Category: Movies


Living Dead cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

“By removing the head, or destroying the brain.”

It’s the message delivered to England residents in Shaun of the Dead by the news service on how to deal with the impending zombie threat.  And the same rule applies to the killing of zombie ghouls in the long-awaited sequel to the original zombie classic, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead.  That’s right, writer Daniel Kraus picked up a story begun by George A. Romero decades ago to create a behemoth of a follow-up to the movie series in a 654-page novel, The Living Dead: A New Novel It’s scheduled to arrive in bookstores and online June 9 (update: moved to August 4), and borg has previewed an advance copy thanks to publisher Tor Books.  Romero, who passed away in 2017, was the modern horror auteur, known as the “Godfather of the Dead” for his works including the films Creepshow, Monkey Shines, and an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Half, in addition to several zombie/ghoul sequels.  He inspired countless horror directors, including Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead.  But his 1968 black and white creepshow is what he is known best for.  In conjunction with Romero’s estate, Kraus wrote the bulk of the novel based on more than 100 pages of story and notes from the acclaimed horror writer and director, described in an author’s note to the novel.

The nuance and 1960s style of Night of the Living Dead is long gone in The Living Dead, replaced with a fully modern zombie spectacle–think 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead.  But its framework of characters destined to have intersecting paths is like a Quentin Tarantino movie, and this is the kind of story anyone could see him adapting to the screen.  Kraus takes a Romero story treatment of what starts as “some kind of bird flu thing” and attacks it from numerous vantage points, including the unique viewpoint of the thoughts of the dead as they re-emerge as zombies.  Characters that take center stage in separate encounters include: Puerto Rican squadron pilot Jennifer Pagán, who fights off “turned” military personnel aboard the USS Olympia aircraft carrier, Karl Nashimura, a master helmsman aboard Pagán’s ship, Chuck Corso, an ambitious journalist who has never been taken seriously until he intercepts a White House internal communication reflecting a frightening turn of events, Etta Hoffman, an archivist worker in a Census Bureau records center, whose access to death data documents what could the final years of humanity, and Greer Morgan, a young resident of a mobile home park in rural northwest Missouri who knows how to use a bow and arrow.

But the best of the novel tracks the actions of Luis Acocella, an assistant medical examiner in San Diego who experiences the first encounter with a patient affected by a strange new virus that seems to be reanimating the dead.  The story of he and his assistant Charlene, would have made a superb story, even if the rest of the chapters had been stripped away.  Although many zombie tales are strictly fantasy horror, the author makes some effort to provide a science fiction basis for the virus’s study.

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In-person cancellations have not kept every event this summer from canceling entirely.  One of those is typically one of the summer’s biggest events, San Diego Comic-Con.  Events for SDCC 2020 are proceeding ahead beginning Wednesday, but this time providing an opportunity for fans of all things pop culture a chance to sit through the kinds of panels you might see were you to attend in person in any regular year–without standing overnight in lines.  You can even grab a lanyard off the rack, print your own badge (for you and your pets), cosplay with your family, and load the panels up on as big of a screen as you have.  It’s 350 panels over five days, beginning Wednesday, July 22, and wrapping up Sunday, July 26.  Check out all our suggestions for building your own fun convention week experience below.

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Last night the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films held the 44th annual Saturn Awards, honoring the best in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other genres, held in Burbank, California.  Coming into last night’s presentation, Black Panther was nominated in 14 categories, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was nominated in 13 categories, and Blade Runner 2049 and The Shape of Water were each nominated in nine categories.  In television, The Walking Dead led the nominations with seven, followed by Star Trek: Discovery with five.  You can never predict who and what will win at the Saturn Awards, but you can be sure they will be very fandom-centric picks.

Black Panther led the night with four wins, for Best Comic-to-Motion Picture Release, Best Director (Ryan Coogler), Best Supporting Actress (Danai Gurira), and Best Make-up.  Star Wars: The Last Jedi followed with three wins, for Best Actor (Mark Hamill), Best Writing, and Best Editing.  In television, because of the Awards’ split between traditional TV shows and streaming shows, the expected suspects came out on top: The Flash and Marvel’s The Punisher as best superhero shows, and The Orville and Star Trek: Discovery each winning awards.  But the most wins was a tie, with three awards each for Better Call Saul and Twin Peaks: The Return.

Here are all the winners and nominees:

Movie Awards

Best Comic-to-Motion Picture Release
Winner:  Black Panther
Nominees:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Logan
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Thor: Ragnarok
Wonder Woman

Best Science Fiction Film Release
Winner:  Blade Runner 2049
Nominees:
Alien: Covenant
Life
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Fantasy Film Release
Winner:  The Shape of Water
Nominees:
Beauty and the Beast
Downsizing
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Kong: Skull Island
Paddington 2

Best Horror Film Release
Winner: Get Out
Nominees:
47 Meters Down
Annabelle: Creation
Better Watch Out
It
Mother!

