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Robert Kirkman, James Cameron, Eli Roth Address Politics, Race & Gender In ‘AMC Visionaries’ — TCA

As part of the AMC Visionaries series, EP Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead) sat down at TCA to discuss Heroes and Villains–his new six-part one-hour docuseries which will look at the history and inspiration behind iconic comic books. Alongside him was Eli Roth (Hostel), whose own Visionaries series Eli Roth’s History of Horror was just announced, while James Cameron joined in via satellite. His docuseries James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction will look at how sci-fi has addressed the questions of humanity through the ages.

Kirkman said his series will have something for everyone – even the most educated comic book enthusiast. “There are elements to the stories that you think you know,” he said, “that we’ve uncovered different aspects of – even our researchers found things that I don’t know about. I think if you’re a die-hard comic book fan, you’re still going to get things from the show that you didn’t know about.”

One thing that has always seemed lacking in the comic book sci-fi genre is gender equality. Kirkman said. “We’re actually doing two episodes that focus on that specifically, we’re doing one about the creation of Wonder Woman, which was created by William Moulton Marsten. A lot of people don’t know that he had a polygamous relationship with two women and those two women were very instrumental in the creation of Wonder Woman, so we do a deep dive into who they were as people.”

Cameron will also address societal changes through the lens of sci-fi he said. “I think the role of women in science fiction has been varied. We’re not going to do specific episodes [on that], we’re doing six episodes and they’re themed around space travel and dark futures, dystopias, time travel, but throughout it, we want to have this thread of analyzing the interaction between science fiction and society. Science fiction traditionally in the 30s and 40s was by and for men and women writers had to have nom de plumes. But in the 60s and 70s science fiction became a forerunner in breaking down social barriers whether it was around race or gender.”

Kirkman will also deal with racial diversity within the comic book world. “We’re also doing another episode called ‘The Color of Comics’, ” he said, “which explores the history of black characters and the lack of black characters in the comic book industry, which touches on the creation of Black Panther.”

“With regard to horror, you wouldn’t have horror without Mary Shelley or Frankenstein,” Roth added, saying he would also discuss racial diversity within the horror genre.We sadly lost George Romero,” he said, “but at the height of the Civil Rights movement, he put an African American as the lead of Night of the Living Dead and at the end of the movie he’s shot by a bunch of rednecks, not for the color of his skin, but because they think he’s a zombie, but obviously you can read into it the implications of that.”

Roth also said the popularity of themes within the horror genre are usually a reflection of society’s concerns at that given time. “Get Out is a movie that gives everyone a safe context to talk about racial tensions,” he said. “It’s such a great film. It’s really resonating with people”

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SundanceTV Picks Up ‘Unspeakable’ Miniseries, Sets ‘Top of the Lake: China Girl’ Premiere Date — TCA

SundanceTV has announced the eight-part drama Unspeakable, focusing on a tainted blood supply in Canada, and set dates for the three-night series Top of the Lake: China Girl, a detective story with a prominent cast.

Unspeakable was created by Robert C. Cooper (Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis), who will also serve as showrunner and EVP. The project is based on two non-fiction books. The drama is produced by Cooper’s Mezo Entertainment and will be filmed in Canada in 2018. It will be broadcast on CBC in Canada and SundanceTV in the US, with AMC Studios managing worldwide distribution outside of Canada.

Top of the Lake: China Girl, a detective story starring Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones) and Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies). The series is co-written by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee, with Campion and Ariel Kleiman co-directing. It is produced by See-Saw Films for BBC Two in association with BBC First and Foxtel in Australia, BBC UKTV in New Zealand, SundanceTV/Hulu in the US, ARTE in France and BBC Worldwide. The series will bow Sunday September 10 and run through Tuesday, September 12.

SundanceTV has also scheduled the four-hour documentary Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders, a look back at the infamous killings that spawned Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, as recalled by relatives, family friends, townspeople and law enforcement. The series is an AMC Studios, RadicalMedia and Third Eye Motion Picture Company production. It will air on Saturday, November 18 and Sunday, November 19.

