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San Diego Comic-Con 2012: The Vampire Diaries Roundtable Interviews Shed Some Light on Season 4

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The Vampire Diaries at San Diego Comic-Con 2012Here’s one more roundtable from San Diego Comic-Con (the last one for me thankfully!), this time with the executive producer and stars of The CW’s “The Vampire Diaries”. They shed a little light on what we can expect after the game-changing Season 3 finale; just beware of a few spoilers!

Things started off with the one person in the group who could actually tell us something about Season 4, executive producer Julie Plec. As she also told the folks who made it into the Ballroom 20 panel for the show earlier that day, Matt Davis has a clause in his contract for his new series “Cult” that allows him to appear again as Alaric, and we could very well be seeing him before Katherine returns since she won’t show her face until Klaus is no longer a threat. What we can expect to see no matter who else is around is a new dynamic between the Salvatore brothers now that Elena is a vampire. She’s a lot more pragmatic about the change than they are, and Damon and Stefan are not on the same page.

As for why now was the right time for Elena’s transformation, which happened much quicker in the books, Plec said they joked about it in the first season, and then in the second season it felt too soon – she hadn’t grown up enough. Now, after three seasons, the character has come into her own and “earned this move.” The writers feel rejuvenated and excited, too. To keep up the fast pace of the show, they make sure every scene matters; 95% of the scenes they shoot directly lead to the next part of the story.

Another part of what keeps “TVD” fresh is its constant influx of new characters, and coming in Season 4 is a hunter who isn’t really in it to protect the secret that vampire exist. He’s more a shoot first, ask questions later kind of guy. He surprises the other residents of Mystic Falls who cross his path with how hardcore he really is. For his part, Jeremy is worried about how he can protect Elena and still learn more tricks of the trade himself. He can still see ghosts, but that’s not his focus right now.

Might there be a chance of reversing what happened to Elena? Plec says the first episode, which begins just a few hours after the end of Season 3, exhausts every possibility to change her back, but she’s a vampire now. And even if she’s a potential danger to her brother, they have no plans to separate her and Jeremy. We can expect Klaus to play a role sooner rather than later, and while Matt continues being the only “ordinary” one in the group, he actually becomes quite “extraordinary” because of it.

What about Bonnie? Well, per usual, Bonnie has tapped into some dark places that are not so good to tap into. She’s ended up on her own with no one to look to. Plec said we’ll learn about who might have taught Esther, the Original Witch; she wants to introduce a guardian/guide in the witch world.

The usual question of how long she envisions “The Vampire Diaries” lasting came up, and Plec said they look at it as a six-year show, mostly because that’s when everyone’s contracts come up.

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: The Vampire Diaries Roundtable Interviews Shed Some Light on Season 4

Next we had a few minutes with Steven R. McQueen, who said Jeremy may have imploded when he realized he contributed to the death of his last remaining family member, but now he’s learning to fight back. He has weight on his shoulders, but he’s not going to give up and will do anything to get his strength up.

Will he maybe have a new love interest this year? McQueen said Jeremy and Bonnie have “unfinished business”, but he’s “preoccupied.”

After McQueen dashed off, we were treated to the dynamic duo of Michael Trevino and Zach Roerig. Trevino said right now he’s just playing Tyler playing Klaus and having fun with it. What he’s most looking forward to in the new season is graduation time because it means everyone will be together.

Meanwhile Roerig’s Matt is dealing with guilt mirrored with love for Elena for giving up her life for him. He most wants to see Matt and Tyler rekindle their bond as “original Mystic Falls boys.”

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: The Vampire Diaries Roundtable Interviews Shed Some Light on Season 4

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: The Vampire Diaries Roundtable Interviews Shed Some Light on Season 4

Paul Wesley joined us after the “boys” left, and while he admitted to missing his “ripper” side, he said that he had his dark ride in Season 3 and is ready for something different. Although, he mused, it might be fun for Stefan to show Elena the dangers of being a vamp and for the two of them to go on adventures together. But that’s not likely even though Elena did technically “choose” him. She now has this turn of events to hold against him so she turns to Damon. When it came up that someone with supernatural strength could certainly have saved both Matt and Elena at the same time, Wesley agreed. “Ask Julie Plec,” he said, laughing, knowing our time with her was already up.

