Guest Post: Revisiting the Brilliantly Creepy Jacob's Ladder by Gary Scott Beatty - Dread Central
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Guest Post: Revisiting the Brilliantly Creepy Jacob’s Ladder by Gary Scott Beatty

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According to a casting call we happened upon on Backstage.com, the Jacob’s Ladder redux will be filming in Atlanta, Georgia, for the next few days (7/31-8/4); and it should still be heading our way sometime this year. Michael Ealy and Nicole Beharie star in the dramatic thriller centered on a Vietnam War veteran who, plagued by hallucinations and flashbacks, begins to fall apart as the world around him morphs and twists into disturbing images.

We can only hope director David M. Rosenthal’s new version lives up to its predecessor, and our guest contributor Gary Scott Beatty (author of graphic novel Wounds) strongly agrees, particular in relation to the original’s creepy horror elements…

With the new Jacob’s Ladder movie now wrapping up production, I took another look at one of my favorite horror/thrillers and found it even more brilliantly creepy than I remembered.

Jacob’s Ladder (1990) is similar to the 1970s Giallo films I studied to write my Wounds graphic novel because it uses disorientation to keep viewers interested. Useless information is dropped into the plot, but we viewers are compelled to pay attention because we come to feel anything could be important.

Much of the creepy comes from everyday encounters we wouldn’t find the least sinister if not for director Adrian Lyne’s off-kilter camerawork. He uses extreme close-ups, quick cuts, and shadowy figures at the fringes that might (or might not) have significance to pull us through a movie with several possible outcomes.

And, of course, God is a chiropractor.

Jacob’s Ladder follows Jacob, a Vietnam War vet trying to move beyond his war experiences. Questions begin right away. Is life so spooky because that’s how Jacob feels, or is something really going on? Is there some conspiracy involving the government, aliens, or the supernatural; or are we perceiving the breakdown of Jacob’s sanity?

Every time I think I have something figured out (I’ve been reading mysteries all my life; I’m pretty good at putting pieces together, writer Bruce Joel Rubin pulls his plot threads a little more askew.

Tim Robbins’ portrayal of this veteran who can’t quite pull it together is compelling. He’s such a nice guy and he’s been through so much, we want to help him figure it out. But, like Jacob himself, we can’t seem to separate fact from dream from fantasy.

The big reveal near the end, and the ending itself, left me satisfied, thinking I knew what was going on. Then I had a “shower moment” the next day, when my mind pulled out more questions and answers. It’s that kind of movie.

Can remake director David Rosenthal keep our minds engaged, or will the new movie be an action/horror flick without substance? Many remakes fall short of brilliance, and 1990’s Jacob’s Ladder still sits on many critics’ favorites lists. More violence, more car chases, and more CGI might help a new movie sell more tickets. Personally, I enjoy horror I need to think through.

Almost certainly the length will be shortened. If you decide to take on the 1990 film, be warned it clocks in at a whopping 113 minutes. When a slow-burn movie fails, it is torturous for me, but Lyne’s Ladder keeps moving and, for me, didn’t seem overly long.

The big question about the remake is yet to be answered. Is God still a chiropractor?

Graphic novel Wounds is now available on Amazon and Comixology. For more from Gary Scott Beatty, visit him on Twitter and Facebook.

Wounds Synopsis:
Wounds throws us into a world where nothing is beyond doubt, except a father’s concern for his wife and daughter. If you enjoy that “What th-?” factor in graphic novels, you’ll enjoy Wounds.

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Trailer Takes Us DOWN A DARK HALL With AnnaSophia Robb and Uma Thurman

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It was just the other day that we shared your first look at producer Stephenie Meyer (Twilight) and director Rodrigo Cortés’ (Buried) adaptation of I Know What You Did Last Summer author Lois Duncan’s  Down a Dark Hall

The film stars AnnaSophia Robb (The Reaping), Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan), Taylor Russell (Netflix’s Lost in Space) and Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction). And today we have the film’s trailer and poster!

You can check out the poster to the right and the trailer below and then make sure to let us know what you think below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Down a Dark Hall is directed by Rodrigo Cortés from a screenplay by Mike Goldbach and Chris Sparling based on the book by Lois Duncan and stars AnnaSophia Robb, Isabelle Fuhrman, Victoria Moroles, Noah Silver, Taylor Russell, Rosie Day, and Uma Thurman. It’s produced by Stephenie Meyer, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen, Meghan Hibbett, and Adrián Guerra.

The film hits theaters, On Demand, and iTunes August 17th.