Rounding out the programming, SundanceTV has slated the psychological thriller Liar, a six-part series that examines a series of volatile accusations after a seemingly innocent date. The series was created, written and produced by BAFTA and Harry and Jackson Williams of Two Brothers Pictures (The Missing). It was coproduced with ITV and All3 Media, and stars Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) and Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four). The series bows Wednesday, September 27.

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Scientists Get Fooled by Fake Star Wars Midi-Chlorian Study

It appears as if some scientific journals will post just about anything these days, but for a price. In fact, it’s pretty easy to do, so easy that a Star Wars Prequel meme-filled paper by “George McLucas” and “Annette Kin” was published by multiple scientific journals who posted the paper about midi-chlorians, aka “feeling the force,” and deemed it important scientific information. All of this is possible thanks to what are known as “predatory journals” who were quick to post the new scientific findings after receiving payment and without proper peer review.

The fake study was set up as a sting by anonymous blogger Neuroskeptic as a way to highlight how fake journals can harm the integrity of the Open Access publishing movement, by taking advantage of a loophole as Nerdist reports. Neuroskeptic told Gizmodo in an email that, “The goal was to see whether journals would publish a manuscript that, while seemingly scientific, was actually a joke. I didn’t want to just submit nonsense (like a computer-generated text), or a bad paper, but rather something that was verifiably based on fiction (i.e. Star Wars).” Out of the 9 suspect journals that Neuroskeptic uploaded the journals to, 3 actually posted it and one asked for $360 for doing so.

Most of Neuroskeptic’s article is copy and pasted from the mitochondria Wikipedia page except wherever the word mitochondria appeared, he changed it to midi-chlorian. He then went on to rearrange the text so that it didn’t look like plagiarism and then as an added bonus, he used all of text from the tragedy of Darth Plagueis, the wise. The Star Wars Prequel meme is just about everywhere these days and now it’s even being passed off as legitimate science since one of three Open Access journals still has the article posted in all of its Prequel meme glory.

In the Star Wars universe, midi-chlorians were intelligent, microscopic life-forms that served as organelles within all living cells, existing in a symbiotic relationship with the beings that they inhabited. The midi-chlorians also comprised a collective consciousness among themselves. The microscopic life forms reside in all living things, but tend to be a lot higher in the Jedi. The magnitude of the midi-chlorian count served as a measure of one’s potential in the Force and in fact, the midi-chlorians could be influenced by the force and even be able to create new life, which is a technique that Darth Plaugueis developed.

Leave it to Star Wars Prequel memes to point out the fallacies and injustices of the open-access “predatory journals.” Though the movies were absolute crap, they can still serve a purpose in the world outside of ruining childhoods and boring viewers to tears. There were some good journals that actually reviewed the paper and actually sent feedback in the form of more Prequel memes, so at least 5 out of the 9 selected in the sting by Neuroskeptic are on the up and up. The stock in Prequel memes is sure to rise after this stunt.

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‘Versailles’ Season 2: New Characters And “The Darker Side” Of The Story — TCA

With Season 2 of Ovation’s Versailles approaching, the TCA panel saw the introduction of two new characters, Princess Palentine and Madame Agathe. We also heard about the deliciously dark turn the tale of the French court will take, and learned that the show was originally developed in French.

In Season 2, King Louis XIV has asked his wife Queen Marie-Therese (Elisa Lasowski) and mistress Montespan (Anna Brewster) to pick out a new wife for his now-single brother Prince Philippe (Alexander Vlahos) and they’ve selected Princess Palentine, played by British newcomer Jessica Clark.

“It was a lot of fun because she was a lot of fun,” Clark said of the role. “In her letters you can see this ferocious, incredible, brilliant woman who didn’t want to hold back. Being able to take on a character who really existed and really was that wild and brilliant was a complete joy as an actress.”

