Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:00:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Watch the Official Trailer for Chirs Rock’s Top Five Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:00:22 +0000 Check out the new trailer for Top Five from writer/director Chris Rock.


TOP FIVE: Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, “TOP FIVE” tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist forces him to confront the comedy career—and the past—that he’s left behind.

Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che and Jay Pharoah. Written and directed by Chris Rock. (PARAMOUNT PICTURES) Not yet rated.

For more information, please visit the TOP FIVE OFFICIAL SITE or on FACEBOOK and TWITTER

TOP FIVE will be in select theaters on December 5, 2014!

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Honest Trailers: Fight Club Wed, 22 Oct 2014 03:01:33 +0000 It’s been 15 years since Tyler Durden laid out the rules of Fight Club. Now relive the classic movie about violence, mayhem, and…littering with this Honest Trailer from Screen Junkies. Check out the trailer above!

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Box Office Weekend: Fury Leads As Box Office Falters Mon, 20 Oct 2014 03:35:04 +0000 While nowhere near the doldrums of the September box office, there has been a downward trend to weekend gross the past two weeks, so while Fury may have topped the box office with an estimated $23.5 million it does not have quite the lead Gone Girl (estimated $17.8 million) held when it debuted two weeks ago. In fact, despite the fact that the top three films, including The Book of Life (estimated $17 million) have all received positive press, only Gone Girl has managed to become a domestic success.

FuryAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day got a big boost from this weekend, an estimated $12 million enough to make it domestically profitable. Nicholas Sparks, however, may have a certified dud on his hands if things do not pick up for The Best of Me. Poorly received by critics, its estimated $10.2 million is not even half of its $26 million costs. Dracula Untold also is still behind on its earnings with an estimated $9.9 million, but has the benefit of strong overseas numbers giving it a boost.

The Judge slipped a few places and quite a bit in revenue, with an estimated $7.9 million bringing it to just a little over half its costs. However, it is the last one on the list to be unsuccessful, as the final three have done extremely well. Annabelle remains the best earning of the lot, an estimated $7.9 million adding to a $74.1 million domestic total, fantastic news for a horror film that cost only $6.5 million. The Equalizer (estimated $5.5 million) has made more money overall ($89.2 million), but cost much more to make at $55 million, while The Maze Runner (estimated $4.5 million) sits high and mighty with $90.8 million over a $34 million budget.

Weekend Box Office (October 17th – October 19th)

  1. Fury…$23.5 million
  2. Gone Girl…$17.8 million
  3. The Book of Life…$17 million
  4. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day…$12 million
  5. The Best of Me…$10.2 million
  6. Dracula Untold…$9.9 million
  7. The Judge…$7.9 million
  8. Annabelle…$7.9 million
  9. The Equalizer…$5.5 million
  10. The Maze Runner…$4.5 million
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Movie Review: Fury Fri, 17 Oct 2014 04:38:03 +0000 Fury is a film about an American tanker unit during the last stretch of WWII in 1945. The Allies are well into Germany at this point and only the real fanatics, primarily the SS units, are the major problem. However, being fanatics the fighting is particularly intense as it is the phase of the war where the German soldiers are protecting the fatherland itself. Fierce resistance is an understatement. The film was written and directed by David Ayer, who also wrote Training Day (2001) and The Fast and the Furious (2001). He directed End of Watch (2012) and Sabotage (2014). In short, the guy knows action.

FuryThis film is intense – as it should be. War is indeed hell. Fury successfully shows us that. The opening is a jarring scene and sets the tone. Death comes quickly, like a shadow in the fog, and it is brutal.

The film begins with the tanker crew of the tank named Fury, led by Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt), awaiting the last of the enemy to clear the area so they can make their way back to their own side of “the Front.” The battle is over. Wreckage and carnage and smoke cover the area for miles around them. They sit in Fury reeling from their losses. They are the only surviving tank in their platoon. Worse yet, their assistant driver has been killed right in their midst. He is the first fatality in their small, tightly knit unit after years at war. So the crew waits and bickers and waits some more.

The remaining crew is made up of three men, in addition to Sgt Collier. The driver is Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena). The gunner is Boyd “Bible” Swan. The engineer/loader is Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis. The nicknames alone tell you who’s who here. The Fury makes its’ way back to the Allied line and gets new orders to head out on the next mission. Also, their missing man is replaced. Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is a raw recruit that has been assigned to the Fury. He has only been through basic training, never seen combat, and has no tank training at all.

Director Ayer, who also wrote the film, uses the rookie to introduce us to life inside a tank crew. They are stuck together closer than a submarine crew and must often face the unknown, battle, boredom and daily living together in such a way that bonds the men even when they clearly have little in common with one another. Norman is a good way into the group for the audience as we are all outsiders.

