1.) Friday the 13th (Full Trailer/Photos/Set Visit): Eight years after a weak romp in space, and six years after a tussle with Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees is going solo in a reboot, not remake, of the Friday the 13th saga. Producers Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form - the triumvirate behind Platinum Dunes - called in director Marcus Nispel to set up a fresh cast (including Supernatural's Jared Padalecki) and knock 'em down.
Opens: February 13, 2009
Not a remake? Huh?: Nope, so you may as well stifle that instinctive need to scoff, "Well, he's got the mask and the mother is not the killer, so this can't be an accurate remake!" The film is an all-new story that lifts elements of the first three chapters.
Why I'm excited: Because I'm a Jason Voorhees fanatic. And, I'll take a reinvention over anything the last three installments me put through (not counting Freddy vs. Jason). Nispel's eye, decent lead actors and a Jason design I've seen up-close and approve of all have me hopeful.
Then again...: The rumored Crystal Lake "tunnel system" plot device has me concerned, we'll see how it plays out.
2.) The Wolfman (Photos): With The Mummy franchise fading away (c'mon, that third entry was the pits), Universal is tossing a ton of cash at a remake of George Waggner and Curt Siodmak's 1941 film. Benicio Del Toro howls as Larry Talbot (the Wolfman to you) this time, a son who returns home to find his missing brother and ultimately becomes afflicted with lycanthropy. Seven and Sleepy Hollow scribe Andrew Kevin Walker cooked up this return of one of Universal's classic monsters. Jurassic Park III's Joe Johnston took over directing after Mark Romanek bowed out during pre-production.
Opens: November 6, 2009
Why I'm excited: I enjoyed what I read of Walker's script. It took a serious approach and stayed true to the source material. The Wolf Man is such an iconic figure who has seen all of his Universal kin get facelifts to varying degrees of success, it was about time he got his chance to roam in the light of the full moon again. Del Toro's an interesting choice, and reportedly a huge fan of the original film, plus...Rick Baker's doing the makeup! The Comic-Con trailer seen last summer was appropriately moody and the big beastie looked great.
Then again... The screenplay may have changed since I got my paws on it. Joe Johnston is a decent enough director (I liked The Rocketeer and Jurassic Park III), but is he going to deliver something unique or is it going to be simply a paint-by-numbers horror film that reflects a hired gun director who was shoehorned into pre-production late in the game? At the time of this writing, I'm told the Wolf Man "transformation" is likely to be executed through CGI which is not making Baker a happy camper. And the push from an April release to November is also discouraging.
3.) My Bloody Valentine 3D (Trailer/Photos): An unlikely choice for a remake, but a welcome one. MBV3D relocates actor Jensen Ackles from his regular gig on Supernatural to the town of Harmony where a killer, wearing a miner's outfit and carrying a pick-axe, is raising hell on Valentine's Day. Pretty cut and dry, don't ya think? Well, maybe not so "dry" as we've heard the film revels in gore. Co-stars Jaime King and Kerr Smith try and stay afloat in this bloodbath.
Opens: January 16, 2009
About this "3-D" thing: This remake comes with the bragging rights of being the first released 3-D horror film of 2009. New Line also has one waiting in the wings (see a few stops down on this list) and Dimension Films will go into production soon on Piranha 3D. However, because some theaters across the country are not yet equipped with the technology to screen new 3-D fare, it's likely a few of you out there will only be able to see the film in 2-D. Mucho bummer.
Why I'm excited: I was hooked by the marketing. Great trailer. Dynamic poster. It's got Tom Atkins (that should seal any deal). Reports out of an early festival screening say it's effective across the board and does not disappoint. And the 3-D is supposedly pretty wicked. I've always loved the original, but I'm open-minded enough to give this slasher throwback a chance.
Then again... It's directed by Patrick Lussier whose track record of directing direct-to-DVD Dimension sequels and Dracula 2000 isn't exactly rousing. Still, he's worked as Wes Craven's editor since New Nightmare. Maybe some of Craven's "slasher magic dust" rubbed off on Lussier and he'll prove to be more at ease with masked killers than a fanged Gerard Butler.
4.) Outlander (Trailer/Int'l One-Sheet): Braun and steel collide with feuding aliens in Howard McCain's period creature feature starring Jim Caviezel, Sophia Myles, Jack Huston, Ron Perlman and John Hurt. "Former Jesus" plays a man from another world named Kainan who crash lands in ancient Norway, bringing with him a monster that escapes and wreaks havoc on the Vikings living in the vicinity.
Opens: January 23, 2009 (limited)
Featuring a creature designed by: Patrick Tatopoulos. He's the cat behind the winged, nocturnal beasts of Pitch Black, the look and Lycans of the Underworld series (not to mention the director of the third entry) and is the creature designer on the upcoming Trick 'r Treat.
Why I'm excited: 'Cause I'm a sucker for period action movies and creature features. Vikings versus a big monster? I'm in. That cast is terrific and the trailer absolutely delivers boasting ambitious production value. Again, another one preceded by positive festival screening reports.
Then again... Well, the story is bit nutty and this could completely fall flat on its ass.