Then we saw a clip of Suzanne Clement as new character Madame Agathe, a poisoner and sorcerer. “She’s not a real character,” Clement said. “I think she was based on two real poisoners who existed. One of them was called a serial killer on wikipedia. She might be a feminist in a way. She’s a woman who lives her life completely outside of society’s rules. I think she’s prepared to try just about anything to see how far she can go.”

Producer Aude Albano described Agathe as a “very opportunistic businesswoman, but behind that also as she is a defender of the weak and the oppressed. She has no limits and she’s afraid of no one and nothing and that’s what makes her so dangerous.”

Of the direction of Season 2, Albano said, “I guess now the danger comes from within, so really Season 2 is about discovering the darker side of Versailles, and what happens when you lock a bunch of ambitious, selfish, and self-obsessed people under one roof. They start to kill each other. And that’s basically what happens. The poisons are spreading, they’re used to get rid of a rival or an unwanted husband. It’s about the dive into this world and obviously how the light will move back to the palace.”

In dealing with a historical drama, the concern so often lies with factual accuracy. As Albano put it, “From the start it was clear for us we were not trying to do a documentary about Versailles, we were making a drama — and drama means fiction. We have to feed towards this conflict with interesting characters. We also have to be as historically accurate as possible.” But then what’s reassuring about attempting this kind of drama is, Albano said, “who knows what happened behind closed doors? No one knows actually, and that’s where we see the space for fiction.”

Originally, the show was going to be more in line with history. Specifically, it was going to be a French language project–that is until money got in the way. “The show was at first developed in French for a bit more than a year,” Albano said. “Soon we realized with Canal+ that when you do a show with Versailles you need to have Versailles on screen, and to have Versailles on screen you need to have a lot of money. You have to have the show in English–that’s the only way we can have enough money to produce the show.”

Versailles Season 2 premieres on Ovation September 30.

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Cop and a Half 2 Trailer: Best or Worst Movie of the Year?

Henry Winkler’s Cop and a Half showed up in theaters in April 1993, forever changing the landscape of the buddy cop genre. And now, 24 years later, the sequel Cop and a Half: New Recruit is finally here to retain some of the glory of that first movie. The original starred Burt Reynolds as Lieutenant Nick McKenna, a grizzled veteran cop who gains an unlikely partner, 8-year old Devon Butler (Norman D. Golden II). 8-year old Butler witnessed a murder and goes to the police to give them information, but here’s the kicker: Butler won’t reveal any information until he is made an official policeman. Hilarity obviously ensues when Butler is paired with Reynolds’ McKenna character.

Cop and Half: New Recruit recently released a trailer in a quiet fashion, which is strange because you think they’d be taking out billboards and skywriters to promote this soon to be classic. The new trailer comes to us courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s official YouTube channel and this time around Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba) is playing the grizzled, old veteran detective, stepping into Burt Reynolds’ shoes, a task that one should never take lightly. The 12-year old half cop is played by Lulu Wilson (Ouija: Origin of Evil).

Cop and Half: New Recruit is set to be released next week in a straight to video release and will not see a theatrical release of any type, which is a shame because it would be pretty awesome to see the drones from the trailer shooting the popcorn in full resolution HD. But unfortunately, it’s just not meant to be and we should feel pretty lucky that the movie exists at all in the first place especially a movie starring Lou Diamond Phillips. The over acting and zany hijinks offer a refreshing take on the buddy cop genre.

The original Cop and a Half came out to mixed reviews back in 1993. Film critic Leonard Maltin said that movie was “abjectly painful” while going on to add “a hemorrhoid-and-a-half to anybody who sits through it.” However, Siskel and Ebert were far more forgiving, giving the movie 3 out of 4 stars, praising the performance of Norman D. Golden II, saying that he gave a “winning performance.” Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin was originally approached as was Kurt Russell, but that duo ultimately didn’t work out in the end.