Finally we got to hear from Elena herself when we were next graced with Nina Dobrev’s lovely presence. She’s more than ready to tackle the challenge of adding yet another facet to her character; as she said, when you do a show for this long, you need change. As much as Elena was evolving, she needed to evolve to this next step. It’s painful, though. At first she’s sad, kind of like going through puberty. She doesn’t expect to have much trouble differentiating between vamp Elena and vamp Katherine. They’re different people so have different thought processes. While the natural tendency when playing a vampire is to be a badass, she’s trying not to be too much of one.

As for what happens when she remembers what Damon previously compelled her to forget, well, of course it just makes her love him more for not telling her.

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: The Vampire Diaries Roundtable Interviews Shed Some Light on Season 4

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: The Vampire Diaries Roundtable Interviews Shed Some Light on Season 4

Which brings us to the devilish Damon, or rather Ian Somerhalder. At this point in the roundtables, we were running over time-wise, but being the gracious guy he is, Somerhalder gathered all 30 or so of us journalists who were left around him (wait til you see the picture below of all our recording devices on the table) and answered questions for a good 10 minutes longer.

He described Elena as a phenomenally solid human being – a beacon of light – while Damon and Stefan are highly volatile. Who’s to say when she transforms she’s not going to become just as volatile. Now they have years ahead of them; the yin and yang is that she chose Stefan, but when she gets tired of him, she may turn to Damon.

It’ll be rocky for him and Stefan; Damon is pissed at his brother for turning an 18-year-old girl. But Damon is not going to be pining – it’s an “oak” season. (laughs) For two years he tried to be everything Elena wanted, but it didn’t work. Now it’s “go fuck yourself.” Now he has a sense of self-worth. Absolutely we’ll see the darker Damon again, the guy who thinks what other people think and has the balls to say it.

But of course it’s not really over. Now he can relate with and connect to Elena in a different way. And now that she remembers their true history, that adds another layer. It’s “tragic and sad.”

And he’s also sad that Matt Davis and Alaric are gone. He said it’s really strange not having Matt on set. It won’t be easy for Damon – the loss of any friend isn’t easy, and Alaric was his only friend in the world.

We ended our chat with Ian’s opinion on what’s in store for Matt, who’s kind of responsible for everything right now: “Matt’s going to have a tough year.

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: The Vampire Diaries Roundtable Interviews Shed Some Light on Season 4

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: The Vampire Diaries Roundtable Interviews Shed Some Light on Season 4

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Thanksgiving Flesh Feast: A Cannibal Holocaust Retrospective

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“Why ban films? If you don’t want to go watch something, don’t go. Don’t spend your money to watch it. To me it’s against your civil liberties. Censorship is against your human rights. It just takes a critic to exaggerate and say the film is over the top, it’s gruesome and full of terrible violence.” Words from legendary cinematographer Roberto Forges Davanzati on the special edition Blu-Ray of Cannibal Holocaust.

As you celebrate this holiday of stuffing your face full of delicious gooey goodies and cooked meats, let us look back at a feast for the ages that was buried in lawsuits, censorship, exploitation and even jail time for its creator. Cannibal Holocaust, one of the most infamous video nasties of all time, is not only one of the most gruesome and horrifying collection of images put to celluloid but also, in its own way, one of the most beautiful. Often times it’s notoriety as a horrid exploitation film overshadows the artistry that crafted it and the true message behind it.

First off, let’s look at the fact that this is truly the first found footage film. Its narrative is about four young documentarians who set out into the Amazon into an area dubbed “The Green Inferno” to find and document several primitive tribes of cannibals. While this narrative is the backbone of the movie opening up the film, this footage is not shown until the latter half. Professor Harold Munroe is assigned by the television studio that employed the documentarians to go into the Green Inferno himself to see if he can unravel the mystery of the youth’s disappearance or obtain the footage they filmed. Today we have found footage movies left and right but it’s rare we get a movie within a movie in this style.

Davanzati has talked about his different shooting styles for the time on the Blu-Ray for the film. Munroe’s section of the film was shot on 35MM film while the “found footage” shot by the documentarians is shot on 16MM film, giving a much grainier and dirty look to their footage. Not only that, but since the four youths within the film at all times had two 16MM cameras operating, Davanzati would often film the two camera men within the film and then switch around showing the point of view of each camera man within the found footage, which he states helped edit the movie as they shot it. The artistic decision to have two narratives wrap around each other like this are perfect antithesis to each other as Munroe’s footage shows a completely opposite depiction of the cannibals compared to the documentarian’s footage. This style informed a generation and still does, but has never been stylistically approached the same way.