Synopsis:

Kit (Robb), a difficult young girl, is sent to the mysterious Blackwood Boarding School when her heated temper becomes too much for her mother to handle. Once she arrives at Blackwood, Kit encounters eccentric headmistress Madame Duret (Thurman) and meets the school’s only other students, four young women also headed down a troubled path. While exploring the labyrinthine corridors of the school, Kit and her classmates discover that Blackwood Manor hides an age-old secret rooted in the paranormal.

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Tom Six Reveals “Vile” THE ONANIA CLUB…So What?

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Tom Six of The Human Centipede fame is coming back to theaters with The Onania Club, a film he promises will be, “…one of the most vile, inhumane movie experiences of all time.” IndieWire revealed the news, which adds that the film is produced by Tom Six and Ilona Six through Six Entertainment Company.

Details are being kept secret for now but the site says Six will bring a psychological thriller that will feature, “…mostly strong female characters” and that it will, “…definitely pass the Bechdel test with flying colors.” Starring in the film are Jessica Morris, Darcy DeMoss, Deborah Twiss, Karen Strassman, and Flo Lawrence.

Let me try and gather all my thoughts here because this is hitting some notes that I’m frankly not really feeling. I’ll try to organize this as best I can.

…[a] vile, inhumane movie experience…
If that’s what Tom Six is aiming for, my interest has already dropped by a huge percentage. I didn’t see The Human Centipede in theaters but I saw it after it hit home video. It wasn’t a gross movie but it had a gross premise, which I honestly thought made it more interesting. Then came along The Human Centipede 2, which I did see in theaters. I found it to be a brilliant response to those who were disappointed by the lack of vomit-inducing moments in the first film and who demanded it be more grotesque. Once they got it, they felt like it had gone too far, which made me want to point and say, “Trust filmmakers. They very often make decisions because they know how to do it right.” That being said, I think it’s a bad, unpleasant, mean-spirited movie. I never bothered with The Human Centipede 3 because of shockingly bad reviews and even worse word-of-mouth from friends and the horror community.

If Six’s goal is to create a movie experience that will haunt and disgust audiences, then my immediate concern is that there is no story to back up the intention. Hell, the announcement is more focused on creating a spectacle than it is on letting people know what the film is actually about. It’s Marketing 101 and as a horror fan for my entire life, I find it almost offensive that the idea of “gross first, everything else second” is being pushed in the initial blitz.

I have no problems whatsoever with gore, viscera, or shocking scenes. Martyrs, I Saw The Devil, The Thing, and the like are all great examples of movies that push a lot of envelopes but never fail to have fascinating concepts backing everything up. There is purpose in their horror. There is method to their madness. So far, Six isn’t inspiring much faith that The Onania Club will walk down that kind of path.

…[it will] pass the Bechdel test with flying colors…
The Bechdel Test, for those who don’t know, is a test within films that sees if there are two, or more, women talk to each other about something other than men. That’s it. Two women in a coffee shop spend 30 seconds talking about a book? Your movie passes. A group of teenage girls discuss what they’re going to wear at an upcoming high school dance? Pass. Ronda Rousey and Michelle Rodriguez trade barbs before beating each other senseless. Check.

While noble in intention, the Bechdel Test is a shockingly low barometer for movies to be considered women-friendly. It doesn’t ask for nuance or depth. It doesn’t set any expectations for emotion or drive. If Six thinks that his movie is a landmark simply because it passes the Bechdel Test, he clearly doesn’t know that horror has been doing this for a long time. And from reading about Bree Olson’s character in The Human Centipede 3 (the only woman in the IMDb credit list), and taking into account the female characters of the first two films in that series, I think one can understand my lack of faith when it comes to Six and women in his films.

I am fully aware of how negative and critical I sound here and I really do hope that I’m going to be proven wrong. Every film should be allowed the chance to stand on its own merits. Hopefully The Onania Club will see Six give us a film that will generate interesting conversation for years to come. But until more is revealed, my expectations are very low.

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Ben Hanscom Has Been Cast in IT: CHAPTER 2

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Some fun news out of Deadline as the site has reported that Jay Ryan (Mary Kills People) has been cast as the adult Ben Hanscom in It: Chapter 2. He joins Jessica Chastain, Andy Bean, James Ransone, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader, who will be playing Beverly, Stanley, Eddie, Bill, and Richie, respectively. Bill Skarsgard will also be back as Pennywise.

Andy Muschietti will be directing based on a script by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle: Creation) with a planned release date of September 6, 2019, almost two years to the day after the release of the first film.

It was a massive success, earning just over $700 million globally against a $35 million budget. That film starred Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Nicholas Hamilton, Owen Teague, Javier Botet, and Steven Williams.

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