Here it is, ready or not, Cop and Half: New Recruit full of drones, new technology, and Lou Diamond Phillips. This new version of the movie needs to be shared and viewed as many times as possible to let Universal know that there is a demand for a sequel to Cop and a Half and other straight to video releases like Kindergarten Cop 2 starring Dolph Lundgren. Anyway, the movie hits the shelves or streaming services on August 1st, 2017 and in the meantime, you can check out the official trailer below.

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Cop and a Half 2 Poster

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Tourist Trap: Why Is This 70s Slasher Trash Suddenly So Popular?

Older and younger people have always been at odds. Older folks feel that younger folks have no interest in learning the “right” way to do things. Younger people feel that older people are too “set in their ways.” However, something very odd is happening on the internet. A “new” horror movie is being discovered. Is it some stylistic gem ala It Follows that will forge the genre in a new direction? Is it one of the classics like Friday the 13th getting a remake that will be anything less than dreadful? No. It is a movie from 1979 called Tourist Trap that has Millennials all aglow and the old folks (people that are older than Millennials) shaking their heads in utter disgust.

To be frank, nothing about the Tourist Trap plot could really be described as special. The film has some very unique qualities but the set-up of the story isn’t anything we haven’t already seen. Young people are stranded at a museum. They soon find themselves stalked by the likes of Mr. Slausen (Chuck Connors) who is the museum’s crazy caretaker. (As an aside, how come in these films it’s always crazy people that are given these jobs in which they have to be responsible?) He doesn’t carry a meat cleaver or a machete. Rather Slausen’s weapon of his choice is the mannequins that he keeps in a collection. It is this unique device, and the fact that Slausen’s killer is able to use telekinesis, that really separates Tourist Trap from being a throwaway horror film.

So why is it is that Millennials have suddenly taken to this film that seemed DOA even when it was released? A search was done to track the grosses on Tourist Trap. It seems that this film, like many slasher movies, came and went almost as soon as it hit theaters in March of 1979. However, cable TV ultimately revived Tourist Trap somewhat, and apparently there is a fair amount of “underground” interest in all things mannequin.

Now, it isn’t like Tourist Trap is gaining fan interest on the level of The Room or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. However, some new pins and shirts have shown up on the Cavity Colors website. This means that interest for this film and products related to Tourist Trap are fairly high. The fact that the pins and shirts sell for $13 and $26, respectively, only further boosts this film’s cachet among the 18-29 set. With this youthful interest, it is probably easy to see Tourist Trap as a new horror movie. Some might even think that it is going to start showing up on movie screens as either a revival or new release. It isn’t. And the fact that products for this film are on a site like Cavity Colors is almost mind-boggling.

So why are Millennials so enamored with Tourist Trap?

Well, unlike Leatherface, Michael Myers, or Jason Vorhees, the killer in Tourist Trap talks. There is a passion to their voice that adds a weight and gravitas to their every word. Okay, Freddy Kreuger also spoke, but much of what he said was in the form of jokes. The killer in Tourist Trap doesn’t really do that. If anything, the IQ level of the killer in this film seems absurdly high. How else to explain how they are able to kill the way they do? Seeing how the murders are set up, the way they are premeditated, that is something that we don’t generally see from “slasher films”. Millennials seem to appreciate that this character breaks the mold. He seems gender neutral which predates the killer in the more lauded Silence of the Lambs by 11 years. In fact, looking at the one sheet for this film you may very well think that the killer is a woman. As an aside, casting the manly Chuck Connors in this non-binary role was a stroke of genius. He plays the role of Mr. Slausen with classic, leading man swagger. Heck, this is The Rifleman we’re talking about here! This movie works because it plays on subversion. That is another thing that Millennials seem to appreciate. In fact, it might be the most punk rock thing about them. They are very much into shifting paradigms. What better way to do that than to embrace a horror film that appears miles away from the ones they should consider sacrosanct? It truly seems as if Millennials might see something of themselves in Tourist Trap.

