One of televisions very best programs didn’t miss a beat when it returned for its third season Sunday night. Showtime’s serial killer series, DEXTER, proved it’s a MUST watch for anyone who admires the very best that the medium has to offer. While I won’t give away specifics, the episode features two major twists. One in the beginning, which sets things in motion for the rest of the season and the other, at the very end, which will set things in motion for the rest of Dexter’s (Michael C. Hall) life. Jimmy Smits is a solid addition and his district attorney character will be a prominent component for this season’s storyline. I also must mention that JENNIFER CARPENTER, who plays Dexter’s sister Deb on the show, is terrific – her work is Emmy caliber. Overall I give the premiere episode 9 out of 10. What I like so much about this show is that it plays out like a ten-hour movie; each episode building on itself, gaining momentum for a season finale that wraps itself up with a fitting conclusion. The show is multi layered, intelligent and always intriguing. This is a program I do not MISS and neither should YOU!
The highly hyped political action thriller EAGLE EYE opened on top of the national box-office over the weekend. The film, starring Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan pulled in 29.2 million dollars in its first week in release. Despite lackluster reviews, the film felt like summer fare and, in the month of September, that’s a big advantage.
The romantic drama NIGHTS IN RODANTE, which pairs Richard Gere and Diane Lane for the third time on screen, placed second pulling in a solid 13.6 mill in business. A few other box-office items of interest: Spike Lee’s WW2 drama, MIRACLE ON ST ANNA, opened to weak reviews which pretty much solidified its fate as a 2hour and 40 minute bomb, grossing an anemic 3.5 mill in ticket-sales. It placed 9th. The Christian based film, FIREPROOF, starring born-again Kirk Cameron grossed a very healthy 6.5 mill on a budget of just 500,000. This film was heavily promoted on the CBN network where Cameron has a Christian themed hellfire program called Way of the Master. It placed 4th. Here’s a LOOK at the weekend TOP TEN
Amy Poehler plays Katie Couric. With the chance Palin could be our Vice-President, this skit is both funny and frightening at the same time! Check it out!
After much speculation, Miki Pfeiffer’s Dr Pratt character was killed off in the season premier of ER on Thursday night. It wasn’t very surprising since it’s been pretty widely known after being reported at the end of last year. What was surprising was the way he meet his demise. Last season’s cliffhanger had Pratt riding in the back of an ambulance that had exploded, when a group of mobsters carried out a hit on a mob informant, played by guest star Steve Busemi. It didn’t look good for either one of them. Well, when this new season opened, Pratt had survived appearing pretty much intact, but we slowly start to realize he has a neck hematoma that is causing him to slowly bleed out. As the grueling hour passes, despite a gallant effort his fellow colleagues are unable to save him, and he passes away on the operating table.
As a fan of the show from the beginning it was a compelling but really sad piece of television to view. As for Pfeiffer, he had asked to be taken out as he wants to pursue other avenues at this stage in his career, including directing. He had been on the program for eight seasons. His first episode was ORION IN THE SKY, a classic piece of TV which happened to be Dr Mark Green’s (Anthony Edwards) last day in the ER before he was killed off. Pfeiffer brought a lot to the long running show, and his character was a terrific role model for inner city kids. I’ll miss him in this fifteenth and final season for this TV institution. Here’s a LOOK at his final moments in case you missed it!
With News that the legendary GEORGE ROMERO is all set to start filming his newest ZOMBIE film, reportedly a quasi-sequel to his DIARY OF THE DEAD, with the storyline set on an island, I thought I would take a look at his legacy in this genre. It started in 1968 with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, a low budget shocker that was not only way ahead of its time, but one of the most influential movies ever made. It also launched the concept of the flesh eating undead! Shot on a budget of less than 115,000, the film, laced with the director’s trademark social commentary, was heavily criticized upon its release in 1968 as it featured the type of graphic content not seen in movies at this time. It also featured a black man as its lead, well played by DUANE JONES, in low key but heroic fashion. While not very successful on its initial release, the black and white film started to catch on in a decade worth of re-releases, especially midnight showings. Its reputation would be solidified with solid word of mouth and become a cult classic. Ultimately Night of The Living Dead grossed over 40,000,000 worldwide and put first time director Romero on the map!
