More insights from this year’s WonderCon, as we were treated to a trio of upcoming horror flicks: "The Hills Have Eyes," "The Omen," and "Silent Hill."
One of the day’s biggest panels kicked off with an appearance by frightmaster Wes Craven, who sat down with three stars of his upcoming remake…of his own 1977 classic, "The Hills Have Eyes" — Vinessa Shaw, Aaron Stanford, and Dan Byrd. As with the original, this remake tells the story of a suburban family whose car breaks down on a road trip through the desert, who find themselves battling for survival with a band of unsocialized, murderous hill people.
The 1977 "Hills" was scripted and directed by Craven himself, who now takes a producing credit and leaves the direction and screenplay adaptation to Alexandre Aja. Aja’s French axe-murderer thriller "High Tension" established him last year in the confidences of gore-hounds, and Craven’s repeated endorsements at the panel suggest that the master is very happy indeed with his successor.
After fielding questions (Craven revealed he’d approved dailies remotely during production while on the set of his own thriller, "Red Eye") the panel presented a short scene from "Hills;" short, but the rolling soundtrack, dim atmosphere and, oh yeah, that freaky scary guy that pops up out of nowhere all made the scene incredibly tense. The clip, however, was upstaged by a question from the audience as a fan asked Craven himself for her money back from watching 2005’s "Cursed."
Craven took it in stride, advising her to watch the "Cursed" DVD "to see the movie that [he] made." Then he slyly plotted her demise.
Director John Moore came out next to talk about another horror remake: his summer thriller, "The Omen." A trailer screened: a simple pan slowly moving through an empty playground, coming to rest on a young boy on a swing. An EVIL young boy on a swing, that is. It was simple, but effective; see it here.
Moore also presented a few more hilarious teaser trailers (in one, a little girl playing inside hears a noise, wanders to the window and drops her dolly in shock as she sees the ground outside littered with dead birds; in another, a man sits on his porch with his family, constructing cross after cross as his wife nails them frantically to their house).
We were also treated to preview a scene from "The Omen," which has updated the ages and political standing of evil little Damien’s parents to reflect a younger, more upwardly mobile (and professionally hungry) couple than the original. Moore played the birthday party scene (so similar to that in the original that the word "homage" was thrown around), perhaps one of the most notorious parts of the original "Omen," in which a nanny joyfully hangs herself in front of a lavish birthday celebration.
With Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles as the tortured, horrified parents, creepy little newcomer Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick as Damien, and an appearance by Mia Farrow as Mrs. Baylock, Moore’s "Omen" just may succeed with a wide audience where the previous four installments ("The Omen" (1976), "Damien: Omen II" (1978), "The Final Conflict" (1981) and "Omen IV: The Awakening" (1991)) had grown increasingly campy and diluted.
Last but not least, actress Deborah Kara Unger arrived to introduce a clip from "Silent Hill," an upcoming thriller based on the bone-chilling video game of the same name. Gore fans will be pleased; of the entire day’s panel, this was the first clip preceded by a warning to parents to shield the eyes of their children, and was it ever warranted. In this clip, central character Rose (Radha Mitchell) is fleeing an unseen terror along with a class full of children and women; one woman falls behind, and is caught by a deadly creature; gasps ensue as the audience collectively recoils in visceral disgust. If that sounds like your kind of thing, this movie is for you.