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First previewed back in June here at borg, Ford v Ferrari (as titled in the U.S., it’s Le Mans ’66 everywhere else) revisits that legendary battle of man vs machine vs man.  And its next trailer has arrived (check it out below).  James Mangold, who has directed some brilliant movies, including Cop Land and Logan, is directing the film, so it’s going to be an easy pick to see when it lands in theaters this November.  It’s long overdue that we get to see automotive legends Ford and Ferrari in a biopic about the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race.  Henry Ford II worked with Lee Iacocca to lead a team of engineers and designers to build a car for Ford to compete with Enzo Ferrari, and the result was the GT40 Mark II.  On June 18-19, 1966, they would face off.

It was the subject of a 2009 book, Go Like Hell, and the 2016 documentary based on that book, The 24-Hour WarThe leads in this version of events seem to be not the legendary opponents in the battle, Ford and Ferrari, but Matt Damon as racecar driver-turned-designer Carroll Shelby of Shelby Mustang fame, and Christian Bale as Daytona and Sebring-winning driver Ken Miles.  These were the days of racing when every other name would become a racing legend, names like A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Jackie Stewart, and Lloyd Ruby.  Playing Iacocca is Jon Bernthal (The Punisher, The Walking Dead), with Tracy Letts (Homeland, The Post) as Ford, and Remo Girone (Live by Night) as Ferrari.  Rounding out the cast are Caitriona Balfe, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, and Ray McKinnon.

Here is the second trailer for 20th Century Fox’s adaptation of the events leading to the 1966 24-hour race, Ford v Ferrari aka Le Mans ′66:

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It’s that step after you’ve exhausted all of the Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger horror flicks.  It’s in the camp of horror with The Ring, The Grudge, and Urban Legend, and maybe even When a Stranger Calls.  This one is another take on the Bloody Mary legend (or is it Beetlejuice?).  It’s, of course, Candyman, the horror that first saw a young Tony Todd as the creepy villain from the mind of famed horror writer Clive Barker, all of 28 years ago.

We now have a first trailer for a sequel to the 1992 cult horror film, again called Candyman The big news is it’s coming from producer Jordan Peele and director Nia DaCosta, and because of Oscar-winner Peele (Get Out, The Twilight Zone) it stands a better chance at getting noticed from the ordinary slasher film fare.

It also seems to have greater credibility because Tony Todd is back in at least some role in the film, giving the perception that he’s given this sequel his own seal of approval, which is good for fans of the original Candyman.  Todd starred in the first film with Virginia Madsen (Swamp Thing, Monk, Dune) and Ted Raimi (Twin Peaks, Ash vs Evil Dead), before he became well known for roles in Chuck, The Crow, The Flash, The Orville, The X-Files, the Final Destination series, and several Star Trek series.

Wait–there’s no candy here.  How many times will “say my name” be the theme of 21st century movie?  We’ll pass on the red band trailer for this one.  But here’s the green band–yet still blood, bug, hook, and scare-filled–trailer for the new Candyman:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Not many sequels match the original.  One of those rare gems is Happy Death Day 2U, an impressive, hilarious, amped-up horror meets sci-fi version of the original horror comedy featuring one of our favorite tropes: time loops.  The first look audiences had of a sequel to the October 2017 surprise hit Happy Death Day was the trailer in front of the 40th anniversary screening of Halloween in October 2018, receiving overwhelming positive feedback.  Director Christopher Landon’s 2019 sequel is so well-written, so well-acted by star Jessica Rothe, it may be better than the original, and it’s good enough to warrant an ongoing horror franchise on the scale of the Final Destination series.  The movie revisits Teresa “Tree” Gelbman, a strong, quick-thinking college student who keeps waking up to the same day, learning she must save not only herself but her friends from a freakish masked killer.  Yes, Happy Death Day 2U is Tru Calling meets Groundhog Day, but this time it suggests why the events of the first film happened, with the addition of some of clever sci-fi in the vein of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.

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Captain Kirk, The Fonz, Chewbacca, The Flash, Starbuck, the Weasleys, two Supermans, Tank Girl, and a slate of characters from The Princess Bride are heading to Kansas City

For twenty years Planet Comicon has been one of the Midwest’s biggest comic book and pop culture conventions and that was no less so in 2014 when it became the largest attended event in the history of the Kansas City Convention Center.  And it’s only gotten bigger.  Last year’s show featured guests including Jason Momoa, John Cusack, Michael Rooker, Danny Trejo, and Alan Tudyk, and this year Planet Comicon Kansas City is bringing in some of the most memorable names from TV and movies from the past and present for its 20th anniversary show.  Leading things off, Captain (and Admiral) James T. Kirk, William Shatner is returning to Kansas City for the annual event, which takes place at Kansas City’s convention center at Bartle Hall, March 29-31, 2019.