Right away, Norman, is introduced to tanker life with his first order. Clean out the seat he will be sitting in. Blood, viscera, and part of the prior tenant’s face are all strewn about the close confines of the assistant drivers’ spot. Welcome to the war Norman. Norman’s job as the assistant driver is to operate a machine gun that is set low enough to protect the tank from close proximity attacks, these attacks would easily be out of the limited range of the canon that the gunner is operating, and to act as the secondary offensive weapon. Norman has never fired a gun before.

FuryWhat follows is a series of impressive battle scenes. The spectacle of the tracer bullets is awesome and horrifying all at once. Distilled chaos; but with better special effects. The battles are paralleled by the war between Norman and Don. Norman is going to lose, just as the Germans are, but both sides will pay a price in the end. Don knows he needs to get Norman up to speed right away or he will get the entire crew killed if he freezes at the wrong moment. Getting Norman in killing mode is job one at the top of Don’s list. The second act is about making that conversion happen. Getting naive Norman to understand the need to become a killer is required. Otherwise he will die. Don at one point tells Norman,”Ideals are quiet. History is violent.”

The inevitable occurs as the third act approaches. This is a war movie after all. The Fury is sent on a mission that is absolutely critical as described by Captain Waggoner (Jason Isaacs) in a surprisingly convincing Bronx accent. The crossroads that the tanker platoon must go and defend is the only defense the supply train has got. If the Germans can cut the Americans’ supplies then the entire division, thousands of soldiers, will be at risk. Don has just four tanks to hold the line with. The conclusion of fighting to the last man is expected but magnificently executed. Each man is terrified but determined. Tears and bullets mix at times.

The acting in this movie is truly top notch from the whole cast. Pitt was the best I have ever seen him. Got a little Eastwood in him here I would say. But at the same time you can see, and there a few scenes dedicated to showing it, that the task of leadership and the general overall horror of it all is eating away at him.

The only real setback the movie has is the script. Mostly it is fine, but the conversion of Norman to Don’s point of view isn’t given enough time to develop. Moralist to killer happens so fast it sort of makes your head spin. It really detracts from the believability of the story. This might be more of an editing issue I suppose but it certainly sticks out either way. Otherwise, I would say Fury is the best war movie I have seen since Saving Private Ryan (1998). It is a realistic look at a tough subject to watch (much less experience).

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From Vampires to Cave Girls: The History of Hammer Films Tue, 14 Oct 2014 04:01:59 +0000 That a little studio located in the English countryside consistently put out high quality films on a very limited budget is one of the great stories in filmmaking history. Hammer Films was the most successful independent film company ever, producing comedy, drama, mysteries, and war movies before finding their niche in horror. Hammer became a name synonymous with horror, a name that still means something today.

HammerThey took their horror stories from English literature set in Europe in the 19th century and their carefully designed and constructed sets created an atmosphere that made the time and place as much a part of the film as the story. After securing remake rights from Universal for their catalog of classics from the 1930s and 1940s, Hammer became the leading producer of horror films. Hammer’s philosophy was straightforward: always be entertaining, have plenty of sex appeal, and lots of violence and blood. And be scary. A philosophy that made their films popular with fans but not with critics.

Hammer also made science fiction and psychological thrillers and when their fortunes were sagging in the mid-sixties they hit it big with their prehistoric movies. These so called Cave Girl films were entertaining nonsense built on what they had learned from their success with horror: keep the story moving and have a beautiful girl at its center. The girls look much better than they should have in 10,000 B.C., but their perfectly conditioned hair and shiny teeth were the least of the inaccuracies in these films.

The first of the Cave Girl films was One Million Years B.C. (1966). Raquel Welch, in only her fourth feature film, became a star and her iconic poster from the film graced the walls of college dormitory rooms for years to come. The stop-action animation effects by Ray Harryhausen are pretty good, a volcano wipes out half the cast, and the camera is always focused on the way too beautiful Welch. Hammer completed its pre-historic trilogy with blonde Playboy playmate of the year Victoria Vetri in 1971’s When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. Sanna (Vetri) is about to be sacrificed to the sun god when she is rescued by an admirer from another tribe. Love, betrayal and dinosaurs were a winning combination for Hammer as both films made money.

One Million Years, B.C.The success of 1965’s She, starring Ursula Andress, was the catalyst for the Cave Girl films and Hammer’s success with science fiction encouraged them to go into horror. The science fiction/horror film, The Creeping Unknown (1955), was the first of several popular Hammer films that brought English radio character Professor Quartermass to the screen. A spaceship returns to earth with only one of three crewmembers aboard and he’s not doing so well. The astronaut is in a zombie-like state, his body invaded by an alien who turns him into a tentacled monster. Science fiction set in the Scottish moors gives a gothic feel to X: The Unknown (1956). Recent atomic experiments have awoken a radioactive mud creature who lives in the earth’s core. Electricity, a tried and proven weapon against monsters, brings the blob of mud down as an atomic scientist and the British Army save the day.

