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Tales from Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made? (Book)



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Tales from Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made? (click for larger image)Written by David Hughes

Published by Titan Books

The story is almost as old as Hollywood itself. Following the early movie business boom and the creation of huge, powerful studios, filmmaking stopped being strictly artistic and became big business. Anywhere big business and their money follow, complications are never far behind.

See if this sounds familiar: Someone has a GREAT idea for a movie. They sell that idea to a movie studio, who love it and promise their full support. Then, somewhere along the way, things go wrong. The studio wants changes. Directors or actors hired to the project want changes. Writers come in to rewrite and lose the original plot in the process. By the time it’s done, years have been spent, tons of money have been burned, and that original fantastic sure-thing idea is long gone.

This, my friends, is Development Hell.

Writer David Hughes is a screenwriter who has had more than a couple of his scripts wind up in Development Hell, and he uses that experience to launch into this book. In Tales from Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made?, Hughes collects over a dozen different stories of films that just went wrong. Some finally got made, most did not.

This book will be very entertaining to anyone who loves film, especially genre films. Perhaps unsurprisingly, few low-budget romantic comedies find their way to Development Hell. The big budget action, sci-fi, and horror films are what really attract the demons of DH in droves.

The stories here are frustrating to read because so often one individual’s arrogance or stupidity derails a film that we’d all love to see. Ridley Scott and H.R. Giger once attempted to make a big-budget sci-fi/horror tale called Isobar, best described as “Alien on a train”. The description sounds fantastic: hardcore violent alien action on a high-speed train that isn’t going to stop until it reaches its destination…if anyone survives the assault by the xenomorph (a new creation, not related to Scott’s Alien) and potential destruction of the train.

In this case the film died primarily due to personality conflicts and changes demanded by an ever-revolving slate of stars and directors. In these multi-year revisions the creature went from an alien to an evolutionary leap to a man-eating plant before the project died entirely, no longer resembling the original idea or in the hands of the original creators.

Perhaps the most frustrating and absurd story is the tale of Neil Gaiman’s opus The Sandman and its checkered trip to the screen, yet to be completed. In the process of trying to bring Gaiman’s adaptation of the classic superhero to life, completely insane concepts found their way into the tale. A group of teenagers holding a séance were to be the cause of Dream’s initial imprisonment. A Sandman in tights was to repeatedly fistfight with the Corinthian. A demand that it be “more like Batman” is repeated more than once and never in reference to the darker Nolan version.

The villain in this tale should come as no surprise to film fans: Jon Peters, legendary Hollywood producer. Anyone heard the tale of Kevin Smith’s involvement with Superman’s film comeback? The infamous
“giant mechanical spider” story? That was Peters. The last take by Peters had insisted that Dream have a love interest, that the Corinthian be like Dream but more powerful, and to kidnap and menace Dream’s girlfriend at one point so there can be a huge fight.

Anyone who’s read The Sandman knows this is laughable beyond all comprehension, and it’s this kind of sad comedy that fills Tales from Development Hell. We hear about the many troubles that lead to Lara Croft reaching the screen, how many times Lord of the Rings was attempted prior to Peter Jackson’s triumph, what happened to Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, even the story behind that damned nuclear fridge in Indiana Jones 4.

It’s a very entertaining read, but it might be a little thick for people not seriously invested in film. Most of our readers here are movie buffs so you guys will get a big kick out of this. Other, less knowledgeable film fans might wonder why some of the decisions told in the book are terrific or tragic.

If you love film, especially genre films, this is a book for you. I know I enjoyed it greatly, although many of the stories filled me with sadness for the sheer, unbridled awesomeness we’ll never get to see.

4 out of 5

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review



Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis

Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic


Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)



We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View



Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento

Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

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Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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