Genre Watch – July & August ’06 – By Jordan Garren

 As I sit here and type this first ever "Rogue Cinema Genre Watch" article, I realize that this has been a long time coming. I always try to keep up-to-date on what comes out every week in theaters and on DVD (mainly to see what new indie and cult films are getting released) so it seemed like I should share a bit of my knowledge with the rest of the world. Granted, I will not be mentioning every movie being released, but I will try and shed light on what I regard as the most important releases (or what seems like the most fun) in the indie, sci-fi, horror, cult, and fantasy genres. Without further ado, here are my "hot genre picks" for the months of July and August:

Now available on DVD:

Final Destination 3 – While the third time isn’t a charm here, this second sequel is a return to form and leaves a confusing storyline in the dust in exchange for some gory deaths! Though I had my doubts, I loved it! High school hottie Wendy (played by boner-inducing actress, Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a vision that the roller coaster she and her friends are on is going to be the scene of a horrifying freak accident. Wendy and a handful of kids get off the coaster, it crashes, and then death goes after each of the survivors. Sure we’ve seen it before, but it works! The 2-Disc DVD for this fright flick comes with a buttload of extra features to (forgive me for this) DIE FOR: Audio Commentary with director James Wong, co-writer Olen Morgan, and DP (director of photography) Robert McLachlan, a "Choose their Fate" feature, 10 part documentary – Kill Shot: The Making of FD3, "Dead Teenager Movie" featurette, "It’s All Around You" animated short, "Planned Accidents" featurette, Extended police-station scene, DVD Rom features, and of course, a few trailers and TV spots. You can even buy all three Final Destination films in a delightful boxed set if the urge hits you.

Halloween 4 & 5 (Divimax Editions) – Anchor Bay once again shows larger companies like Sony how to infuriate movie lovers. These two somewhat successful sequels to Halloween follow the escapades of the crazy but loveable Michael Myers as he chases after his niece, while Sam Loomis (the late and great Donald Pleasance) tries to bring down his former patient. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (Divimax Special Edition) comes with: Audio commentary with Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris, Commentary by Alan B. McElroy, "Halloween 4 – Final Cut" featurette, and a theatrical trailer. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (Divimax Special Edition) boasts these extras: Commentary by director Dominique Othenin-Girard and actors Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman, an introduction by stars Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris, "Inside Halloween 5" featurette, "On the set of Halloween 5" featurette, and a theatrical trailer. I own several of Anchor Bay’s other Divimax titles and I can surely say that these two sequels probably have never looked as good as they do now.

Komodo vs. Cobra – In the tradition of "Alien vs. Predator," "King Kong vs. Godzilla," and "Boa vs. Python" comes this new direct to DVD crapfest from director Jim Wynorski. A government experiment goes wrong on a secluded island and communication is lost, so naturally someone is sent out to see what’s wrong. It turns out that the ee-vil U.S. government has once again meddled with mother nature and created droves of giant Komodo dragons and cobras. Yikes, does the sci-fi channel really need to keep cranking out junk like this? The answer is a resounding YES! The DVD is a bare bones affair from what I’ve seen, but on a good note, the film is featured in its original widescreen format. I have a feeling that we’ll be getting "Snakefish Terror vs. Frankenfish" or "Minotaur vs. Manticore" in the very near future. (::Groan::)