Violence, terror, blood, and gore combined with beautiful sets photographed in rich color are the trademark of Hammer Horror – as is the presence of alluring young women. The Hammer Girls have the unbeatable combination of being both in peril and beautiful. Although they weren’t always the best written or best acted parts, the girls always figured prominently in the films and became a big part of the studios reputation for sensationalism. The sorority, which include stars Ingrid Pitt, Susan Strasberg, and Nastassja Kinski as well as Bond Girls Ursula Andress, Caroline Munro, Honor Blackman, and Madeleine Smith, has been the subject of books and many websites.

Hammer’s Golden Age was short and from the Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 and Dracula in 1958 to the unwatchable Dracula A.D. 1972, the quality of the films were slowly but steadily in decline. With the release of films like Rosemary’s Baby in 1968 and The Exorcist in 1973, Hammer’s gothic tales seemed tame and dated. They were unable to keep up with the new horror films and ceased production in the mid 1980s. But for a few years Hammer’s films were as popular as any made in the world.

Hammer Films was finally sold in 2000 to a consortium that never produced a movie. The company was sold again in 2007 to a group that announced that they intended to make horror films in the Hammer tradition. They have since released Let Me In (the re-make of Let The Right One In) in 2010, The Resident starring Hillary Swank in 2011, and The Woman in Black in 2012.

In order of release, the best of Hammer Horror is as follows:


The Curse of FrankensteinThe Curse of Frankenstein was Hammer’s first horror. It introduced Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and marked a new era in horror films as it grossed $30 million, eight times its cost. Universal allowed Hammer to make this film as long as if was sufficiently different than their 1931 classic – including the copyrighted look of the monster. Hammer made the focus more on Frankenstein than his creation, a concept they would repeat in all six of their Frankenstein films. Cushing was in his first film for Hammer and would go on to play the Baron in all of the sequels. The virtually unknown Lee was given the part of the monster because of his size, 6’-4”, and his melancholy look. This was also the first of director Terence Fisher’s 16 horror films that he would do for Hammer. As much as anyone, Fisher is responsible for creating the Hammer style.

Horror of DraculaHorror of Dracula (original title: Dracula) was the first color version of the vampire legend. To make the necessary deviation from Universal’s film, Jonathan Harker goes from real estate lawyer to vampire hunter posing as a librarian who has come to Castle Dracula to catalog the Count’s extensive collection of books. Lee has almost no lines but his portrayal of the vampire is considered by many to be the best ever. Fear and eroticism, the two staples of the gothic vampire story, were made the most of. The women willingly succumb to the Count’s spell as Dracula preys on their repressed sexual desires. This strong element along with adding a bit more realism – Dracula does not turn into a bat – makes this, in many ways, better than the Bela Lugosi film. This is widely considered Hammer’s best; it is the film they are known for and is one of the all-time horror greats.

The Hound of the BaskervillesHammer was gaining a reputation for excellence in horror and 1958’s Hound of The Baskervilles was a highly anticipated film. More than any other film, this one pretty much defines the Hammer Style. Once again Lee, Cushing, and Fisher combined to make the best version of a film that has been made a dozen times since 1914. It’s a horror film only in that it has the basic elements of terror and fear which was not enough for fans whose disappointment resulted in lackluster box office numbers. But the moody atmospherics, terrific sets and locations, top notch direction, cinematography, and acting make this a great film. And Cushing is the best Sherlock Holmes ever. Why they never made another Sherlock Holmes movie is a mystery worthy of the attention of the detective himself.

The MummyAfter the success of Dracula, Universal and Hammer finally struck a deal giving Hammer remake rights to all of Universal’s horror classics. For The Mummy (1959) Hammer ignored the very bad sequels done by Universal and went back to the original source material for their screenplay. The result is a film that is every bit as good as the 1932 version. Flashback sequences tell of the legend of Princess Ananka and the forbidden love between her and High Priest Kharis (Lee). After the Princess dies a sudden death, Kharis commits blasphemy as he tries to bring her back to life with incantations from the sacred scrolls. For his efforts, Kharis is buried alive with the body of Ananka and resurrected thousands of years later when her tomb is desecrated by a team of archaeologists led by John Banning (Cushing). A huge success, the film broke the box office numbers of Dracula.