Truthfully, Millennials love of this film might simply stem from their well known defiant streak. They refuse to be told what to do. This includes being told what cult movies they should worship and adore. Based off this alone, Millennials will reject the so called classics that Generation X holds so dear. Thus they went out of their way to find a cult movie to call their own. Even though Tourist Trap came out in 1979, we haven’t really been hearing much about it since it became a “thing” among the Millennial set. On the face of it, it is easy to dismiss Tourist Trap as being a House of Wax ripoff or a Texas Chainsaw redo. However, you get 5 minutes into it and you can easily see that it becomes something you haven’t seen before or since. It’s a unique horror movie in every way. It subverts (there’s that word again) the genre with unexpected twists that are easy to embrace. Tourist Trap is as good or perhaps better than the other movies of its era, and no one has really started talking about it until now.

The original Halloween is often seen as the film that really kicked off the slasher film craze. This film came out in 1978. After that we got Friday the 13th in 1980 and all the other 80s horror films that people from my generation still fight tooth and nail for. With the success of Halloween, it isn’t surprising that Tourist Trap got lost in the shuffle. However, Millennials probably don’t see much to get excited about with Halloween. They may think the tale is pedestrian. Let’s be honest, for as good as Michael Myers is, is he as clever as Mr. Slausen? Is Jason or Freddy as interesting a killer as that character? For Millennials, Mr. Slausen is the one who should be getting all the glory. He should be the toast of the horror convention and sequel/reboot set.

The biggest problem for Tourist Trap now is maintaining its momentum. The film is so weird and scary that old timers who don’t remember it, or have never seen it, are going to be just as excited to connect with it. Slowly but surely, Tourist Trap will then feel farmed and franchised. The big question is will the millennials who liked it yesterday still like it in a few weeks? Or, will they drop it like a hot potato which makes it hard to write a piece like this. As I write this story, Tourist Trap feels like a special club. Will other people be allowed to like a movie that is so yesterday? Especially now that this special club no longer feels special and the fascination is gone?

Wouldn’t it be ironic if there was suddenly a big revival in the Puppet Master franchise among the Millennial set? With over ten films in this franchise the Millennials could feed off of it forever. Why is this ironic? Because the first film in this series was kicked off by David Schmoeller who, you guessed it, directed Tourist Trap. The movie is currently streaming for free on Youtube. You can watch it here if you have a spare 90 minutes burning a hole in your pocket.

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Netflix Original Movie Review: You Get Me Is a Waste of Talent and Time

You Get Me is your fairly stock, run of the mill revenge/scorned thriller. Set in the world of high school, the really interesting thing about this film is that You Get Me is a Netflix Original Film. Tyler (Taylor John Smith) breaks up with Alison (Halston Sage), despite being in love with her, because he believes she has a past that he just can’t seem to reconcile. So he has a night to remember with Holly (Bella Thorne) only to remember (as most men do), that they actually love the person they’re committed to. Alison and Tyler resume however, but, you guessed it, Holly isn’t done with Tyler. Not by a long shot. What ensues is the classic Fatal Attraction set-up in which Tyler and Alison eventually find themselves both at odds with Holly. I could say more but you know how this whole thing ends up.

Truthfully, you let me down a bit here, Netflix. Before we get into that let us focus on the positive. Director Brent Bonacorso and his Director of Photography Magadalena Gorka (Paranormal Activity 3) have put together a very nice looking film. Bonacorso seems to have something of a music video background (he’s done some work with Katy Perry), and all of that is on display here. This film is bright, bubbly, but also carries with it a certain sense of foreboding. And, for the kind of film that You Get Me is, that more than does the job here. This says nothing of the synth soundtrack that plays like the 1980s on steroids. Also, current technology like texting is also used to solid effect. In many ways the texts in this film play like another character that is sort of overlooking the proceedings. Sort of like a digital Greek Chorus.

