Del Toro’s Monsters

Del-ToroLast week Guillermo del Toro’s latest film The Shape of Water opened in theaters across the country to excellent reviews. It is the latest installment in del Toro’s long history of re-examining what it means to be a monster, even in a world where what we consider paranormal forces and circumstances are commonplace and all around us. Birth. Movies. Death has an article up that examines del Toro’s fascination with and love of monsters throughout his film career, and his propensity for treating them as heroes.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army aligns Hellboy with Frankenstein’s creature, a misunderstood hero regarded as a “freak” even by the people he protects. Liz’s recognition of Hellboy as a man and her love for Hellboy quite literally saves his life. And Mimic is the redemptive version of Frankenstein: entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) plays god, creating a new kind of creature to save humanity without considering the consequences. It’s not until she’s willing to risk her own life to save a little boy from these giant insects that humankind is redeemed.

In the director’s cut of Mimic, the film opens with the gruesome death of a priest backgrounded by a giant neon cross that reads, “Jesus Saves.” But it’s Susan who becomes a Christ figure: to distract a blood-loving man-size insect in order to save the life of a little boy, she gives herself stigmata with a rosary. Monsters are often saviors in del Toro’s universe as well. In Blade II, Blade saves the human race from vampires trying to create an ascendant race: the Reapers. Blade is crucified, spikes driven through his legs and hands. He then indulges his darkest impulse — his thirst — and drinking blood gives him the strength to be reborn, to fight more vampires, and to save the world. Hellboy opens on an image of Christ on the cross at the scene of Hellboy’s birth. Hellboy carries his adoptive father Professor Broom’s rosary, and at the film’s climax, his handler Agent Myers uses the rosary to remind him who he is: even though he’s destined to usher in the apocalypse, Hellboy can resist his fate, and he chooses to do the right thing by not ending the world.

In Guillermo del Toro’s universe, the real monsters are almost exclusively human: the fascists of Pan’s Labyrinth, Thomas’s and Lucille’s abusive parents in Crimson Peak, Hellboy’s Nazis, Blade II’s Nazi-esque vampires. They are villains obsessed with perfection, order. Cruelty and control and materialism define them. But even the most villainous monsters in del Toro’s films can be sympathetic. We may not love them, but we understand them — even Pan Labyrinth’s sadistic, legacy-obsessed captain Vidal or The Devil’s Backbone’s greed-driven Jacinto, once “the loneliest boy in the orphanage.”

Crimson Peak’s Lucille (Jessica Chastain) is like Jane Eyre’s Bertha Rochester, given her own narrative beyond “the madwoman in the attic.” In voiceover Lucille explains: “Love makes monsters of us all.” But even Lucille isn’t the real monster here — it’s Thomas’s and Lucille’s parents who kept them locked in the attic and beat them. In character backstories written for Lucille and Thomas Sharpe, del Toro describes their mother as an “object of abuse,” and their father as “a shadow, a noise, an omen.” Perhaps the only truly evil entity in del Toro’s body of work is the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth, a child-consuming creature who represents the church and, according to del Toro, “all institutional evil feeding on the helpless.”

We here at Moonfire are big fans of del Toro’s work, and wish him a long career with many more successes ahead of him. His films never fail to captivate, and his vision is unique, whether he is shooting a Hollywood action movie or a smaller, more personal artistic film.

A Darker Pinocchio

pinocchio-poster-jpgDisney’s Pinocchio is a masterpiece of children’s animation that is famous the world over. But, no surprise, the original story is darker and more nuanced than the Disney version. That stands to reason – after all, the whole idea of a puppet wanting to be a “real boy” and coming to life is at it’s base pretty creepy. Disney is also known for giving Grimm’s fairy tales the same treatment, to the point that the happy, sanitized versions are far better known than the originals.

But now several projects are underway that hope to bring a darker, more authentic version of the Pinocchio story to the screen. The filmmakers hope to capitalize on a similar approach to that taken by Tim Burton in his latest rendition of Alice in Wonderland, which turned out to be a huge hit.

Jereremy Thomas, the Oscar-winning British producer, is making a screen version with Matteo Garrone, the Italian director of acclaimed mob drama Gomorrah, while Robert Downey Jr is developing a separate project with American Beauty producer Dan Jinks. Guillermo del Toro, the Pan’s Labyrinth director, has also long been planning his own ambitious stop-motion production, re-imagining Pinocchio as an anti-fascist story. Although he announced last week that he has so far been unable to finance it, he has been collaborating with the Jim Henson Company, and is still hoping to make it happen. Chris Weitz, who wrote Disney’s Cinderella remake, is reportedly working on another project.

