Today at 2006 Comic-Con International, Lionsgate previewed some of their upcoming horror/thriller releases.

SKINWALKERS

Up first was Skinwalkers presented by producer Stan Winston and director James Isaacs. Skinwalkers is a horror action film about a 12-year-old boy who suddenly finds himself at the center of a battle between two warring groups of werewolves. One group of werewolves is sworn to protect him, the other group is trying to kill him -- and the young boy's mother has to find out why her son is at the center of the conflict before time runs out

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They began by presenting a clip of the film which featured a lengthy dramatic moment between four people in what looked like a basement. Suddenly, characters start being killed and while the clip was very ambiguous, it seemed to focus quite heavily on the dialogue and interpersonal relationships between all the main characters. "I've been a werewolf fan since I was a kid," stated Stan Winston. "For me it's all about character." He then talked about the pitfalls of letting "technology get in front of the story." To bring the point home, he proudly declared how the werewolves in the film were not done in CGI.

After explaining more about the story (because some of the fans in question seemed perplexed by the short clip they had seen), director James Isaacs only had a brief time to talk. He discussed making a film like Jason X compared with the more cerebral Skinwalkers.

"This is the kind of movie I've always wanted to make." Isaacs stated simply.

Skinwalkers comes to theaters in early 2007.

CRANK

After this the directing team behind Crank, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, as well as actors Jason Statham and Efren Ramirez took the stage to discuss their rapidly charged film.

Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is about to begin his morning with an unexpected wake-up call. Groggy, practically unable to move and with a heart that's barely beating, he hears the voice of thug Ricky Verona, who reveals Chev has been poisoned in his sleep and only has an hour to live.

As it turns out, Chev is a hit man who freelances for a major West Coast syndicate. A run of the mill job the night before instead went awry: he let his target slip away in an effort to quit professional killing and start a new life with his girlfriend Eve.

Now, Chev must keep moving to stay alive: the only way to prolong the poison from stopping his heart is to keep his adrenaline flowing. As the clock ticks, Chelios cuts a swath through the streets of Los Angeles, wreaking havoc on those who dare stand in his way. He must rescue Eve from danger, stay two steps ahead of his nemeses and search for an antidote to save his own life.

For starters we were shown a fight scene in which Kaylo (Efren Ramirez) gets some help from Chev in a fight scene. After slicing off someones hand and shooting all his bullets, Chev must now utilize the decapitated hand which is holding a gun to kill the man who is after Kaylo. Needless to say, the audience was both shocked and thrilled by this scene they had just witnessed.

After this the panel fielded questions from the audience. When talking about what was different about this action movie as opposed to the others Statham has done he said, "Everything we shoot is all in camera." He went on to say that the fact that this movie was shot in HD made the production a lot easier in terms of getting different and interesting shots. Statham was then asked about what it's like shooting a scene where he was actually dangled over downtown LA.

"Well," the actor laughed, "I just gave (my directors) a kiss on the cheek."

Efren Ramirez desribed the difference between doing this film as opposed to Napoleon Dynamite, "It's like having Red Bull for breakfast, lunch and dinner."

Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor briefly mentioned some stunts that Statham had performed wearing nothing but a nurses gown.

"I tied a not in it." Statham laughed.

"Movies are a colloboration," Mark Neveldine stated when discussing his working relationship with Brian Taylor. "We wrote the movie together and we changed the movie together.

Crank hits theaters September 1st 2006.

SAW III

Lastly, Saw III brought down the house when director Darren Lynn Bousman, cowriter Leigh Whannell and actors Shawnee Smith (Amanda) and Tobin Bell (John Kramer/Jigsaw) took the stage.

Jigsaw has disappeared.

With his new apprentice Amanda (Shawnee Smith), the puppet-master behind the cruel, intricate games that have terrified a community and baffled police has once again eluded capture and vanished. While city detectives scramble to locate him, Doctor Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) is unaware that she is about to become the latest pawn on his vicious chessboard.

One night, after finishing a shift at her hospital, Lynn is kidnapped and taken to an abandoned warehouse where she meets Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), bedridden and on the verge of death. She is told that she must keep the madman alive for as long as it takes Jeff (Angus Macfayden), another of his victims, to complete a game of his own. Racing against the ticking clock of Jigsaw's own heartbeat, Lynn and Jeff struggle to make it through each of their vicious tests, unaware that he has a much bigger plan for both of them...

First, Bell described playing Jigsaw. "I read the script very carefully. I try to never sell out the characters that I play."

Shawnee Smith discussed how a half day of work in the first Saw turned into a character that has become integral in the series. "I never would have guessed that it would have turned into this."

When asked about what we can expect from Saw III Darren Bousman described it as making "Saw II look like a Disney film." This naturally brought up questions of keeping the "Saw" story fresh. "It's hard when you are at number three," screenwriter Leigh Whannell laughed. "What do we do now? The goal of the third one was keeping it going."

Whannell also went on to say that Saw III will provide a certain degree of finite answers to the fans. "Questions will be answered from the previous films," he stated.

When asked which trap Tobin Bell had a specific fondness for from all the Saw movies he said, "Amanda's trap in the first one." For Darren Lynn Bousman it was the razor wire.

The final order of business was playing a clip from Saw III in which a character has chains attached to various parts of his body. The chains are supposed to represent the barriers that this character has had in his life as he has run afoul of the law many times; all of this is told to us through Jigsaw on a TV. As usual, a clock starts ticking and our frantic character only has a certain amount of time before he is killed. He starts ripping the chains out of his flesh as he races against the clock. Finally, he comes down to the final chain that is in his mouth. He rips it out but we never find out if he made it because right then a title card for Saw III appeared.

Saw III hits theaters October 27th, 2006.

Cinemark Movie Club
Evan Jacobs