Scary Stuff Headed Our Way In 2005!
by Patrick Corcoran
Keen to make a top-grossing
movie but can’t
afford the biggest star? Think about making it scary.
Horror films tend to make more stars than
they cast, and star-free horror hits are as old as Hollywood.
Bela Lugosi before “Dracula”? Who was Kevin
Bacon before “Friday the 13th”? Who was Sigourney
Weaver before “Alien”? Who was Johnny Depp
before “Nightmare on Elm Street”? (Note that
2004 double-sequel “Alien Vs. Predator” didn’t
have Sigourney Weaver or Arnold Schwarzenegger but still
made a lot more money than either “Alien” or “Predator.”)
Gruesome horror hit “Saw” cost its producers
$1.5 million to make and has grossed more than $55 million.
Japanese horror remakes “The Ring” (2002) and “The
Grudge” (2004) have each grossed north of $100 million
domestically. “Exorcist: The Beginning” grossed
a comfortable $41.8 million, which would have been even
more comfy had Warner Bros. not made two prequels to get
one prequel it deemed releasable.
And, as we write this barely a month into
2005, we already have three sizeable 2005 horror hits, “White Noise” (Michael
Keaton’s biggest hit since taking off Batman’s
cowl), “Hide and Seek” and “Boogeyman” – with “Cursed,” “The
Ring Two,” “The Amityville Horror” and “House
of Wax” lurking right around the corner.
The more squeamish among us may choose to avert their eyes – this
month we present a sampling of the box office’s bloody
future beyond April.
“High Tension” ramps up the gore factor enough
to garner an NC-17, for strong graphic violence. The French-language
thriller, set in the isolated French countryside, centers
on a university coed who finds herself trying to rescue
her girlfriend from the homicidal maniac who kidnapped
her. Alexandre Aja directs from a screenplay by Aja and
Grégory Levasseur. Cécile De France (“Around
the World in 80 Days”), Maïwenn Le Besco (“The
Fifth Element”) and Philippe Nahon (“Irreversible”)
star. Lions Gate wires it up June 3.
“Undead” is an Australian
horror comedy about a meteorite shower that results in
a sudden increase in
the number of flesh-eating zombies. Michael Spierig and
Peter Spierig wrote and directed. It stars such big-screen
newcomers as Felicity Mason, Mungo McKay, Rob Jenkins,
Lisa Cunningham, Dirk Hunter, Emma Randall and Steve Grieg.
It gets an R for strong violence and gore, and for language.
Lions Gate gives us a limited taste July 1.
“Skeleton Key” is a thriller, set in New Orleans,
about a young caretaker who encounters unexplainably spooky
occurrences in the elderly couple’s house in which
she works. Iain Softley (“K-PAX”) directs from
a screenplay by Ehren Kruger (“The Ring,” “The
Ring 2”). Kate Hudson (“Raising Helen”),
Joy Bryant (“Spider-Man 2”), Peter Sarsgaard
(“Kinsey”), Forrest Landis (“Cheaper
By The Dozen”), Jamie Lee Redmon (“Seabiscuit”),
John Hurt (“Hellboy”) and Gena Rowlands (“The
Notebook”) star. Universal inserts it into theatres
Michael Bay, fresh from producing “Amityville Horror,” slips
into the director’s chair for “The Island.” The
science-fiction thriller is about a young man who becomes
aware of the fact that he is a “harvested being,” and
his ensuing attempts to escape the utopian facility where
he is being kept with other, similar beings. The screenplay
is by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (TV’s “Alias”),
and Caspian Tredwell-Owen (“Beyond Borders”).
Ewan McGregor (“Big Fish”), Scarlett Johansson
(“A Love Song for Bobby Long”), Steve Buscemi
(“Coffee and Cigarettes”), Sean Bean (“National
Treasure”), Michael Clarke Duncan (“Daredevil,” “D.E.B.S”),
Kevin Daniels (“Ladder 49”) and Djimon Hounsou
(“Constantine,” “Beauty Shop”)
star. DreamWorks books passage July 22.
“Dark Water” is a thriller about a woman who,
in an attempt to escape the misery of a custody battle,
moves with her young child into a dilapidated apartment
that turns out to be haunted. It’s an English-language
remake of the 2002 thriller “Honogurai mizu no soko
kara” written and directed by Hideo Nakata (the “Ringu” series).
Walter Salles (“Central Station,” “Behind
the Sun,” “The Motorcycle Diaries”) directs
from a screenplay by Rafael Yglesias (“Les Miserables,” “From
Hell”). Jennifer Connelly (“House of Sand and
Fog”), John C. Reilly (“The Hours,” “Criminal,” “The
Aviator”), Tim Roth (“The Musketeer,” “Silver
City”), Dougray Scott (“Enigma”), Ariel
Gade (“Envy”) and Pete Postlethwaite (“The
Shipping News,” “Between Strangers”)
star. It’s rated PG-13 for mature thematic material,
frightening sequences, disturbing images and brief language.
Buena Vista twists the spigot Aug 5.
“Doom,” based on the popular
computer game, is an actioner about a marine who finds
himself battling flesh-eating ghouls in a claustrophobic,
labyrinthine facility. Andrzei Bartkowiak (“Exit
Wounds,” “Cradle 2 The Grave”) directs
from a screenplay by Wesley Strick (“Return to Paradise,” “The
Glass House”) and Dave Callaham. Dwayne “The
Rock” Johnson (“Walking Tall,” “Be
Cool”), Karl Urban (“The Bourne Supremacy”)
and Rosamund Pike (“Die Another Day”) star.
Universal is fated to release it Aug. 5.