The National Theatre production, which opens on 1 December, is being staged in partnership with Disney Theatrical Productions and director John Tiffany, whose staging of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child received a record number of Olivier awards. It promises to bring Pinocchio to life “as never before”, and has made new arrangements of the much-loved songs from Disney’s original 1940 animated film, including I’ve Got No Strings.

The Adventures of Pinocchio was written by Carlo Lorenzini, under the pseudonym Carlo Collodi. Serialised in a children’s magazine in 1881, it was published as a book in 1883. The genius of Disney’s animation is a hard act to follow, but there have been many attempts to adapt the story for the screen, most recently, Roberto Benigni’s 2002 Pinocchio, which had mixed reviews.

In Jinks’s Pinocchio, Downey Jr will star as the father, Geppetto. Asked why Pinocchio is now inspiring so many productions, Jinks said: “The world changed when Tim Burton directed Alice in Wonderland seven years ago. It became one of the top-grossing pictures in history [making more than $1bn] and so everybody looked at giant titles that were in the public domain that could possibly be exploited. That’s literally what I did. I had been working with [writer/producer] Bryan Fuller … I pitched him five titles in the public domain and one was Pinocchio. If I’m doing that, other people are. Now some of these things are coming closer to fruition.”

Burton is a master of the macabre whose take on Lewis Carroll’s classic story reached an audience beyond children. Producers now believe that Pinocchio has similar potential.

I have no idea if any of these productions will be as successful as the Burton film, but I wish the producers luck. It’s about time that versions of these stories were widely released that retain the original tone and context, as opposed to sanitized animated versions made “safe” for small children. The original texts are not necessarily the fun, happy stories that they have generally been adapted into, and retaining and if necessary restoring the original content is important. Otherwise, much of it could be lost.

Stephen King’s “IT” Hits Theaters September 8th

Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me.

Movie Trailer

Is Keanu Reeves Immortal?

Immortal celebrities are now a thing. As the information age allows us to digitize more and more images, and advanced search engines allow us to comb through them, we can identify photographs and portraits from the past that look like well-known people from the present day.

Paranormal should never be the first explanation for these phenomena, since the whole point of paranormal events is that they are by nature unlikely and unusual. On the other hand, some of these likenesses from the past are awfully close their modern-day counterparts.

Keanu Reeves has been the subject of immortal speculation for some time. There’s even a whole website dedicated to exposing the actor’s immortal nature and previous identities, The site notes that he barely seems to age, and lists his dopplegangers from the past. There are only two so far, and one of them is kind of a stretch, but still. According to the website, these are Keanu’s confirmed identities through the ages.

Charlemagne (748-814)

Aside from the striking resemblance, the account of the death of Charlemagne rise suspicion.First of all he crowned his son just before dying (just like he knew he was going to “die”) secondly his burial was rushed during cold weather this is a clear hint that they needed to bury a body to not rise any suspicion.

Paul Mounet (1847-1922)

Aside from the striking resemblance, there are sevaral facts that without any reasonable doubt shows that Paul Mounet is Keanu Reeves. He was a doctor first and then an actor, the rise of the medical science could’ve been a problem to an immortal, by becoming a baron of the medicine he gained protection from any kind of inquiry about his everlasting appearance. Paul Mounet allegedly died in 1922 although his body was never found.

Charlemagne is probably a stretch. The main point of resemblance is that he has a similar long, oval face, but tons of people look like that. Also, we have a number of conflicting portraits of him, and when that happens it’s easy to look through them and pick the best match.

On the other hand, take a look at the portrait accompanying this article. That’s not a promo piece of Keanu Reeves from Bram Stoker’s Dracula or something. That’s Paul Mounet, and the resemblance is uncanny. If his body was really never found, maybe he lived on after all.

RIP George Romero

george-romero-and-zombieFilmmaker and horror icon George Romero, creator of the modern zombie, has passed away today at the age of 77. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, released in 1968, completely redefined the zombie genre. It spawned a long list of sequels and many imitators, who picked up the film’s “zombie rules” and ran with them.

George Romero, the legendary filmmaker who changed the horror world forever with Night of the Living Dead and its sequels, has died of lung cancer at the age of 77.

Romero will be forever remembered for his iconic contribution to horror, not just through his birth of the zombie genre as we know it today in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead and its litany of sequels all the way up to 2009’s Survival of the Dead, but for his work on Creepshow, Monkey Shine, The Dark Half, and dozens of other film and TV projects. Romero was still working even this year, recently unveiling plans for a new of the Dead film about NASCAR zombies.

