2012 is kaput, in the books, stick a fork in it it's all done friends. It's time to take a quick look ahead at what the first few months of the new year have in store for genre fans. What is going to be this year's Cabin in the Woods-i.e. the movie that gets jaded fans to squee with delight for months on end? Here's a hint, it's not going to be the first wide release horror film of the year.
When I started to put this list together I had forgotten how front loaded the first two months of the new year are with genre fare. Between a handful of wide release films and much anticipated fare hitting VOD, iTunes or Blu Ray/DVD, there's a new film for each week. If I missed anything (and I MUST have-there's too much good stuff hitting for this to be complete) feel free to chime in with your input in the comments.
This list only explores the first two months of the year and doesn't even include impressive remakes (Maniac, Carrie, The Evil Dead) a documentary that explores conspiracy theories behind The Shining (Room 237) and Del Toro's hotly anticipated Pacific Rim (I'm lukewarm on it). This is shaping up to be a banner year for horror fans.
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3D I have a special place in my heart for Tobe Hooper's film about a merry and misunderstood family of Texas hicks. At one point during my early 20s, a group of us would gather at my friends house, listen to shitty punk bands play his basement, eat tons of crap food, prank call girls that wouldn't piss on us if we were on fire and end the night getting blackout drunk while watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre. We'd scream obscenities that would make Bill Hicks blush whenever Franklin came on screen and raise a celebratory toast when he took the chainsaw to his enlarged midsection. After a painful breakup I hung the poster you see to the right on my bedroom wall. A lady friend then replaced that poster with one for Say Anything, promising that I'd get laid more often, and then keeping that promise.
That said, this reboot/quasi sequel to the first film looks about as appealing as a potato sack of microwaved kittens. It's only out of a sense of obligation (like having to visit your kindly but deaf 80 year old aunt around the holidays) that I'll trundle to the theater and sulk throughout the film with my arms folded. This looks like what someones idea of what a Texas Chainsaw Massacre theme park ride should look like. I would wager this is going to be one of the noisiest, headache inducing films of the year. TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3D hits theaters January 4th
WAKE IN FRIGHT This long believed lost Australian film received a beautiful restoration before its very limited batch of screening engagements last year. Chances are the upcoming BluRay and DVD release will be the first opportunity to lay your eyeballs on a wonderful piece of gonzo cinema. The story of a teacher trapped in a backwater town is less a horror film than the kind of unending nightmare that finds one running in place with one's legs sucked into mud, with no hope in sight. Also, if you're troubled by house guests that don't know when to leave, just throw the midnight hunting scene on repeat, crank the volume as high as it will go and make sure it's running when they enter the room. They'll be gone in minutes. This release ships January 15th
MAMA At the other end of the spectrum comes a new "Guilermo Del Toro Presents" jam. MAMA looks like it has a few positives in the plus ledger. Andres Muschieti's short film of the same name is beautifully short and creepy. It's this short that led Del Toro to option a feature length version (check out the short and his introduction below). Jessica Chastain is fantastic in just about everything she's appeared in (and is near unrecognizable with the indie rocker look she's sporting for the film) and I'm excited to see Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of Game of Thrones in more things. Finally, even a Del Toro production (and DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is awful) is at least gorgeous to look at. MAMA hits theaters January 18th
HANSEL & GRETEL WITCH HUNTERS Can someone explain how a charisma vacuum suck like Jeremy Renner keeps landing leading or large supporting roles in tentpole movies? He exudes all the excitement of tapioca pudding. Anyways, if you enjoy Grimm's Fairy Tales but find yourself thinking they need more slow motion explosions and bondage gear this movie is right up your alley, and I hate you. January 25th
JOHN DIES AT THE END This should hit theaters a bit later in the winter, but it will be limited to a few screens in a few cities with little to no advertising beforehand. In other words, the best way to catch this film is via video-on-demand on outlets such as iTunes and Amazon. Don Coscarelli hasn't been this great since Phantasm with a film that is funny as hell, packed with outstanding performances and stuffed with bizarre monsters and surreal, nightmarish imagery. This is a MUST see film. JOHN DIES AT THE END is currently available through VOD outlets
THE ABC'S OF DEATH Like most anthology movies, this one is a bit of a mixed bag, but when it works, the results are outstanding. It's a novel concept with twenty six unrelated short films each tackling the subject of death via a different letter of the alphabet. While there are some clunkers (between this and V/H/S Ti West should never ever attempt a short film again) but there at least a dozen shorts that will make genre fans stand up and cheer. This one also gets the video-on demand treatment prior to a limited theatrical run. ABC'S OF DEATH is available via VOD starting January 31st
WARM BODIES I just watched the trailer for the first time and am surprised by how much I enjoy it. Somewhere out there must exist documentary footage depicting who pitched this project to John Malkovich followed by his internal thoughts made external as he debated whether or not to take the project on. On paper it seems like something I would hate: a romantic comedy pairing a zombie with a would be victim from the studio that brought you Twilight (Summit Entertainment). The trailer is shockingly funny, doesn't skimp on zombie vs. man violence and the leads have decent chemistry at first blush. Bonus points for the would-be girlfriend holding a copy of Fulci's Zombie up to the lead's head for a side by side comparison. This might make for a great date night right around Valentine's Day. WARM BODIES hits theaters February 2nd.
DARK SKIES At first blush, this alien abduction tale has a vibe not dissimilar to The Fourth Kind, which isn't a film I'd want to associate myself with. However, Blumhouse productions has demonstrated a knack for delivering big creeps on a small scale with Sinister and Insidious, and Keri Russel deserves to be in more things. There's hints of a deeper story buried within, and the birds snippet from the trailer looks like it will play out great in theaters. I'm willing to give this one a shot. DARK SKIES hits theaters February 22nd
STOKER The brilliant korean filmmaker behind the "vengeance" trilogy (Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance) as well as the fairy tale-like vampire tale Thirst makes his English language debut with the upcoming STOKER. Chan-Wook Park shares Del Toro's ability to create visually stunning modern day fairy tales, except Park's carry more of an edge with a willingness to explore and depict visceral violence that leaves the fantasy world behind. Check out the trailer below if you need evidence. The two minutes below showcase Nicole Kidman spitting icy venom and Alice In Wonderland's Mia Wasikowska as a confused, lonely girl drawn to a very dangerous man. STOKER gets a limited release March 1st