Masters of Horror: Homecoming – "Homecoming" comes from director Joe Dante and is a zombie tale of a different sort. Soldiers that died in Iraq return from the dead to oust the President of the United States in the latest election, in order to stop the continuing war. This particular "episode" from the Masters of Horror series has received a lot of attention due to its political message and I for one would love to own it. The DVD is stacked with a ton of extras that I have laboriously typed out just for you: Commentary by writer Sam Hamm, on set interviews with Jon Tenney, Robert Picardo, and Thea Gill, "The Dead Come Marching" – Interview with Joe Dante, "Working with a Master: Joe Dante" featurette, "Behind the Scenes: The Making of Homecoming" featurette, "Fantasy Film Festival: Mick Garris interviews Joe Dante" archival featurette, trailers, a still gallery, and a Joe Dante biography. To top it all off ("You mean there’s more?!") here’s the DVD-ROM extras that can be found on this modestly priced DVD: A Screensaver, the film’s screenplay, and lastly the original story that inspired Homecoming, "Death and Suffrage" by Dale Bailey. Yowza, with all those extras, I wonder if they actually had room on the DVD for the film itself! Keep an eye out for these other Masters of Horror titles this year: "Jenifer" on August 15th, "Pick Me Up" on October 17th, "Dance of the Dead" on September 12th, "Imprint" on September 26th, and "Haekel’s Tale" on November 14th.

Night Watch [Nochnoi Dozor] – This dark fantasy film comes from Russia (with love) from director Timur Bekmambetov.(Henceforth known as TB…. or maybe not. When you hear TB you may automatically think of Tuberculosis so we’ll call him TimBek for short.) In Night Watch the forces of Light and Dark are in constant struggle for supremacy but the birth of a powerful "Other" may swing the balance in favor of either side. While I’m not the biggest fan of this film (read my review for it here), I did enjoy it quite a bit, and was actually shocked during the movie’s final moments. ("What a twist!") The film is available on a double-sided widescreen DVD with the following extra features: Extended ending with optional commentary by Co-Writer/Director TimBek, a subtitled commentary by renowned novelist Sergei Lukyanenko, and sneak peeks of the second and third sequels to Night Watch. If this is the best Russia has to offer, then I want more!

Road House – Deluxe Edition – With all the double and triple-dipping that film companies have been doing, it’s no surprise to see this "classic" come out again (especially now that Sony owns MGM… what a world!). Patrick Swayze is James Dalton, a professional bouncer that is hired to clean up a seedy establishment called the Double Deuce. Jimmy Dalton (tai-chi master of throat-ripping and dirty dancing) ends up butting heads with the local town bully/evil millionaire that finally leads to a showdown at said bad guy’s mansion. The new DVD of Road House contains the following extras: Audio Commentary with director Rowdy Herrington, audio commentary with "Road House fans" Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, a "What Would Dalton Do?" featurette, "On the Road House" Featurette, and a trivia track. Also, be on the look out for a cheesy direct-to-dvd sequel for this film, ingeniously titled, Road House 2. (No, I’m not kidding, they did in fact make a Patrick-Swayze-less sequel!)

Rock N’ Roll Nightmare – This insane low budget horror/rock n’ roll movie is finally available on DVD from Synapse and it was well worth the wait. Rocker John Triton (Jon Mikl Thor!) and his band travel to a secluded farm to record a new album but soon each member of the band is knocked off one by one by the minions of Satan! By the end, only John Triton is left to battle the devil himself, but good ole Triton’s got a little secret that even Old Scratch didn’t know about. This film is a blast to watch and falls into the "so bad it’s good" category, and to cap it all off, Rock N’ Roll Nightmare has an incredible twist ending that would make M. Night Shyamalan’s jaw hit the floor! ("What a twist!") The DVD from Synapse boasts a remastered widescreen print of RNRN and a bountiful number of extras, including: Audio commentary by director Joe Fasano and star Jon-Mikl Thor, Revelations of a Rock N’ Roll Warrior & Creating a Child-Wolf featurettes, rare behind the scenes footage in the Rock N’ Shock Memories featurette, music videos, liner notes, and an intro & afterword by rocker Jon-Mikl Thor! Watching this film "Gives me Energy! En-er-gy! Oh yeah it does! It gives me energy! En-er-gy! And makes me stronger every day!"

Now Playing in Theaters:

Clerks II – Kevin Smith and company return with this all new comedic sequel. Reports so far have been positive, but it seems that Joel Siegel wasn’t a big fan of this flick. Fans of Jay and Silent Bob unite, the dynamic duo is back!