Some may argue that regardless of the artistic vision and groundbreaking filmmaking style of both Davanzati and director Ruggero Deodato that it doesn’t matter, because what good is beautiful footage of despicable trash? How dare they film something so atrocious? Actor Robert Kerman can maybe answer that in a quote from an interview on the Cannibal Holocaust Blu-Ray. “What’s the difference between Cannibal Holocaust and Schindler’s List? Or the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan?” The world is full of horrible atrocious things and sometimes we don’t like to acknowledge them. To simply not acknowledge them would seem an injustice to the victims. In this case, what may offend might be the same reason audiences were offended about the Universal Monsters: the fact that perhaps we are the villains. Perhaps those victimized within Cannibal Holocaust are the titular cannibals.

Deodato opens the film with a reporter speaking about how far the world has come and how advanced we are as a civilization, that it is strange that indigenous tribes still exist in the jungles of the Green Inferno. All the while, during this news report on the savagery of those tribes, Deodato cleverly shows us the jungles of the modern world as the imagery put to this news cast foreshadows the film’s true intentions. It would be easy to assume the “Holocaust” in Cannibal Holocaust refers to the humans devoured by cannibals, when in reality, the holocaust is the devastation inflicted upon the cannibal tribes by the so-called “normal” humans. Deodato cleverly misleads the viewer showing off all-American kids as the documentarians. He quickly follows the opening with a scene of the Yacumo tribe devouring a human body as the Colombian soldiers gun them down and capture one of their tribe. It’s a brutal scene that depicts the Yacumo as monsters.

As Professor Munroe ventures into the Green Inferno with his Yacumo captive and guide, Chaco, it is discovered that the Yacumo tribe itself has had some hardship and pain. They are the more peaceful of the tribes who simply thrive and survive. Their Yacumo captive who was found devouring a human was doing so as part of a ceremonial practice to ward off evil spirits. Befriending the tribe, they venture deeper to find the two warring tribes that scare even the Yacumo: the Yanomamo (Tree People) and the Shamatari (Swamp People). While the Shamatari are depicted throughout as vile and dangerous, the Yamamomo befriend the professor and Chaco due to the pair aiding them against the former tribe.

Munroe and the Yanomamo friendship gives way to a very beautiful scene in the movie. Munroe disrobes himself completely and swims in the river naked with a group of Yanomamo women. There is nothing sexual about the scene, only curiosity and playful ignorant bliss. This sense of peace is elated by the score of Riz Ortolani, which permeates the entire film with melancholy melodies and themes of religious experiences. This scene in particular is boosted amazingly by his score.

Munroe’s journey is the audience’s point of view where we watch in horror and wonder at what these “cannibals” are capable of but, upon venturing further for ourselves with respect towards the tribes, we find perhaps there is more to these people than monstrosities. There are definitely horrible things the Yacumo and the Yamamomo commit, but our eyes are slightly opened as to why.

Enter the found footage aspect of the film, which is the core of Deodato’s message. The young documentarians headed by Alan are the true villains of the piece. While the indigenous peoples within idolize their gods and ways, this crew of documentarians only idolize the gods of entertainment and visceral mind rape. What’s worse is the discovery of the studio behind them condoning their efforts in order to get people to watch. The found footage approach descends into madness as Alan and his crew are responsible for the Yacumo’s problems that Munroe discovered when he arrived. We see them burning down the village and even having sex on the ashes of their homes in a horrifying shot that pans out to show the Yacumo watching in sorrow as they are huddled by the river for warmth. As the television executives watch this footage unfold it is stated, “The more you rape their senses, the happier they are.” It’s disgusting.

The footage goes on and gets progressively worse as Alan and his crew commit horrible acts of rape and violence that parallels the natives actions. But while the natives at least have a misguided sense of purpose, there is none for the documentarians. They set up a girl on a spike after they rape her just to have something visceral to film. “Watch it Alan, I’m shooting.” Alan has a smile on his face from the atrocity he’s committed, their excitement paralleled by Ortolani’s score. This scene plays on the typical thought of things we don’t understand being weird. As the filmmakers have no concept of what makes the Yanomamo tick or of their religious rites, they just create something ghastly. Because their audience will not understand it, they lump it in with their actual spiritual and cultural beliefs, making it all seem bereft of rhyme or reason, confusing audiences just to entertain.

