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CON: Lionsgate panel




Director James Isaac
Stan Winston

Stan Winston and James Isaac

Lionsgate usually have some great stuff to showcase at the Con and it was with fanboy jitters that I showed up at their panel. First film off the bat? SKINWALKERS, a werewolf film that was shot in Toronto and that stars the “school of wood acting” pretty boy Jason Behr. We were first shown an underwhelming clip and it went like this:

Clip: Bunch of people trapping themselves in contraptions made of chains (why…who knows…we weren’t given a context). A noise is heard upstairs, some dude goes up to investigate, he never returns. Instead a group of “The Lost Boys” rejects show up, they have a back and forth with the chained monkeys, it doesn’t go too well, somebody is stabbed. That’s that on that.

Okay… can’t say I was too impressed by that "meh" clip. I mean, I know nothing of the film, show me something a little bit more engaging, grisly or smutty! Or at least set up the scene for me before hand! Stan Winston went on to praise the project, dropping blessed titles like “The Howling” and “American Werewolf in London” in there, but he didn’t convince me. With that said, what do I know? Exactly. Here’s what I got out of the panel.

  • In Stan Winston’s opinion, CG werewolves lose the essence of the character. That’s why they went with practical effects here.

  • The werewolves here will be unique, like we’ve never seen before. Although done practically, they will still retain the traits of the actors playing them, even when fully transformed. Should be interesting….

  • Winston’s involvement in the project goes like this. He wanted to do a werewolf flick for his company. He read the Skinwalkers script, loved it and was bummed to find out that the script was already optioned by somebody else so he let it go. Two years later Jim Issac approached him to co produce a werewolf flick, yup it was Skinwalkers and yes Isaac was the one who had optioned it. They joined up and did the flick.

  • The film is about people, love and characters first while having its fair share of action and horror.

  • Not many “bells and whistles” in this film, depth, heart and performances came first.

  • The film should see the light of day in early 2007.

  • From what I understood, the flick is about two werewolf camps at odds with each other. One peace and love, the other of the “kill kill” variety.


Jason Statham
Efren Ramirez
Directors Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor

I didn’t need much to sell me on CRANK. Being a huge Jason Statham fan, the man could make a film about the art of knitting and I would be there with bells on. CRANK is about some tough dude who gets injected with a poison that plays on his adrenaline levels. He has to sustain a high level of adrenaline or he’ll die within 90 minutes. He’s also trying to find out who did this to him at the same time. Tough day for the lad. We were first show a clip from the film. Nothing too spectacular.

Clip: Statham in the middle of a fist fight, he tries to end it with his gun but he’s out of bullets. So he picks up a gun (and the severed hand that’s holding it) from the ground and blows some guys brains out all over a drag queen (?!?).

Basic, yet still efficient. I dug the hand held camera style. After that the big man was brought onstage. Statham was all charm! Fit like a horse, smiling constantly with those big whiter than white teeth of his while answering questions with a well oiled sense of humor. Here’s what the panel revealed!

  • CRANK is a no BS action flick. No wires and no CGI. All of the action was done “in camera”. They couldn’t afford otherwise and it worked in the film’s favor.

  • The flick was shot on HD.

  • The scene where Statham’s character dangles from a helicopter in downtown LA was the real deal. It’s really Statham hanging off that copter. Nice!

  • The directors used innovative methods to shoot the film. Like rollerblading through traffic with cameras on their shoulders. Or hanging off the back of a motorcycle on rollerblades, going 40 miles an hour while shooting.

  • The shoot was fast and furious. Lack of funds made sure to keep the directors on their toes.

  • Both directors do everything together (chicks too?), they jokingly said that since neither one of them is to smart, together they make one “smart” person.

  • Statham liked the unpredictable nature of the directors. He never knew what to expect day to day as they would always come up with crazy action stuff for Jason to do on the spot.

  • Statham would work with Guy Ritchie on anything out of loyalty. He’s the one that got him in the film business and they have great chemistry together.

  • The Statham/Ritchie flick REVOLVER should see the light of day in the US soon; they’re presently in negotiation with a distributor.


Director Darren Bousman
Tobin Bell
Leigh Whannell
Shawnee Smith
Producers Oren Koules & Mark Burg

The panel everybody was waiting for at the LG digs, yup SAW III. Cast and crew hopped on stage to answer questions from moderator Orin Koules. Of course not much SAW III info was divulged as their keeping it hush-hush but that’s understandable. The clip they showed us at the end confirmed to me (and the room) that SAW III wasn’t gonna go Care Bears on us. The clip went like this:

Clip: Dude wakes up in what looks like an empty classroom. He has chains tied through his flesh all over his body. Feet, shoulders, bottom lip, the works. Think Hellraiser on steroids. The nearby TV switches on; Jigsaw appears to give his usual type of upbeat speech. A clock starts counting down (yup a bomb) and the dude figures out that he has to rip the chains out of his flesh to turn the bomb off. So he rips them chains out with gusto and in cringe inducing, graphic manners. Rapid editing, crazy 360s shot communicate some of the action…the dude almost makes it…and then BOOM. Title Card kicks in- SAW III.

Writer Leigh Whannell and director Darren Bousman

The clip looked like it could be the opening of the film but I was told otherwise by good sources (my mom yo). One thing is for certain, SAW III obviously doesn’t deviate from what made the other two successful. The scene we saw was gory as hell (MPAA didn’t get to it yet though)! Here’s what else was revealed to my numb skull:

  • The SAW III trailer will premiere on the big screen before The Descent on August 4th. Bummer they didn’t show it to us at Comic Con. COME ON!

  • SAW III brings the character count down compared to Part 2. Fewer characters and more development. Kinda of like the original. Great news to me!

  • Lots of the un-answered questions (and plot holes) found in SAW 1 and 2 will be answered/addressed in SAW III.

  • The fake cougar tattoo on lovely Shawnee Smith’s shoulder has become a pain for her. She had it done for SAW, thinking SAW would be a one shot deal. But now that her role expanded, she’s been stuck having to have that tattoo re-created for both sequels.

  • The challenge in doing SAW II for director Bousman was to stay faithful to Wan’s vision on the original while putting his own visual stamp on the film. He took more leeway on SAW III in terms of having it be a Bousman film.

  • SAW III is as different from SAW II as SAW II was to SAW.

  • Tobin Bell’s (Jigsaw) fav traps are the head trap in the first film and the needle pit from the second flick.

Actors Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith

Source: JoBlo.com



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