Lady in the Water – A bedtime story (with a twist) by renowned director/writer M. Night Shyamalan. This film has taken a bashing from critics and moviegoers alike. Has the "king of twists" finally lost his touch?

Monster House – A CGI animated film about a house, that’s actually a man-eating monster! This one has been getting positive feedback from everyone and looks to be an animated feature that I wouldn’t mind seeing.

My Super Ex-Girlfriend – A cautionary tale about the pitfalls of dating a superheroine. Directed by Ivan Reitman and starring the lovely Uma Thurman, this film is at the top of my list of "must see summer flicks."

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – F*@#ing awesome! Practically everyone (and I do mean everyone) from the first film returns to duke it out with a squid-faced Davey Jones and his pet monster, the tentacled Kraken! I’ve seen it twice and I can’t wait until it hits DVD!

A Scanner Darkly – I have no idea what this movie is about, but it looks cool! Hell… is it even still in theaters? Seems like it dropped off the radar pretty fast.

Superman Returns – Brandon Routh (who?) plays the man of steel and Kevin Spacey plays Lex Luthor. The storyline is alright, the action and effects are great, but the real reason to see this movie is for Kevin Spacey’s role. He is freaking awesome as Lex Luthor and light-years better than Gene Hackman ever was!

DVDs to look for in August:

August 1st: "I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer" and "V for Vendetta."

August 8th: "Hellraiser III" and "Tromeo and Juliet" (10th Anniversary DVD)

August 15th: "Masters of Horror: Jenifer"

August 22nd: "House on Haunted Hill 2-Pack" (Contains original and remake), "Neon Genesis: Evangelion" (10 Anniversary Boxed Set), "THEM & The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" Double Feature, "This Island Earth," and "The Wicker Man."

August 29th: "The Brainiac," "Let’s Scare Jessica to Death," and "The Chuck Norris Collection!"

Theatrical Films to Look for in August:

August 4th:
The Descent – This looks awesome! Hot girls go cave spelunking and end up as a feast for albino bat-people!

August 11th:
Pulse – A remake of a Japanese horror flick, this one involves a confusing plot about the dead trying to take over the world of the living by using an electronic pulse to attract their prey. It can’t be nearly as boring as The Ring 2 was…. could it?

ZOOM – Tim Allen is Captain Zoom and prepares himself for his biggest challenge ever…. to teach a ragtag group of kids to become superheroes. Wait, wasn’t this movie just made recently and called "Sky High?"

August 18th:
Snakes on a Plane – Perhaps the dumbest film of the summer, this one’s getting a ton of press because Samuel L. Jackson is starring in it… and because of the film’s stupid title. You know that I can’t pass this one up! Yeehaw! And I really can’t wait for the following sequels and knock-offs either. Just think of it: "Snakes on a Boat," "Snakes in a School," "Snakes on a Car," "Snakes on a Train," "Snakes in my Brain," and the adult film knock-off "Snakes in my Pants."

August 25th
DOA: Dead or Alive – An all new (non-Uwe Boll) video game turned film about… umm… stuff. While talk about this project has been negative to say the least, there is one thing this movie promises that I don’t mind at all: Busty babes in bikinis playing volleyball!

The Protector – Tony Jaa hits U.S. theaters again with this retitled action epic (its original title is "Tom Yum Goong" a.k.a. "Honor of the Beast") in which Thailand’s own "Fist of Fury" travels to Australia to save his baby bull elephant and give the pachyderm thieves a brutal beating. This movie freakin’ rocks and yes I’ll be there to see it on opening day! WOOHOO!

Well that’s the forecast in cult films for July and August and as you can see there’s plenty of stuff to see…. on DVD. Hollywood is truly tanking this year but I have high hopes that some good films are on the horizon. (I already know that next year is going to rock because "Ghost Rider," "The Transformers," "Spider-Man 3," and several other awesome movies are hitting theaters.) So if you’re wondering if anything worthwhile is going to be in theaters and on DVD over the next month or two, check back on September 1st for the next edition of Rogue Cinema’s very own GENRE WATCH!