“Keep rolling, we’re gonna get an Oscar for this!” The final act of found footage is more intense and more satisfying than any you can see. As one of the cameramen dies, they keep filming, that prize in their eyes with the camera lens as a separation from what’s before them. Their friend is no longer a person but a spectacle to be shot as he’s torn limb from limb and prepared to be eaten by the cannibals for their transgression. Who is worse, those that created the situation or those simply reacting to it? The Yanomamo stand triumphant over the interloper and, as stated in the beginning of the film, they eat him ceremonially in order to keep out the evil spirits of the white man. Each is taken down and each filmed. Debts paid in blood to the cannibals and
the white man’s gods of entertainment. The found footage has all been viewed as Munroe and the rest of the executives walk off, “I wonder who the real cannibals are?” 

True, there are very vile things depicted in this film. Rape, animal cruelty, extreme violence. It is definitely not for the squeamish. I, myself, cannot stand the animal violence as it shouldn’t be in the film and is lingered on for far too long. However, each scene of extremism beyond those shots serves a purpose in the film, juxtaposing the actions of the protagonists and antagonists, often times blurring the lines of those roles.

Watch this film with an open mind and a filmmaker’s thought process. You’ll see the amazing direction accompanied by brilliant and, at the time, never-before-seen cinematography. The score elevates the film with its beauty against the ugliness of the visuals. While the actions of many of the characters are disgusting, you have to admit the level of excellence each actor gives in their portrayal of these characters, especially the tribes.

We must not forget in these dark times not to judge the cultures of others before we truly understand them as people.

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I Already Have a Dog But Now I Want a Baby Dinosaur

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The first trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the sequel to 2015’s Jurassic World, is rumored to be attached to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Since that film is going to be coming out in less than a month, it’s no surprise that the marketing campaign for the dino-filled trailer is already starting and today it kicks off with a six-second teaser that is as adorable as you can get!

In the teaser, Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady is petting a baby velociraptor, which coos and twitters in the cutest of fashions. Is there anything else going on? Nah. Does something else need to happen? Nope. The movie already has me sold.

Directed by J.A. Bayona (When a Monster Calls), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom also stars Bryce Dallas Howard, B.D. Wong, and Toby Jones. However, the biggest and most important star of the film will be the return of Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, who is, in my humble opinion, the best character in the franchise, besting even the T-rex that seemingly cannot die.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will evolve into theaters on June 22, 2018.

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John Landis’ Rejected Pitch for American Werewolf 2 Was Brilliant

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If you’re anything like us then you consider writer-director John Landis’ horror-comedy An American Werewolf in London to be one of the best f*cking movies of all-time.

Horror (or comedy), or not.

But did you know that Landis was asked back in 1991 to make a sequel to his original classic? Neither did I. But he was, and his pitch for the sequel was amazing.

“I was asked to do a sequel by PolyGram in 1991,” Landis told Digital Spy. “I entertained the idea for a little bit and then came up with something that I liked and wrote a first draft of the script.

“The movie was about the girl that the boys talk about at the beginning of the movie, Debbie Klein. She gets a job in London as a literary agent and while she’s there, starts privately investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Jack and David.

“The conceit was that during the time in the first film where Jenny goes to work and David is pacing around the apartment, he actually wrote Debbie Klein a letter. It was all to do with this big secret that David had never told Jack that he had a thing with her.

“She tracks down Dr. Hirsch, who tells her that Alex now lives in Paris because she was so traumatized by what happened. She went back to the Slaughtered Lamb and everyone is still there! I think the only changes were a portrait of Charles and Diana where the five-pointed star used to be and darts arcade game instead of a board.

“It’s then when she speaks to Sgt McManus, the cop from the first movie who didn’t die, that she finds out that Jenny is still in London. She calls her and leaves an answer phone message, which we then reveal is being listened to by the skeletal corpses of Jack and David, watching TV in Alex’s apartment!

“The big surprise at the end was that Alex was the werewolf. It was pretty wild. The script had everybody in it from the first movie – including all the dead people!”

But then Landis adds:

“I gave the script to Michael Kuhn and he loathed it! He absolutely hated it and was actually pretty insulting about it. Clearly, he would have hated the script for the first movie because, like that, it was funny and scary – and if anything, a little wackier.”

Is it just me or does this sound like a perfect sequel to An American Werewolf in London? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think below!

Synopsis:

David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne), two American college students, are backpacking through Britain when a large wolf attacks them. David survives with a bite, but Jack is brutally killed. As David heals in the hospital, he’s plagued by violent nightmares of his mutilated friend, who warns David that he is becoming a werewolf. When David discovers the horrible truth, he contemplates committing suicide before the next full moon causes him to transform from man to murderous beast.

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