A little more than a decade later Romero would create not only one of the greatest genre films ever made, but one of the best movies ever produced. That was his 1978 film, DAWN OF THE DEAD. Shot over the course of four months on a budget of less than $1,000,000., the film is considered by many, including myself, as the Gone with the Wind of the horror genre. Filmed mainly at the Monroeville mall in Pennsylvannia, Romero used the zombie setting to take a shot at America’s obsession with consumerism. Despite its modest budget, the film comes off as epic in scope and works on many levels. Part horror, part action adventure and socially relevant, the film is a true classic. If there’s truly a thing as movie magic, Dawn of the Dead has it, as it’s a totally satisfying movie on every level. The cast, which included mostly unknowns including Ken Foree, David Emge, Scott Reiniger and Gaylen Ross, all worked well together creating well-rounded and memorable characters, despite a grueling filming schedule of overnight shooting. That was due to the availability of the Monroeville mall as it was open to the public during the day. The film’s concept of four people who hide out in a shopping mall during a massive zombie outbreak is one of pure fantasy that audiences really got involved in. Dawn became a mainstay of the midnight movie going experience and the film would ultimately gross more than $55,000,000. There are three different versions of the film, available on the definitive ultimate special edition DVD – a must own for any collection. The three versions are the U.S theatrical version (Romero’s definitive cut), the European version (slightly shorter with a different score), and the extended version (the longest version and my personal favorite).
In 1985 Romero’s third entry in his dead trilogy, DAY OF THE DEAD, was released to mixed/negative reviews as many complained the film, set mostly in an underground army base, was too slow, talky and depressing. Its main theme of scientists versus the military wasn’t nearly as epic as his much bigger in scope Dawn of the Dead, which sort of took fans by surprise. Over the years many have come to appreciate the film as a solid entry in his original trilogy and Romero himself regards it as his favorite in the series. While Dawn remains my personal favorite, I’ve always liked Day a lot, and think it’s a fascinating film. The movie grossed 5.8 million domestically and 34 million internationally, making it profitable.
In 2005, twenty years after his last zombie film, Romero took the bait of the studio system and created his LAND OF THE DEAD for Universal. The film, which dealt with America’s class system set against the backdrop of a continuing zombie plague, opened to a majority of positive reviews – although hard core fans thought the overall experience was somewhat lackluster. While I like the film, I don’t think it’s on par with the original trilogy. Worldwide, the movie grossed 46,000,000 on a budget of 16,000,000.
Romero’s barely released DAIRY OF THE DEAD (2008) which was shot for only $1,000,000., using the handheld semi shaky camera technique, was an interesting film indeed. While I think it has to be judged somewhat on its budgetary constraints, the movie works as an interesting companion piece to his original 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead, as the story deals with the beginnings of the initial zombie outbreak. In many ways it’s almost like the film was never made as it had no real theatrical release to speak of and many have never seen it. Still, I think it’s well worth a look and I liked it even though it’s not overly memorable! Worldwide the film grossed $4,600,000. on a budget of less than $2,000,000..
At the age of 68 it will be interesting to see what George can do with his next zombie outing. I know I’ll be there to see it!
I AM LEGEND PREQUEL OFFICIAL and DEPP lining up projects, including a fourth PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie!
According to Variety, Universal has officially green lit plans to produce a prequel to its huge worldwide hit I AM LEGEND. Will Smith and director Francis Lawrence have signed on for the project. As I wrote a few months ago when I heard this was the direction the studio was headed in, I’m not a big fan of the idea. While every movie is made to make money this, to me, is a total cash grab that puts the green before anything truly creative. Yes, Will Smith is the biggest box-office draw in movies today, but his character Robert Neville’s story has been told. I understand going backwards is the only way to keep Smith involved but, from a creative standpoint, the story just seems so limited. I believe the studio is totally underestimating the ‘end of the world concept’, and I think they could cast another actor or actress in the lead, set the film in Los Angeles, recreate the same circumstances of the original, and a mass audience would still show up. Of course I wouldn’t be writing this if the studio just went with the superior alternative ending on the special edition DVD where Neville survives at the end. Didn’t the studio know they would wind up in this position when they agreed on that theatrical cut! This is just another example of studio incompetence and an end result that I can’t get excited about. I think I’m going to watch THE OMEGA MAN!
According to the same trade, JOHNNY DEPP has cut a deal with Disney to reprise his role of Captain Jack Sparrow in a fourth PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN film and will also play TONTO in a LONE RANGER MOVIE. Depp appears to be solidifying his retirement fund since he’s also going to star in Tim Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND playing the Mad Hatter! While I like Depp as Sparrow, the last two installments were the worst of what cinema has to offer. Bloated epics that features an abundance of CGI effects, backed by no story to tell!
The marketing campaign has begun for Oliver Stone’s W. – this is the new coming attraction TV spot trailer. It’s obvious when you watch it that Stone clearly looks at the sitting U.S President, George W. Bush, as a buffoon since Josh Brolin’s performance has a surreal over-the-top quality that borders on parody. This will be an interesting watch indeed when the film hits theaters Oct 17.