Your latest Mysterious Universe entertainment news round-up, covering the most recent developments in the worlds of sci-fi, fantasy and horror…
'Labyrinth 2' edges closer
Released in 1986 to underwhelming box-office returns, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth has since become a cult classic. Rumours of a sequel have been circulating online for years, but the script for a Labyrinth sequel has now officially been completed. Director Fede Alverez (Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe) recently told Fandango that he is working with Lisa Henson on the project:
“We're very excited about it. It is basically a direct continuation of the first movie many years later, and I can't tell you much more about it... but we have a script, and we're very excited about it so we'll see where that goes. Like always, it takes time and effort to put those movies together because they're larger than life. But that's one of the projects that I'm very excited about.”
The original Labyrinth starred Jennifer Connelly as a frustrated teenager in search of her baby brother who has been spirited away to the faery realm by David Bowie’s Goblin King, Jareth. Whether or not Bowie will appear in the sequel—either in the form of stock footage or CGI—remains to be seen. It is also unknown if Connelly will return, but it seems likely, given the pivotal role Labyrinth played in shaping her career.
Lisa Henson and Duncan Jones (Bowie’s son) will serve as producers. There is currently no official release date for Labyrinth 2, but it seems likely that pre-production may start sometime in 2019.
A reboot of Child’s Play has been given an official release date: 21 June 2019, and it looks like the dreaded Chucky will be benefiting from some 21st Century technology this time around, as hinted at by his packaging in the new poster, which features Wi-Fi signals and instructions to connect Buddi to your tablet, computer and mobile device. Hopefully this will result in some fresh and innovate set pieces because, when it comes to the Child’s Play franchise—with seven films and counting already to its name—it’s getting hard to teach an old doll new tricks.
The reboot will be distributed by MGM and Orion Pictures, and will be directed by Lars Klevberg (Polaroid) from a screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith. Gabriel Bateman will star as Andy Bateman alongside Aubrey Plaza as his mother Karen. No word yet on who is voicing Chucky.
Sabrina witch-hunted by Satanists
The hit show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is currently in a fight for its life against Satan himself, or, at least, the Dark Lord’s mortal representatives. The actual Satanic Temple is suing Netflix and Warner Bros. for copyright infringement to the tune of $50,000,000.
The show follows teenage witch Sabrina Spellman as she attends a school called The Academy of the Unseen Arts, within which stands an imposing statue of the deity Baphomet. The problem? The statue in Sabrina is almost identical to that used by the Satanic Temple, which, believe it or not, holds copyright on the image.
Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves told SFGate they were taking legal action because:
"It looks like it’s a CGI facsimile to begin with. I don’t know how much work that takes, but I simply refuse to have our monument used in this way in perpetuity. I don’t want our monument to be associated with this."
Greaves has called Sabrina “asinine Satanic Panic” in reference to the hysteria about satanic ritual abuse in the ’70s and ’80s, which ultimately led nowhere.
The Satanic Temple sees itself as separate and distinct from LaVeyan Satanists, and feels that its principles and tenets represent "a natural evolution in Satanic thought." Greaves has said that the elements of Social Darwinism and Nietzscheanism within LaVeyan Satanism is incongruent with game theory, reciprocal altruism, and cognitive science.
A second season of Sabrina has already been confirmed and can be expected as early as February 2019. Whether or not the Satanic Temple’s legal action will affect the series going forward remains to be seen.
Horror maestro may strike again from beyond the grave
The late great horror director George A. Romero was known for the searing social and political satire that ran through his work, particularly in his Living Dead series of films. But Romero’s passing last year may not have ended his assault on establishment sensibilities. In 1973, Romero made a film so controversial that was never released. Daniel Kraus, an author who’s collaborated with Guillermo del Toro, was recently privileged to a private viewing of the film, titled The Amusement Park, and Tweeted that he was blown away by what he saw. Kraus even went so far as to call it a revelation and compared its horrific impact to Romero’s 1968 masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead, describing it as “hugely upsetting in form & function.”
30 years ago, the scholar Tony Williams wrote of The Amusement Park, “The film is far too powerful for American society… It must remain under lock & key never seeing the light of day,” Kraus said in a follow-up tweet. “It was never shown publicly. The people who funded it wouldn’t allow it. And no wonder. It’s hellish. In Romero’s long career of criticizing American institutions, never was he so merciless.”
Kraus is frustrated that audiences currently do not have the option to see The Amusement Park, but he's vowed to figure out a way to change that. “This is truly one of those magical (cursed?) objects that I cannot believe has fallen through the cinematic cracks,” said Kraus. “We’ll drag it back.”
Filming complete on Avatar sequels
The long awaited sequels to the highest grossing film of all time have just wrapped their principal photography, director James Cameron announced last week. Avatar 2 and 3 have been filming since September 2017 and promise to significantly expand the rich alien environments we experienced in the first film, which was released almost a decade ago.
In a video message, the Oscar-winning director said:
“Hi, James Cameron here, and today I’m coming to you from the set of the Avatar sequels—and behind me you can see our performance-capture stage. Today we’re capturing some stunt scenes filming some stunt scenes but our principal cast are all wrapped: Sam [Worthington], Zoe [Saldana], Sigourney [Weaver], Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet.”
Cameron added: “They’re done now but they gave us incredible performances. And I can’t tell you how proud I am of the work that they did on these films.”
Avatar 2 is expected in theaters on December 18, 2020, and will be followed by Avatar 3 on December 17, 2021. If they’re successful, Cameron has promised (or threatened, depending on your perspective) two additional sequels to follow.