‘Blindness’, from novel to screenplay to film

More than ten years after it was published, Jose Saramago‘s Nobel Prize-winning Blindness is about to hit the theaters (release is set for October 3rd by Miramax). In the story, people are suddenly stricken blind. Key words: epidemic, government, quarantine. I’m all for end-of-society stories, so I’m onboard for this flick. The book was first published in Portuguese (1995) and then English (1997) and won the Nobel Prize in 1998.

For more, check out the slick website put up by Miramax. Great open. For the journey to story took from novel to screenplay to screen, the LA Times has an interesting column that came out this week (Joe Penhall, who adapted McCarthy’s The Road, is quoted in the article). The film stars Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore (it also opened the 2008 Cannes Film Festival). You can read Guardian (UK) review of the film here. Peter Bradshaw gave the film 4 stars.

Vampire love comes to HBO

If anyone out there likes vampires, Louisiana, sex, Anna Paquin and watching TV (and who doesn’t?), here is the show for you.  True Blood. HBO’s new series debuted last Sunday,  adapted by Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) and taken from Charlaine Harris‘ (From Dead to Worse, Ice Cold Grave) Southern vampire novels.

The story is set in a small Louisiana town, when availability to synthetic blood allows the main vampire lover, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), to consort with humans without snacking on them.  Oh, but there is plenty of steam, violence, and sexual tension to sink your, well, you get the drift.  Check out the show on HBO, Sundays, 9 p.m.  And if you don’t have HBO and are curious, watch the small 1:30 trailer at the series’s website.

“Fear Itself” debuts, a “The Last Winter” look

I finally caught the debut of NBC’s Fear Itself. Between Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who and the horror flick The Last Winter, I hadn’t had the chance. Reviews were mixed on the Fear Itself premiere episode, written by the show’s creater Mick Garris. CBS’s Swingtown beat Fear Itself in the Nielsen Ratings, getting 5.23 million viewers (18-49 yr-olds) and a 2.0 rating/6 share to CBS’s 8.68 million, 2.8/8.

Writing good horror for the networks is always a tough go.  I would have liked to have seen the first episode breathe a bit more, but who knows what kind of hurtles the production team faced.  The main vampire was creepy, but I went back and forth with the sirens’ motivations.  But then again, it is network TV.  Until the networks open up… This week’s episode is Spooked, with Eric Roberts, directed by The Machinist‘s Brad Anderson.  It’s a bad-cop-in-haunted-house bit.

Meanwhile, the horror movie The Last Winter is a great isolation thriller. One of the tough, early hurdles a speculative fiction writer faces is suspension of disbelief. The Last Winter may actually suspend too well, and when director/writer Larry Fessenden finally shifts gears from global-warming-and-its-consequences straight into creepy town, it takes the viewer a moment to adjust to the idea the film is actually a supernatural horror flick.

While comparisons are there, The Last Winter is not Carpenter’s The Thing, thankfully Fessenden didn’t try. But it’s one of the best stabs I’ve seen in the horror genre at a very current fear–oil and global warming–and what the heck humans may be doing to the world.

NBC’s Fear Itself to take over ER timeslot

…for the summer at least. But the best part of this story is good horror making a comeback on something other than paid television (or the now defunct Monster HD on DISH). Starting to feel more and more like speculative horror is on the upswing. Sure beats the run on serial killer books/flicks so many horror writers were forced into during the 1990’s. This show’s producers come from Showtime’s Masters of Horror series. Here is NBC’s press release on Fear Itself:

“Fear Itself” is a provocative, new 13-episode suspense and horror anthology series set to push the boundaries of this classic genre through a host of provocative talent, both in front of and behind the camera, including award-winning, sought-after directors John Landis (“An American Werewolf in London”), Darren Bousman (“Saw II, III and IV”) and Ronny Yu (“Bride of Chucky”); actors Brandon Routh (“Superman Returns”), Shiri Appleby (“Charlie Wilson’s War”), Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”), Cynthia Watros (“Lost”), Eric Roberts (NBC’s “Heroes”) and John Billingsley (“Star Trek: Enterprise”); and writers, including Joe Gangemi (“Wind Chill,” the novel “Inamorata”), Steve Niles (“30 Days of Night”) and Dan Knauf (“Carnivàle,” “Supernatural”).

Check out more about the show at NBC’s Fear Itself website. The show premieres on June 5th. Make sure to get the popcorn ready.

Posted in TV