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Reel Dread
Dark Prophecies and Bad Omens: Anticipating 2007

By Desmond Reddick
08 January 2007 The year that was 2006 was laid in a drakkar and pushed out to sea. The longbowman beside me raised the trajectory of his bow to the sky before drawing its bowstring tight. The warrior at his side lit the tip of the arrow with a flickering torch. A dull thud signaled the fireball's launch. It lit up the sky as we watched in awe. Moments later, though it seemed like ages, the drakkar burst into flames. The black smoke billowed into the night as the ship drifted into the horizon. As it passed from sight we wished our brother well before a new being rose from its ashes like a phoenix: behold 2007!

Despite the dramatics, it's true: 2006 was a very good year for horror. But it looks like 2007 might just trump it. Come along with me on a journey of what I'm looking forward to in 2007.

My most anticipated film of the year has got to be 300. It isn't horror, sci-fi or fantasy, but it looks to have elements of horror and the fantastic. It also happens to be history's greatest story, and an adaptation of Frank Miller's greatest work in the comic book medium. Time to dust off my copy of Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire.

Behind the Mask: The Rise and Fall of Leslie Vernon is a little bit under the radar at the moment, but look for this to be one of the best of the year. The tagline to the film is "Jason, Freddy, Myers. We All Need Someone To Look Up To." Leslie is a troubled fellow who invites a documentary crew into his life to show them how he's gearing up to be the next great icon of murder in a world where the icons of horror really exist. Looks to be a great satirical play on the slasher subgenre.

I read a lot of classics when I was young: Homer's works, Frankenstein, Dracula and most of Wells' stuff. I managed to get to university before reading Beowulf, and man was I impressed. 2007 sees the release of an adaptation of the epic poem directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman. Not only that, but it will be mostly CG with Crispin Glover as Grendel! Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie round out the cast. It will be hard to hold back the geekgasm.

Last time I spoke a bit about television, so bear with me as I list a few things I'm looking forward to on the talking picture box.

Firstly, Dexter: though I'm majorly looking forward to the second season, I wish they'd cut down on the massive auxiliary cast and focus on two or three of them. It muddles things up with so many cast members, and this show is too full of goodness and potential to have that ruined.

Continuing on with my TV wishes: from Masters of Horror I would like to see the quality improve over the back half of the second season, with this trend continued into the third. The first half of season two has already overtaken all of season one, so I obviously hope this continues. And recruiting directors such as Guillermo del Toro, Roger Corman and George Romero would definitely round out the show with A-list talent.

The final little nugget of television news that will have me eating up 2007 is the adaptation of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's Preacher... on HBO! Now I know it won't be seeing the light of day in 2007, but the news of casting will. I'm more interested in who will play the smaller roles: Arseface, Jody and TC, Starr, John Wayne and Jesse's dad. I'll be reveling in the casting news this year, and you can bet your bippy what television item is going to make next year's "looking forward" article.

There are a few major theatrical releases coming in 2007 that have me excited, and I mean in the horror genre. One shouldn't have to explain beyond the following words: Romero and zombies. Yes, Diary of the Dead hits theatres this year! Instead of following the loose timeline he established in the previous four films, Romero is going back to the first night of the zombie outbreak. This time a group of film students head out to the woods to film a horror movie, and... they run into zombies! This looks to be packed with symbolism as all of the Dead films have been. Starting in a few weeks, this very column will begin to analyze those instances of symbolism.

Grindhouse may be 2007's most interesting release. An anthology film of sorts with two sequences: one directed by Robert Rodriguez and one by Quentin Tarantino. From the footage released online it looks as though it will be more of a 70s exploitation film with tons of scantily clad babes and explosions aplenty. Plus, the greatest selling feature of all: Rose McGowan playing a stripper with a machine gun for a leg. I'm almost equally interested in the faux trailers that will appear during the film, some of which will be directed by Rob Zombie, Eli Roth and Edgar Wright.

Guillermo del Toro looks to be the man of the year with his Spanish-language epic Pan's Labyrinth which has already been heaped with critical praise. The writer / director thrives when he's passionate about the subject matter, and Pan's Labyrinth, set during the Spanish Civil War, looks to be filled with passion. Can't wait for this one.

Onto some smaller budget / indy films that have caught my attention.

Sin-Jin Smyth follows two federal marshals as they transfer a prisoner... on Halloween night. As it turns out the convict is no ordinary prisoner: he's Satan. The cast is wild: Roddy Piper and Richard Tyson as said marshals, Jonathan Davis as Satan, Billy Duffy from The Cult (also scoring the film), Kevin Gage from Heat. I'm psyched. (More about this film in upcoming articles.)

The Host is a Korean monster movie that saw a limited theatrical release late in 2006, but will hit DVD this year. I've never been a big fan of the giant monster subgenre, but last year's rerelease of the original Gojira (alongside its pitifully subpar American re-edit) got my interest peaked.

Like The Host, Severance suffered from a limited release in 2006 but will get its due on DVD in 2007. Its synopsis: a weapons development firm sends its sales division on a team-building exercise in the mountains of Eastern Europe. When a bunch of maniacal rednecks set out to kill them, business looks bad. This horror comedy looks like one part Deliverance, one part Office Space.

The Lost, released in Europe last year, will finally hit North American shores this year. Through the experience of a platoon lost in the woods during World War II, The Lost examines the insanity of war. Apocalypse Now is a horror movie, so don't complain about the inclusion of this one.

There are others that I've left off this list (i.e. 30 Days of Night, Hostel 2, 28 Weeks Later and Hatchet) because I'm not too interested in them right now, but they could wind up surprising me. Then again, with the gems I've already pointed out, who cares if there are a few stinkers? From the looks of things, 2007 will be a very good year.

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