Romero is survived by his wife and three children, and our thoughts go out to his family at this sad time.

George Romero is entirely responsible for the modern zombie myth that has given rise to pub crawls and apocalyptic musings. He invented everything from the slow, stiff movements to the rotting appearance to the craving for brains and the infectious bites. He was a singular, brilliant talent in the horror genre, and he will be missed.

Evil Dead 2 Cabin Wall for Sale

evil-dead-2_cabinHere’s an item of interest to horror movie buffs everywhere. A piece of the original cabin that was used for filming Evil Dead 2 is now for sale on ebay. The cabin was constructed is 1986 for exterior shots that couldn’t easily be done with artificial sets. In 2016, what was left of the broken-down cabin was removed from the property in the woods. And now, if you’re so inclined, you can buy a piece of it.

“This is the actual exterior wall from the front upper left side of the original Evil Dead II Cabin,” the ebay listing says. “In relation to the movie, this piece would have been above the clock and cellar door. The wall is fully intact. It is approximately 16 feet long and pretty heavy.” The piece was retrieved from the woods outside of Wadesboro, North Carolina in April of 2016 by Evil Dead fan Mike Pasquale, who runs the Evil Dead Workshed website.

The Evil Dead 2 production crew rolled into Wadesboro in the summer of 1986. They set up shop in the empty J. R. Faison Junior High School building, where sets were constructed for interior shots of the cabin where Ash (Bruce Campbell) would face off against the grotesque deadites unleashed by incantations from the Necronomicon. The school wouldn’t cut it for the exterior shots, though, so the cabin, as well as the work shed where Ash hacks up his possessed girlfriend with a chainsaw, were built in the woods outside of town.

Pasquale first got in contact with the current owners of the property in 2011 hoping to explore what remained of the iconic filming location. “The owners are elderly people that have not seen nor do they care to see any of the Evil Dead movies,” he wrote. “In fact, when talking to the owner, he walked into the woods to see the site for himself for the first time after owning the property for the past 18 years.”

In 2016 the decision was made to clear out the woods. They planned to remove trees for firewood and drastically change the landscape, which would result in the destruction of the Evil Dead set pieces. Pasquale was given permission to recover as much of it as possible. He spent two days in the woods with a friend for what he called Operation: Evil Dead Uproot, labeling every plank and frame board, dismantling and loading anything salvageable into a 24-foot moving truck.

If you’re interested in owning a piece of movie history, the ebay listing can be found here. The auction ends in four days. The auction description does not mention whether any hungry zombies or remnants of magical curses from the Necronomicon come with the wall section.

Universal’s Dark Universe

Monster fans rejoice! Following the recent remake of The Mummy, Universal Pictures has plans to release remakes of its most famous classic horror films. They will be released over the next few years, and will include The Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolf Man among others.

We already know about The Bride of Frankenstein being next at bat on February 14, 2019 with Beauty and the Beast’s Bill Condon directing from a screenplay by Jurassic Park’s David Koepp. Angelina Jolie and Javier Bardem are expected to star. And Johnny Depp has officially inked a deal to headline The Invisible Man and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is rumored to transform himself into The Wolfman.

Now Universal has announced the next round of reboots to be interwoven into the family fold with plans to produce updated versions of Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. If you paid close attention to some of The Mummy trailers you can see what appears to be Dracula’s skull in a jar inside Dr. Jekyll’s Prodigium, and what seems to be a fin from The Creature From The Black Lagoon so at least one of these titles was anticipated, but the other pair is a pleasant surprise.

Dark Universe creative chief Alex Kurtzman confirmed the news during an interview with Fandom during The Mummy’s press tour:

“We know we’re going to do Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Invisible Man. There are characters within those films that can grow and expand and maybe even spin off,” he told the site. “I think that digging into deep mythologies about monsters around the world is fair game for us, as well and connecting the monsters that we know to some surprising monsters could also be really interesting. I’d love to bring Michael Fassbender in, I’d love to bring Jennifer Lawrence in, I’d love to see Charlize Theron in there, Angelina Jolie…”

Phantom (1925) and Hunchback (1923) were two of the first horror movies Carl Laemmle ever produced for Universal, both starring “The Man Of A Thousand Faces,” the legendary Lon Chaney. They will join the previous mention films in this expanded lineup all under the Dark Universe umbrella. Whether or not Universal’s Dracula reboot or spin-off will be based on the 2014 Luke Evans film, Dracula Untold, is yet to be determined.