However, for all the attributes that Bonacorso and Gorka have tossed into this film, it is hard not to acknowledge the “been there done that” feeling that You Get Me has. In fact, this film so much reminded of other films that I had to check out some reviews just to make sure that I wasn’t going crazy with comparison envy. That isn’t the only thing that makes You Get Me feel uninspired. With a plot that viewers are this familiar with there needs to be more of a hook. There isn’t one here. The actors are all solid. They all look the part of the characters they are playing and they acquit themselves well. The only problem is that you never feel that they are being utilized to their fullest potential.

All that being said the entity that I think is really at fault here is Netflix. I say that because this is the company that gave us House of Cards, Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, The OA, etc…And now You Get Me. You see what I’m saying?

I know that people are going to say that that is just what studios do. Some of what they release is brilliant and some of what they put out isn’t. The problem is that Netflix has always struck this wag as being more of a standard barer. They weren’t just putting things out. Netflix was trying to revolutionize the viewing experience. Well, at least that’s how everything started. Now they slowly seem to be taking their place in line with the other studios that came before them. The same studios that seem to be scrambling to get in front of the curve that Netflix holds the lead in. For now.

The big question is will You Get Me be a mere blip on the ascending Netflix ladder? Or, will we look back at You Get Me as one of the films that ultimately foretold Netflix’s demise.

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Captain Marvel Concept Art Reveals the Skrulls

The first official look at Marvel’s Skrulls in Captain Marvel have arrived. Marvel Studios caused a ruckus at San Diego Comic-Con last weekend by showing off some concept art for Captain Marvel, specifically a really cool look at what we can expect the villainous Skrulls to look like on the big screen. In addition, we got our first look at Academy Award winning actress Brie Larson for the first time as Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel in a standalone shot, as well as a few pictures of her fighting the Skrulls.

As it turns out, the artist behind the Captain Marvel and Skrulls concept art did not know it was going to be shown at Comic-Con. When he first saw his Skrulls on the internet, he immediately thought that there was a leak of some sort. The artist, Jerad S. Marantz, soon found out that his art was officially shown at the convention, relieving his stress. The art was then shared via Jerad Marantz’s Instagram and they are the same images that were shown at Comic-Con, but actual photos this time and not pictures of the giant screens at Hall H.

Marantz said that he was “honored” to wake up and see that his designs were shown by Marvel and Disney. The artist also said that he worked on the designs “in-house at Marvel” with Andy Park, who is apparently responsible for the Carol Danvers concept art. The pictures of the Skrulls reveal an even closer look at a design that is remarkably close to the original comic books and the video game adaptations that have popped up over the years. Marantz specifically mentions the Super-Skrull in his post, a character that is known to have the combined powers of the Fantastic Four. The most famous Super-Skrull is Kl’rt, who may be under license from FOX, but it is unclear at this time. James Gunn has said in the past that “some specific Skrulls are at FOX.”

The Skrulls first appeared in the Fantastic Four #2 and they were created by Jack Kirby for Marvel Comics. The Skrulls are separated into three branches: the Prime, the Deviants, and the Eternals. Eventually all three branches warred against each other, and the Deviant branch won, due to their ability to shape shift. The Deviants wiped out all of the other races until only two were left, Skrull Eternal and Prime Skrull. It is not clear at this time if this will be the final design in the finished product, but one would imagine that the Skrulls will look pretty close to Marantz’s concept art. It isn’t clear yet if any of these plot points will be used in Captain Marvel, a movie that is confirmed to take place in the 1990s, the first Marvel period piece since the WWII set Captain America, not counting the TV show Agent Carter.

Also shown at the Marvel Studios panel was some concept art featuring Samuel L. Jackson as a young Nick Fury, but those pictures have yet to surface online yet. The information about the young Nick Fury was exciting for two reasons, the first being that it was the first official announcement that Jackson would be in Captain Marvel and two, it showed young Nick Fury without an eye patch. Since it has been confirmed that we will not get our first look at Brie Larson’s Carol Danver in Avengers: Infinity War, we’ll have to wait until March 8th, 2019 to see Captain Marvel in action. Until then check out the Skrulls concept art courtesy of Jerad S. Marantz below.

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