The guy who invented cool, the first person to “jump the shark,” Arthur Fonzarelli “The Fonz” from Happy Days actor Henry Winkler is making his first comic-con appearance in Kansas City.  Star of last year’s big Star Wars event, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo is scheduled to attend.  Star of one of the best sci-fi TV series of all time–the reboot of Battlestar Galactica–Starbuck actor Katee Sackhoff will be appearing at the show.  Two co-stars of the CW’s The Flash will be on-hand for autographs and photographs: Danielle Panabaker and the original 1990 Flash, John Wesley Shipp, both attending the event for the first time.  And for more of your superhero retro fix, two Superman actors, Lois & Clark’s Dean Cain and Smallville star Tom Welling, will have autograph booths on the convention floor.

Famous for her role as Tank Girl, and star of A League of Their Own and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, actor/director Lori Petty will be in the house.  Harry Potter fans can meet actors that portrayed three of their favorite Weasleys: Ginny Weasley’s Bonnie Wright, and brothers Fred and George, James Phelps and Oliver Phelps.  Also in the fantasy movie realm, three stars of The Princess Bride are making their way to Planet Comicon 2019:  Westley’s Cary Elwes will join Prince Humperdinck’s Chris Sarandon and the inconceivable Vizzini himself, actor Wallace Shawn.

–there’s something for every TV and movie fanboy and fangirl at this year’s show.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It it’s not a Ford, it’s crap.  That maxim gets put to the test in the next must-see movie while you’re sheltering at home.

A four-time Oscar nominee only a few weeks ago, Ford v Ferrari (as titled in the U.S., it’s Le Mans ’66 everywhere else) revisits that legendary battle of man vs machine vs man.  And boy, oh, boy, does director James Mangold find the sweet spot for the auto racing motif and create a superb film for any audience.  Mangold, who has directed some brilliant movies, including Cop Land and Logan, found the right leading and supporting cast and a story that will keep you sitting at the edge of your seat whether or not you’re a fan of auto races.  But it’s Christian Bale that is the star of the film, ditching his affected American accent and playing the quirky, savvy, and real Ken Miles in the year of races that earned him entry into the Hall of Fame.  Ford v Ferrari is available at sell-through prices on all the major streaming platforms, and it’s great drama, so you won’t want to overlook it.

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It all started when Henry Ford II tried to buy Ferrari to boost Ford Motor Company.  But Enzo Ferrari said “no.”  It’s long overdue that we get to see automotive legends Ford and Ferrari in a biopic about the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans road race.  Ford worked with Lee Iacocca to direct a team of engineers and designers to build a car for Ford to compete with Ferrari, and the result was the GT40 Mark II.  At the June 18-19, 1966, Le Mans they would face off.  It’s a legendary battle so good it’s getting two titles for the big screen: Ford v. Ferrari in the U.S. and Le Mans ′66 everywhere else.  James Mangold, who has directed some brilliant movies, including Cop Land and Logan, is directing the coming film, so it’s going to be an easy pick to see when it arrives in theaters this November.

It was the subject of a 2009 book, Go Like Hell, and the 2016 documentary based on that book, The 24-Hour War But the leads in this version seem to be not the legendary opponents in the battle, Ford and Ferrari, but Matt Damon as racecar driver-turned-designer Carroll Shelby of Shelby Mustang fame, and Christian Bale as Daytona and Sebring winning driver Ken Miles.  These were the days of racing when every other name would become a racing legend, names like A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Jackie Stewart, and Lloyd Ruby.  Playing Iacocca is Jon Bernthal (The Punisher, The Walking Dead), with Tracy Letts (Homeland, The Post) as Ford, and Remo Girone (Live by Night) as Ferrari.  Rounding out the cast are Caitriona Balfe, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, and Ray McKinnon.  (While you’re waiting for the movie, check out the LEGO kit).

Beyond the fictional stories in Steve McQueen’s 1971 movie Le Mans and Tom Cruise’s 1990 movie Days of Thunder, here is the first trailer for 20th Century Fox’s adaptation of the events leading to the 1966 24-hour race, Ford v. Ferrari aka Le Mans ′66:

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Love and Monsters a

Review by C.J. Bunce

Initially marketed as Monster Problems, Love and Monsters is a surprise sleeper hit apocalypse movie, also marketed as an adventure comedy, which puts it into the camp of movies like the Jumanji series and Finding ‘Ohana.  It was scheduled for release last April, then delayed to late 2020 because of the pandemic, and you probably missed it.  Which is now a good thing, because it’s a nicely timed story about survival–namely surviving a big event and getting to the other side of that event, being able to breathe freely again, at least at some level.  Starring Dylan O’Brien, Jessica Henwick, and Michael Rooker, it’s a monster movie so well done it is nominated for a visual effects Oscar in tonight’s Academy Award ceremony.  It’s now streaming on Vudu, Amazon, and DVD/Blu-Ray.

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