Mark Olsen

Feb. 14, 2014 | 1:24 p.m.

Horror cinema: A valentine to genre favorites from two admirers

Horror hall of fame
Two Hero Complex horror fans dig through basement and attic for their favorite fear-inducing films. Click through the gallery for Gina McIntyre and Mark Olsen's five top horror flicks. (Picturehouse; Rosebud Releasing; Universal)
At this time of year the cinematic conversation usually is centered on Oscar front-runners, or the best titles that screened in Park City, Utah, or looking ahead to how much money “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” stands to rake in when it kicks off the summer blockbuster season. But in TV land, “The Walking Dead” is cable’s highest-rated drama. The astonishing popularity of that series owes to a number of factors — compelling characters under constant threat, grappling with what it means to be human in a world beset by inhuman calamity. And also zombies. In other words, all the hallmarks of what makes for the best horror cinema. With that in mind, it seemed a good time to explore the undying popularity of horror movies. As the two L.A. Times writers who most frequently cover the genre, we’re both serious […]
July 10, 2013 | 1:16 p.m.

‘Oldboy’: Red-band trailer for Spike Lee redo recalls shocking original

The red-band trailer for Spike Lee’s remake of “Oldboy” is out, and it suggests that the director’s new film might hew closely to Park Chan-wook’s dizzying, disturbing 2003 original. The trailer lays out the basic premise — a man (Josh Brolin) is abducted and held in captivity for 20 years, until one day he’s mysteriously freed and sets out to learn the identity of his captor and the reason for his imprisonment, forging uneasy alliances and wielding a hammer to exact bloody revenge.(Before you watch, take note that the clip contains strong language and graphic images not suitable for work or for younger readers.) For some cinephiles, the remake, which was written by “I Am Legend” and “Thor” screenwriter Mark Protosevich, is one of the most anticipated releases of the fall. Park’s film is revered as an accomplished cult oddity, […]
Feb. 26, 2013 | 2:08 p.m.

Dolph Lundgren talks career revival, old-school action, ‘Avengers’

Dolph Lundgren (featured image)
A former engineering student and recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to MIT, the Swedish-born Dolph Lundgren first burst on the scene as the Russian boxing machine Ivan Drago in 1985’s “Rocky IV.” Since then he has had a journeyman actor’s career, even directing a handful of films himself. But in the last few years Lundgren has turned from a where-are-they-now trivia question to a retro action antihero, with his roles in both “The Expendables” and “The Expendables 2,” the recent “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” and now “The Package.” “Day of Reckoning” was recently declared “the best film of last year” by no less an august publication than the Paris Review. INTERACTIVE: ’80s action heroes reload For the recent home video release of “The Package,” in which Lundgren plays a ruthless mob boss, Hero Complex was able to talk with […]
Jan. 17, 2013 | 2:00 p.m.

Sundance Film Festival 2013: 8 movies for fans of the fantastic

"The East." (Sundance Film Festival)
Thursday evening sees the kickoff to the 2013 edition of the Sundance Film Festival, the annual indie confab that is the site of plenty of industry dealmaking and celeb-spotting as half of Hollywood seems to descend on Park City, Utah, for 10 days of hard-core movie-watching and celebrating. The 2013 lineup features 119 feature-length films culled from more than 4,000 submissions, and a handful of those have a decidedly Hero Complex bent. With that in mind, here are eight films to look out for. Some might be hard to find — Sundance movies don’t always land national theatrical distribution — but with VOD and online viewing options multiplying at a rapid clip, chances are good you’ll have the opportunity to see these titles in some fashion in the months ahead. SUNDANCE: Full coverage “Computer Chess”: It isn’t a comic-book superhero […]
Dec. 30, 2012 | 2:11 p.m.