If history is a guide, things get plenty
gruesome in “The
Devil’s Rejects.” The sequel to the 2003 horror
thriller “House of 1000 Corpses,” concerns
the Firefly family and the revenge they exact upon their
local police department. Returnees from “Corpses” include
writer-director Rob Zombie and actors Sid Haig (“Kill
Bill Vol. 2”), Bill Moseley (“Mr. Jones”)
and Sheri Moon Zombie. Newcomers to the franchise include
Rosario Dawson (“Alexander”), Natasha Lyonne
(“Blade: Trinity”), Danny Trejo (“Anchorman”),
Brian Posehn (“Dumb and Dumberer”), Dave Sheridan
(“The Fighting Temptations”), Elizabeth Daily
(“Dutch”), Ginger Lynn Allen (“The Independent”),
Deborah Van Valkenburgh (“Criminal”), Priscilla
Barnes (“Mumford”), Mary Woronov (“Looney
Tunes: Back in Action”), Steve Railsback (“Disturbing
Behavior”), P.J. Soles (“Jawbreaker”),
Leslie Easterbrook (“Police Academy 6”), Michael
Berryman (“Spy Hard”), Daniel Roebuck (“Agent
Cody Banks 2”) and William Forsythe (“City
by the Sea,” “Coastlines”). It’s
rated R for sadistic violence, strong sexual content, language
and drug use. Lions Gate hopes to cannibalize some of the
original’s audience Aug. 12.
“The Woods” is a thriller about a neglected,
tormented teen who, after her classmates begin to disappear,
becomes aware of a mysterious inhabitant in the forest
surrounding her remote boarding school. Lucky McKee (“May”)
directs from a screenplay by David Ross. Agnes Bruckner
(“Murder by Numbers,” “Stateside,” “Haven”),
Patricia Clarkson (“Miracle,” “The Dying
Gaul”) and Marcia Bennett (“The Tuxedo,” “Noel”)
star. It’s rated R for horror violence and language,
including sexual references. MGM enrolls it in theatres
“The Exorcism Of Emily Rose,” based on a true
story, is about a priest put on trial after a young woman
dies during a lengthy exorcism. Screenwriter Scott Derrickson
(“Urban Legends: Final Cut”) directs from a
screenplay by Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman (“Urban
Legends: Final Cut”). Laura Linney (“Kinsey”),
Campbell Scott (“The Secret Lives of Dentists”),
Tom Wilkinson (“Stage Beauty”), Jennifer Carpenter
(“White Chicks”), Shohreh Aghdashloo (“House
of Sand and Fog”), Joshua Close (“A Home at
the End of the World”), Colm Feore (The Chronicles
of Riddick”) and Marsha Regis (“White Noise”)
star. Sony casts it out Sept. 9.
“Land Of The Dead,” a sequel to “Night
of the Living Dead,” “Dawn of the Dead” and “Day
of the Dead,” is about a world overrun by the undead,
and a team of survivors who must routinely venture out
into zombie-infested territories to find supplies for a
protected city of the living. George Romero (“The
Dark Half”), who wrote and directed the first three
installments, does the same for the fourth. Simon Baker
(“The Affair of the Necklace,” “The Ring
Two”), Asia Argento (“Queen Margot”),
Dennis Hopper (“Knockaround Guys”), Boyd Banks
(“Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” “Cinderella
Man”), Robert Joy (“Joe Somebody”) and
John Leguizamo (“Assault on Precinct 13”) star.
Universal re-animates it Oct. 21.
“The Fog,” is a remake of the 1980 John Carpenter
film about a vengeful group of shipwrecked ghosts who terrorize
a Northern California town while wreathed in a lethal fog.
Rupert Wainwright (“Stigmata”) directs from
a screenplay by Cooper Layne (“The Core”).
Sony plans to let it roll out Oct. 21.
Little is known about the plot of “The Grudge 2,” but
the sequel to the 2004 hit is expected to inflict more
vengefulness on the character essayed by Sarah Michelle
Gellar. Director Takashi Shimizu is also expected to return.
Sony plans an Oct. 21 release.
Not much is known about “Saw 2” either,
not even whether any of the survivors return from the
claustrophobic slaughter-fest. Director James Wan is expected
to return. Lions Gate has carved out an Oct. 28 release
“Underworld: Evolution” is a sequel to the
2003 horror action-thriller, this time about the lovers
from the first film tracing the origins of the ancient
feud that pits the vampiric Death Dealers against the Lycan
tribe of werewolves. Returnees from part one include director-screenwriter
Len Wiseman, screenwriter Danny McBride and actors Kate
Beckinsale (“Van Helsing,” “The Aviator”),
Scott Speedman (“My Life Without Me,” “XXX:
State of the Union”), Bill Nighy (“Shaun of
the Dead”), Shane Brolly (“Impostor”),
Scott McElroy (“The Mask”) and Michael Sheen
(“Laws of Attraction”). Newcomers include Derek
Jacobi (“Two Men Went To War”), Tony Curran
(“Flight of the Phoenix”) and Caroline Marcelle
(TV’s “Medium”). Sony plans a Dec. 9
“Bloodrayne,” based on the hit video game and set
in 18th-century Romania, is a horror thriller about a sexy
half-vampire who vows to avenge the death of her mother
by destroying her father, the most evil vampire of the
land. Uwe Boll (“House of the Dead,” “Alone
in the Dark”) directs from a screenplay by Guineviere
Turner (“American Psycho,” “Ballad of
the Betty”). Kristanna Loken (“Terminator 3:
Rise of the Machines”), Michelle Rodriguez (“S.W.A.T.),
Ben Kingsley (“Suspect Zero,” “A Sound
of Thunder”), Matthew Davis (“Seeing other
People”) and Michael Madsen (“Kill Bill,” “Sin
City”) star. It’s set for a November bow in
Russia, but has yet to secure a domestic distributor.