It sounds like Universal has taken a cue from the success of the Marvel Universe films and plans to do something similar with its horror catalog. So assuming that all these remakes are well-done, monster fans have a lot to look forward to. The Bride of Frankenstein is scheduled to open next February. There’s no word yet on release dates for any of the others, but we’ll keep you all posted as soon as they are announced.

Jesus and Judas versus Zombies

once-upon-a-time-in-jerusalemFirst there was Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter, a low-budget Canadian film that featured Jesus and the Mexican wrestler Santos teaming up to do battle with the undead. Now, the new film Once Upon a Time in Jerusalem takes us to a world in which Jesus accidentally unleashes a zombie apocalypse, and must join up with infamous disciple Judas to put it down.

Variety is reporting that Films Boutique has acquired the international distribution rights to Once Upon a Time in Jerusalem, the feature debut of David Munoz and Adrian Cardona, the duo behind the short film Fist of Jesus.

The film “follows the adventures of Jesus and Judas in a world inhabited by zombies, demons, cowboys, Roman soldiers, mutants, post-apocalyptic punks and all kind of critters. After failing to resurrect Lazarus from the dead, a young Jesus accidentally creates a zombie apocalypse, which Jesus and Judas battle, recruiting 11 mercenaries.”

Check out the new adventures of Jesus and Judas. The zombie apocalypse, and Christianity, will never be the same!

Reinventing the Zombie

The zombie genre has gone through many changes over the years, and the process has really never stopped. This article talks about how zombies became the monsters that we find today in popular media.

You might be thinking that you know all things zombie. You can quote Daryl Dixon lines from “The Walking Dead” in your sleep, and you know that if the apocalypse starts tomorrow, you can best eradicate a zombie by shooting it in the head. But did you know that the word “zombie” didn’t enter the English language until 1871? And it wasn’t until 1929 that the word specifically denoted a person who had came back from the dead? Or what about the fact that in the original script of the 1968 movie “Night of the Living Dead,” the director referred to these versions of the modern-day zombie as “ghouls”?

Here’s the truth about zombies: They go far deeper than a decades-long pop culture trend, as do their symbolic themes of conformity, lifelessness and self-destruction. In the 21st century, it seems to be the zombie that most often satirizes the cultural tendency toward isolation, and reroutes living humans back toward community and a life away from society-enabled obsessions.

Modern zombies are unusual in that unlike most monsters, they aren’t rooted in folklore or mythology. The closest is probably the Haitian zombie, but even there the rotting flesh, craving for brains, and viral or viral-like infection that can be passed on by bites are nowhere to be found. Haitian zombies are alleged to be corpses reanimated by a magical ceremony, and it takes a lot more than a bite to create one.

The article goes on to describe several current books, television series, and films that are reinventing the zombie genre. If you’re fan, check them out!

British Folk Horror on the Rise

‘The Wicker Man’ – Christopher Lee (1973)
According to this article from The Guardian, British “folk horror,” a term coined by British actor and screenwriter Mark Gatiss, seems to be on the rise in recent years. Back in the 1970’s, a wave of popular films were released fitting this genre, in which the British countryside is seen as a place of ancient, forgotten horrors that await discovery by modern people – to whom they are often deadly.

According to Gatiss, folk horror’s central trinity consists of three films from the late 1960s and early 70s: Michael Reeves’s ‘Witchfinder General,’ a brooding tale of sadism and revenge in East Anglia during the civil war; Piers Haggard’s ‘Blood on Satan’s Claw,’ in which a cult of adolescents hundreds of years ago commit a series of murders in order to incarnate Satan in the countryside; and Robin Hardy’s ‘The Wicker Man,’ about a policeman lured into being a human sacrifice for island-dwelling pagans.

However, a new wave has appeared in the last decade. It includes: Ben Wheatley’s ‘Kill List,’ which begins like ‘Get Carter,’ with hitmen out on a job, and ends with a terrifying twist; David Keating’s eerie, gory ‘Wake Wood,’ about a couple who move to a village after the death of their daughter; and, in print, Andrew Michael Hurley’s recent sombre masterpiece ‘The Loney,’ in which a family go on a pilgrimage to a shrine, seeking a cure for the elder brother.

Folk horror, which is the subject of a new season at the Barbican, presents the dark dreams Britain has of itself. The films pick up on folk’s association with the tribal and the rooted. And our tribe turns out to be a savage one: the countryside harbours forgotten cruelties, with the old ways untouched by modernity and marked by half-remembered rituals.

So if you’re British and find yourself wandering in one of the country’s remaining rural regions, keep an eye out for anything spooky or weird. Something twisted, demented, or evil might be hiding just beyond that next stand of trees, and if you aren’t careful it could cost you your life.