Summer Movie Preview: Sci-Fi and Horror


Part two of our summer preview combines two genres not getting a whole lot of love this summer, science fiction and horror, albeit the summer’s most anticipated film is quite possibly at the top of this list.

Of these six films, only three are particularly noteworthy. This a much more action-bent summer than past summers, but perhaps I only say that because “Star Trek” and “District 9” were two of the year’s biggest films and both came out last summer. Either way, the numbers don’t lie: three sci-fi films and three horror compared to ten action/fantasy movies.

Once again, a reminder that these films are ranked more so based on anticipation with only a little bit of my opinion mixed in.

6. The Last Exorcism (Aug. 27)

The Word: Not feeling up to “Piranha” in late August? Well that weekend you can check out an exorcism film that strives to be in the same vein as “Cloverfield,” “Paranormal Activity” and any other documentary-style horror films I don’t know of out there. StudioCanal and Lionsgate present a movie about a minister who agrees to have his final exorcism documented by a camera crew.

My Thoughts: A natural and clever extension of the docu-horror concept. Can’t say much else considering the cast is full of relatively unknowns, the director is fairly new and there’s no trailer or any sort of promo materials out yet.

poster_ofthdead5. George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead

The Word: Zombie horror legend George A. Romero returns with yet another installment of his beloved franchise (I think this is number five or is it seven?), this one entitled “Survival of the Dead,” which has a deliciously ironic tone. The zombie action takes place this time on a small island where the people there fight for their lives while also trying to cure the undead, because on a small island, you’re going to know most people and it’s hard to just let them be dead.

My Thoughts: I’m a newbie to the “Dead” films, having only experienced the 1968 original and working my way up, but I don’t expect to get this far. Usually it says something when a franchise survives 40 years, but there hasn’t been a lot of positive feedback for any of the 21st Century “Dead” films. “Survival” was on the festival circuit all last year and garnered mixed reviews. (View Trailer)

poster_piranha-3d4. Piranha 3-D (Aug. 27)

The Word: Pine for the days of “Jaws” again? The flesh-eating piranha concept is not new, as filmmakers tried to get in on the “Jaws” fever back in ’70s with a couple piranha films.

The plot then is self-explanatory. A local sheriff (Elizabeth Shue) does everything in her power to end a giant pre-historic piranha scare in her town. Adam Scott of Starz’ “Party Down” co-stars and amusingly enough, “Jaws” star Richard Dreyfuss is in it as well.

My Thoughts: 3-D being attached to this title screams gimmick, not that a piranha attack movie wouldn’t. A spring break movie will be a hard sell come Aug. 27 when those partying college kids will most likely be in their first week of classes or getting ready to start again. You also probably don’t need me to tell you that this is a glorified B-movie. (View Trailer)

predators3. Predators (July 9)

The Word: Robert Rodriguez produces a reboot of sorts of the classic Predator films. Thankfully, this time the aliens have been left out of it. In this version, a group of elite killer, which includes Danny Trejo, Laurence Fishburne and two skinny white guys (Adrien Brody and Topher Grace), find themselves on a strange planet inhabited by predators. Yes, multiple. Then it becomes all about survival. Who will win? Our best killers or these creatures with innate killer instincts?

My Thoughts: I can’t vouch for director Nimrod Antal’s credibility as “Armored” and “Vacancy” were only so-so, but the latter was better than the former from what I gather, so a horror-bent project should elicit more optimism. Plus, if Rodriguez likes him, I’ll take his word. The trailer backs up the fear-factor element. Big-name stars are also encouraging as it usually means the script is solid. The trailer is also cautious about exposing the predators, which is part of what made the original so compelling, so if that translates to the film, it could be good. (View Trailer)

Splice poster12. Splice (June 4)

The Word: Vincenzo Natali’s small sci-fi ethics horror thriller scored so much positive buzz from Sundance that it was swooped up for a very favorable release from Warner Bros. The movie stars Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as two scientists who take a step too far and create a creature with a hybrid of human and animal DNA. The movie then goes from science drama to horror when the creature ages rapidly and gets loose.

My Thoughts: I’m a big backer of entertainment with brains, so the thought the concept of fusing two genres together like this is thrilling. Certainly that same sentiment intrigued WB as well as the many people who’ve been hyping up this film since January. “Splice” will challenge three comedies on June 4, so while it might not bust open the box office, it stands a good chance of being recognized, especially if it gets raves. (View Trailer)

inception1. Inception (July 16)

The Word: It’s not really fair to call this “The Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan’s new film as he made plenty of great films before “The Dark Knight” that were a bit more like this one. The public should know that, because this is not going to be typical blockbuster fare. It’s going to be mind-bending science fiction/mystery and half the people who think to see it probably won’t get it. I might not even get it. Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this film about “freelance dream thieves” who can enter people’s thoughts in attempt to steal their ideas. At least I think that’s what it’s about.

My Thoughts: I loved “Memento” and “The Prestige” just as much as the Batman films, so at the least I can say I’m stoked for Nolan’s take on a film that feels like a mix between two of my favorite films, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Dark City.” I love reality-altering science fiction almost more than any genre, let alone when it comes from the director inspiring today’s young filmmakers. Did I mention that as a creative person, I love works that thematically discuss ideas? If this is good, I might have found my cinematic soul mate. (View Trailer)

Tomorrow I’ll give you the word on the nine romance dramas and comedies due out this summer.