam Worthington plays a paraplegic who is linked through a medical process to an “avatar,” a 10-foot-tall, blue-skinned creature that looks like Pandorum’s native Na’vi. Cameron conceived Avatar 14 years ago and filmed it in stereoscopic 3-D using cameras developed by him.

The official website for the film can be found at www.avatarmovie.com.

Sources: Market Saw, Spoiler TV

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AMC Fearfest ’09 Returns For Eight Day Marathon

AMC Fearfest ’09 Returns For Eight Day Marathon

amc-fearfestThis month, AMC presents AMC FEARFEST, the most highly anticipated horror movie marathon of the Halloween season. A celebration of the best in contemporary and classic horror films, AMC FEARFEST features over 50 horror titles, three AMC CELEBRATES events, and interviews with some of Hollywood’s most renowned horror filmmakers. The eight-day marathon airs from October 23 until Halloween Day, October 31 from 7:30am-midnight.

Headlining AMC FEARFEST is a star-studded lineup of acclaimed filmmakers, who will host and introduce the presented films and offer insight on what creates a great horror flick. Among the AMC FEARFEST hosts are on-screen legend Cloris Leachman (Young Frankenstein), actress Margot Kidder (Amityville Horror), award-winning writer/director, George Romero (Night of the Living Dead), actor Lance Henriksen (Aliens and Aliens 3) and special effects producer, Shane Mahan (SFX Creature Effects Aliens).

AMC FEARFEST will also feature three AMC CELEBRATES events, honoring the milestone anniversaries of some of horror’s greatest movies :

· AMC Celebrates Alien 30th Anniversary – Airing Friday, October 23 at 8pm ET.

· AMC Celebrates Young Frankenstein 35th Anniversary – Airing Friday, October 30 at 8pm ET.

· AMC Celebrates The Amityville Horror 30th Anniversary – Airing Friday, October 30 at 10 :30pm ET.

In addition, AMC FEARFEST will include film classics by directors such as Stanley Kubrick, Ridley Scott, Stephen King, James Cameron, John Carpenter, Joss Whedon, Peter Jackson and Brian De Palma, as well as a special Halloween Day Marathon featuring the world premiere of the digitally restored and re-mastered Night of the Living Dead, airing at 6pm ET.

As part of the network’s online promotions of AMC FEARFEST, amctv.com will feature extended video interviews with Romero, Mahan and Henriksen. Also, available will be countless horror-focused trivia quizzes about such classic movie franchises as Alien, Dracula, The Exorcist, Ghostbusters, and Halloween. In addition, online will feature horror-related tournaments, including battles between the ‘Brides of Horror,’ ‘Evil Children,’ ‘Sinister Satans,’ and much more. Finally, the website will also be adding two new fright flicks to its ever-growing online B-Movie catalogue: Werewolves on Wheels and Fiend without a Face.

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