5.) Splice: Two geneticists - described as rock stars in their field - smash together human and animal DNA and create an entirely new being. At first, the organism they create appears deformed but over time it becomes a beautiful female "human-chimera" named Dren. It forms a bond with her proud parents, played by Adrien Brody (King Kong) and Sarah Polley (Dawn of the Dead), but like any good Frankenstein-inspired tale, Dren's relationship with them turns deadly. This is one, directed by Cube's Vincenzo Natali and produced by Guillermo del Toro, has been long in the works and is expected to debut at the Toronto Int'l Film Festival
Opens: Fourth Quarter 2009
Why I'm excited: The concept sounds appealing. The script is supposedly strong. And, thanks to the Internet, leaked photos of the Dren creature teased we may be seeing an organism put to screen that we've never seen before.
Then again... Tonally, this film could be all over the place. I haven't seen enough to be apprehensive or have any doubts yet.
6.) Drag Me to Hell (Photo): Alison Lohman is cursed by an old hag in Sam Raimi's return to horror after spending almost the last decade swinging around New York with Spider-Man. Scripted by Raimi and his brother Ivan and co-starring Justin Long (Live Free or Die Hard, Jeepers Creepers), Dileep Rao and Lorna Raver.
Opens: May 29, 2009
Why I'm excited: Because it looks like Raimi's going bat-shit crazy again. As in fueled by whatever creative spark that made his Evil Dead series so memorable, Darkman an amusing ride and The Quick and the Dead no ordinary western. The Comic-Con footage I saw, which featured Lohman engaged in a full-on fight with Raver's crone, revealed Raimi hasn't lost his touch for the absurd.
Then again... It's PG-13, so "madcap Raimi" might be back in full effect, but just how gory is it going to get? Also, the Comic-Con trailer, which prefaced the aforementioned footage, emphasized the film's comedic beats over the scares. Some of laughs fell pretty flat.
7.) Jennifer's Body (Teaser): Diablo Cody's script tells of a high school cheerleader named Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) who is sacrificed at the hands of a devil-worshiping rock band and inadvertently becomes the host of a demon. A demon that needs to feed on boys. Jennifer's recently-acquired habits slowly dissolves her friendship with pal Needy (Amanda Seyfried) who realizes she's the only one who can stop her hungry, and hot, best friend.
Opens: September 18, 2009
Megan Fox Nude?!: Many are getting worked up over the potential of seeing Maxim Magazine's "hottest woman on the motherf**kin' EARTH" naked. I say, keep your expectations in check. Yes, photos leaked out from the set featuring Fox stepping out of a lake wearing panties 'n pasties, but there are many ways to have her topless yet still keep her covered up (such as strategically-placed strands of hair, or hopefully entrails).
Why I'm excited: This is one primary reason; another is I got a kick out of the script. It's ridiculous and a loving '80s horror throwback - that reminded me of Night of the Demons and Trick or Treat - with the potential for some great gore gags (which are supplied here by KNB EFX). And there's a cat fight between Fox and Seyfried I'm eager to see.
Then again... Cody's dialogue, while amusing, could wear thin as it did in Juno and 20th Century Fox could potentially shave back the violence to a PG-13 rating to attract a broader audience. I say nay to that.
8.) Final Destination: Death Trip 3D (Photos): More premonitions. More creative kills. But in 3-D! This time some dude predicts he'll die with his pals during a disaster at a car race. Lo and behold, it actually happens and they skirt a grisly demise, but history in the FD universe tells us death isn't done with these survivors just yet.
Opens: August 21, 2009
Why I'm excited: The film brings back director David Ellis and writer Eric Bress from Final Destination 2, an entry, I thought, that was gleefully sadistic. 3-D faces of death! 'Nuff said.
Then again... While Final Destination 3 showed there were still plenty of ways to execute people, the familiar formula was growing a bit stale.
9.) Burning Bright (Photo): Hopefully actress Briana Evigan has caught up on all of the Discovery Channel's nature specials because here she's going from Step Up 2 the Streets to being caught in a house during a hurricane with her autistic brother and a big, hungry tiger. How? I don't friggin' know...but I'm dying to see how it plays out. Carlos Brooks of Quid Pro Quo stirs this wild stew.
Once known as: Tiger, Tiger
Why I'm excited: One film I dig is Venom with Klaus Kinski. It's a tight thriller that has kidnappers and a child with asthma trapped in a house with a Black Mamba snake. They can't go outside or they'll get arrested by the police; if they stay inside there's always the potential of being bitten by the Black Mamba. There are threats all around and the tension is palpable. Burning Bright appears to capture that same essence. Instead of the cops, there's a hurricane. A kid with asthma is replaced with one with autism. And instead of a snake, why the hell not make the threat larger like with a tiger? This equation sounds amazing to me.
Then again... There's a lot of potential to f**k it all up.
10.) Pandorum (Photos): Here's a sci-fi entry to spice up the list. Directed by Christian Alvart - who helmed the shelved Case 39 and will hopefully have better luck getting this film released - pushes Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster through a mystery in which they awake aboard a space vessel unaware of who they are or what their mission is. Along the way - to take a sampling from the official synopsis - they discover the ship's new inhabitants are "tribal warriors carrying crudely made weapons" intent on killing them. The two men soon discover the spaceship holds deadly secrets.
Opens: September 4, 2009
Produced by: Paul W.S. Anderson, director of another haunted spaceship flick, Event Horizon.
Why I'm excited: Scary stories set in space are few and far between. Sunshine had me on the edge of my chair and I got some cheap thrills out of Event Horizon, still, I'm always open to seeing a merging of science fiction and straight-up horror.
Then again... Alvart didn't really impress me with his serial killer film Antibodies and I hear there's a good reason Case 39 keeps getting delayed.
For my best and worst picks of 2008 click here!
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