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Rest in Peace Don Barton

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Don BartonThe old school monster movie community has lost another of its own as Don Barton, director of the funky 70s horror classic ZAAT, has passed on. Read on for details.

The news came from the official ZAAT Facebook page, which posted the following message…

“It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of ZAAT director Don Barton today, Saturday, June 8, at the age of 84 following several months of declining health. Don was a loving husband, father of nine children, and grandfather of many more. He was a dear friend, a partner, and a businessman who was loved by many and liked by almost everyone. Ironically his passing came on the same day as a screening of his feature film ZAAT (1971) at Marineland as part of their 75th anniversary celebration and he was there with us in spirit tonight. It was an honor and a privilege to have known you Don and the lights at the old abandoned research lab will never shine as brightly again.”

We here at Dread Central would like to take this time to offer our sincerest of condolences to Don’s many friends, family, and constituents. Thank you, sir, for the monstrous memories. And also for a monster suit so zany we cannot help but smile every time we see it.

The Seventies Classic Zaat

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Blumhouse’s Halloween Wraps Filming

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It was just yesterday that Laurie Strode aka Jamie Lee Curtis wanted Halloween fans to know that we’ll be “very happy and VERY scared” by Blumhouse’s upcoming sequel.

And today we have news that we might be on track to be “very happy and VERY scared” this October as filming has wrapped completely on Blumhouse’s Halloween!

Co-producer Ryan Turek broke the news on Twitter and you can check out his tweet HERE.

Are you excited to know that filming has wrapped on Halloween? Let us know below!

Halloween is directed by David Gordon Green based on a script he wrote with Danny McBride. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode as does Nick Castle as Michael “The Shape” Myers. They are joined by Will Patton, Andi Matichak, and Judy Greer. Halloween creator John Carpenter is on board as executive producer of the film as well as the composer.

The anticipated release date is October 19, 2018.

Synopsis:

Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

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Troy Baker and Emily O’Brien Confirmed For Death Stranding

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While there’s still no release date for Hideo Kojima’s mysterious Death Stranding, there have been regular(-ish) updates for the sci-fi/horror game. These little tidbits act not only as seeds of information but also as additions to the overall mystery surrounding the game, which is basically what gets Kojima’s all hot and bothered.

Last night, actress Emily O’Brien posted a photo on her Instagram where she revealed that she has been working on Death Stranding alongside Norman Reedus and another actor who is renowned in the gaming community: Troy Baker. No description of either of their characters’ roles were revealed in the description, which leads to the “mystery” part of the story. With Reedus already being shown as the main character, Mads Mikkelsen as the villain, and Guillermo del Toro having a role of unknown size, I’m curious where Baker and O’Brien fit into the story. With side characters having just as much importance as mains in many games these days, you never know what kind of impact these actors will have on the greater story.

Baker is known for playing Joel in The Last of Us as well as Samuel Drake in Uncharted 4, Booker DeWitt in Bioshock: Infinite, and Bruce Wayne in Batman: The Telltale Series, as well as a great deal more. O’Brien has offered her voice in titles such as League of Legends, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, and Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul, as well as acted in film and TV.

Below is a fascinating dive into Death Stranding from my pal RagnarRox.

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Annihilation Review – A Fascinating, Gorgeous New Take on Body Horror

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Starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac

Written by Alex Garland

Directed by Alex Garland


Have you ever walked out of a theater and thought to yourself, “That was more than just a movie. That was an experience“? It’s only happened to me a handful of times, the last one I remember being Mad Max: Fury Road. Last night, that sensation washed over me as the credits for Annihilation began their crawl after a near two-hour runtime. I remained in my seat until every name slipped by before I found it within myself to stand up and leave the theater. All I could think was, “I’ve just witnessed something incredible.

An adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s first book in his The Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation follows Lena (Portman), an ex-soldier-turned-biologist professor at Johns Hopkins whose husband Kane (Isaac) has been missing for a year after leaving on a covert mission of which Lena has been able to get zero information about. When Kane mysteriously returns and almost immediately falls gravely ill, Lena finds herself in a secret government facility that is monitoring a strange and potentially cataclysmic phenomenon: a strange shimmering dome that appeared in a remote region after a meteorite landing, a dome that grows larger with each passing day. Realizing that the answer to her husband’s malady may very well lie within that area, Lena joins four other women as they embark on an expedition into what is called “Area X”. However, it’s quickly realized that nothing is quite what it seems to be and that the laws of nature no longer apply.

The majesty of Annihilation is the time in which it takes to build the story and to ramp up the tension. While it has no problem with frenetic scenes, the film moves at an almost poetic pace, every moment adding something to the overarching narrative. From showing the relationship between Lena and Kane to the interactions between the five women who venture into “Area X” to the action sequences, every part of the movie feels necessary. This is even seen in the climax of the film, which is a 10-minute scene that features almost zero dialogue and yet feels fraught with danger.

Visually, the movie is absolutely gorgeous. The jungle that takes up most of Area X is lush and beautiful. Crepuscular rays break through the leaves and tease a rainbow iridescence thanks to the “shimmer”. A wide variety of flowers impossibly blossom from the same source, a result of the genetic mutations occurring within the dome. Strange fungal patterns explode across the walls of abandoned buildings, their patterns a tumorous cornucopia of colors and textures. Even when the movie brings gore into the equation, it does so with an artist’s gaze. Without ruining the moment, there is a scene where the team comes across the body of a man from a previous expedition. For as macabre as the visual was, it was equally entrancing, calling to mind the strangely beautiful designs of the “clickers” from The Last of Us.

Each setting in the story has a visual style that sets it apart from one another but still feels connected. The governmental facility feels cold and sterile while the jungles of Area X are warm and verdant. As the team ventures further into the contaminated zone, we are taken to the beach next to the lighthouse that acts as “ground zero” for the mysterious event. Here we see trees made of crystal and bone-white roots clinging to the nautical beacon. In this 3rd act, we’re taken into the basement of the lighthouse, which can only be described as Giger-esque, with strange ribbed walls that feel like they pulsate with a life of their own.

The characters of Annihilation feel real and the exposition given doesn’t feel forced. When Lena is rowing a boat with Cass, the sharing of information feels like camaraderie, not awkward plot reveals. Additionally, no character is without their flaws. Even Lena has her own issues that burden her with guilt, making her journey into Area X all the more understandable. As the stress of the mission wears on these women, the seeds of distrust begin germinating into deadly situations that have very real consequences, including the appearance of a bear that would be right at home in the Silent Hill universe. Also, kudos to Garland for writing the film in such a way where the gender roles not only feel natural but are never focused on in a disingenuous manner.

Musically, Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow, who scored Garland’s previous film Ex Machina, create a soundtrack that is atmospheric, haunting, and hypnotizing. The music elevates the dreamy phantasmagoria of the film without overpowering any scene. Meanwhile, cinematographer Rob Hardy, who also worked on Ex Machina, helps create a film where nearly every frame is a work of art.

Those entering Annihilation expecting a clearly defined sci-fi/horror offering will be disappointed. There is certainly a great deal of both to be had but the movie doesn’t want to offer something fleeting. Instead, it uses those genres as a foundation to create a film that will stay with viewers long after they leave the theater. When you get to the core of Annihilation, it’s a body horror film that pays homage to the work of David Cronenberg while carving an entirely new path of its own. Just don’t expect it to hold your hand and answer all of its mysteries. Some questions are left for you to see through on your own.

I do not say this lightly but I truly believe that Alex Garland has offered audiences one of the best genre films in recent years.

  • Annihilation
5.0

Summary

Annihilation is a bold, gorgeous, and stunning melting pot of horror, sci-fi, and drama, culminating in one of the most fascinating films I’ve seen this decade.

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