The Brides of DraculaLee did not play the Count in The Brides of Dracula (1960), opting out for fear of becoming typecast. Instead Dracula was replaced by the vampire Baron Meinster played by David Peel. This film expands on the Stoker legend introducing silver chains as a means to restrain a vampire and portraying the undead as much more humanistic – and sexual. French schoolteacher Marianne comes to town and is invited to stay at Castle Meinster by the Baron’s mother. The Baroness keeps her son restrained while providing him with young victims from the nearby all-girls school, but Marianne unknowingly frees the Baron from his chains. Heavy overtones of incest, sadomasochism, and homosexuality make this Hammer’s most daring film. Cushing is once again Van Helsing, and in one of the great scenes in the Dracula series is bit on the neck by the vampire but saves himself by cauterizing the wound with a white hot branding iron.

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) is Hammer’s only addition to the lycanthrope canon. Hammer had been in production on a film (The Rape of Sabena) to be set during the Spanish Inquisition but shelved the project over protests from the Catholic Church, who no doubt thought it hit a little close to home. The studio made use of the sets, changing the location for the remake of The Wolf Man from England (the novel is set in Paris) to Spain. The problem horror fans had with this film was the lack of screen time for the wolf man. Hammer’s less is more approach focuses on Leon’s struggle from childhood to contain the beast within and the hope as a young man that the love of the beautiful Christina will save him. Oliver Reed puts in a great performance as Leon and the transformation scenes were well done for their time.

The Kiss of the VampireThe opening scene in The Kiss of the Vampire (1963) is pure Hammer: with the Old English script titles running, a funeral procession slowly moves past barren trees to an isolated graveyard. In the distance, a castle in the mountains looks down on the Bavarian village below. Even without Cushing, Lee, or Fisher, this is one of the best of the gothic vampire tales. At the turn of the century, an English honeymooning couple makes the mistake of accepting the hospitality of the vampire Dr. Ravna who has his eye on the lovely Marianne. Not as bloody as most, this film emphasizes the seductiveness of the undead as played out in a surrealistic masked ball where the couple is drugged and Marianne corrupted by the vampire.

Peter CushingHammer ventured outside of their usual repertoire taking a story from Greek mythology for 1964’s The Gorgon. Their Big Three – Cushing, Lee, and Fisher – were back together for the first time since The Mummy and produced what was a critically acclaimed, if not financially successful, film. The film was properly gothic, set in a German village at the turn of the century. Hammer’s first female monster is the last remaining Gorgon and her image is so horrifying to look at that anyone who gazes upon her turns to stone. In a bit of a role reversal Cushing plays the dubious Dr. Namaroff, head of the local insane asylum who knows more than he’s letting on, and Lee plays the hero in folk lore expert Prof. Carl Maister from the University of Leipzig.

Frankenstein Must Be DestroyedFrankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), the fifth film in the series, completes the transformation of the Baron from misunderstood genius to monster. Frankenstein was always short on ethics, but here crosses the line to pure evil. He blackmails a young doctor and his fiancé into helping him in his mad scheme to transplant the brain of an insane doctor; a plan which, as always, results in a hideous being. Frankenstein’s total control of the two doomed lovers is complete as he brutally rapes Ana played by Hammer veteran Veronica Carlson. The actors and director were uncomfortable with the rape scene and that emotion comes across in the performance. Fisher considers this his best film; it is one of the darkest of Hammer’s films.

The Vampire LoversWith The Vampire Lovers (1970), Hammer explored a theme that would become popular in European horror films: lesbian vampires. This is part of their Karnstein trilogy of three films based on the story of Carmilla Karnstein from the 1871 gothic novella Carmilla. This film includes another Hammer twist on the vampire legend as Carmilla morphs into a large cat to seduce her sleeping victim. The film has Hammer’s usual well done sets, lighting, and color photography and was shamelessly high on titillation: Carmilla, played by Polish actress Ingrid Pitt, prefers girls. Pitt had no problem with the nude scenes but Madeleine Smith, who played the doe-eyed innocent virgin, was uncomfortable and later said she wished she hadn’t done them.

Pitt returns in Countess Dracula (1971), another tale of violence, horror, and sex with more nudity than any other Hammer film. Although Hammer promoted it as being “the first horror film to be based completely on a true story,” the fact is that the real story was much more horrific. Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory was the most prolific female serial killer in history. Her victims – all young females – are estimated at over 650. Hammer’s film exploited the legend that the Countess exhibited vampire like qualities including bathing in the blood of her virgin victims to retain her youth. In our film, the Countess enlists the aid of her faithful servant Captain Dobi in procuring her blood donors and kidnaps her own daughter (played by Leslie-Ann Down), taking her place and enjoying her suitors. This film made Pitt a cult legend.

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