2012 in review: 10 movies to see — or see again

Christian Bale as Batman on the Bat-Pod in "The Dark Knight Rises." (Ron Phillips/Warner Bros.)
For fans of fantastic entertainment, it was a bountiful year at the box office. The highest-grossing movies of 2012 starred a collection of superheroes, two strong young woman with mean archery skills (Katniss Everdeen and Merida from “Brave”), a suit-sporting super spy and a mild-mannered hobbit who embarks on an unexpected adventure — not to mention a coven of sparkly vampires and a talking stoner teddy bear. With so many movies to choose from, it’s easy to see how audiences might have overlooked a few gems. So as the year draws to a close, we’ve assembled our top picks for films to belatedly check out — as well as a few that no doubt warrant repeat viewings. “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” Yeah, yeah, so it didn’t take the box office by storm, and critics griped that the movie wasn’t funny. […]
Oct. 27, 2012 | 7:00 a.m.

Composer Claudio Simonetti on Argento, ‘Suspiria’ and ‘Dracula 3D’

ClaudioSimonettiDario Argento
For many people the names Claudio Simonetti, Goblin and Dario Argento are forever intertwined. The Italian composer and musician was a part of the band Goblin when it composed deeply influential music for Argento’s horror films “Deep Red” and “Suspiria,” its sense of grandeur and spooky dynamics blending well with Argento’s baroque visual style. After the band broke up, Simonetti continued to collaborate with Argento — he recently composed the score for Argento’s upcoming “Dracula 3D.” Simonetti will appear twice this weekend at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles. On Saturday he will play as part of the Synthpocalypse Halloween Party (streaming live at and on Sunday, he will sit down for an extended Q&A before a screening of Argento’s “Tenebrae” as part of a members-only event. Earlier this week he talked with Hero Complex […]
Oct. 18, 2012 | 5:13 p.m.

‘Maniac’ strikes LACMA: Bill Lustig on the high art of grindhouse

Joe Spinell in the 1980 film "Maniac." (Blue Underground)
Once, the films of cult auteur Bill Lustig played the grindhouse movie circuit — the kind of one-off indie cinemas specializing in genre films that these days are difficult to find. Tonight, however, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is welcoming Lustig for a Q&A between screenings of his “Maniac” (1980) and “Vigilante” (1983) — the writer-director acknowledged he was somewhat surprised to find himself in a place of high culture. “No doubt about it, from the grindhouse to the L.A. County Museum is quite a leap,” Lustig said delightedly when Hero Complex recently caught up with him. He was calling from Spain, where he was attending the Sitges Film Festival to promote a remake of “Maniac” starring Elijah Wood. “I’ve told people this may be your one and only time to see these films in a cinema where […]
Sept. 21, 2012 | 9:32 a.m.

‘V/H/S’ makers go on tape about ‘found footage’ horror anthology

'V/H/S' (featured image)
Before the anthology horror film “V/H/S” premiered this year at the Sundance Film Festival, there was an air of dark mystery about it. There was no movie poster, and little was known about its story line. The secrecy was intentional on the part of its makers — a group that included Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Ti West and the four-person team known as Radio Silence. They and the film’s producers had decided to remain tight-lipped to boost the movie’s buzz and bolster its reputation as a dangerous cult oddity. When reports emerged of audience members vomiting and fainting at an early screening, its reputation was sealed, no matter that altitude and alcohol might have had more to do with those reactions than any hand-held camera work or on-screen horror. Still, the film is not for the […]
April 02, 2012 | 4:19 p.m.

‘Intruders’ director Fresnadillo talks horror, ‘Highlander’ redo

Intruders (featured image)
With his third feature, “Intruders,” now playing in Los Angeles, the filmmaker Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has created a dark fable for adults, a story about how things that go bump in the night might actually be real. Moving between scenes in London and Spain, the film combines the twin tracks of Fresnadillo’s career, from his Spanish debut “Intacto” to the British “28 Weeks Later.” It begins with a young boy in Spain with a vivid imagination who seems to conjure a boogeyman, a human-looking creature missing a face, into his room at night. The action shifts to London, where a construction worker (Clive Owen) narrowly survives an accident while building a high-rise. At home his daughter begins to see the same nighttime visitor, which they call Hollow Face. Having been attached and then unattached to a variety of projects, including […]
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