5 Reasons Why Horror Super-Fans Should Check Out Universal’s Hollywood Horror Nights

Ghostbusters Haunted House, Halloween Horror Nights, Orlando, Florida

As the summer blockbuster season wraps up, many movie fans are scrambling to find titles left to look forward to in 2019. But we’re also approaching the time of year when many of us finally start to feel in our element. The leaves are changing, Horror movies are being binged on Netflix and the annual Halloween Horror Nights is kicking off at Universal Studios. I’m talking about All Hallows’ Eve, the wonderful holiday more commonly known as Halloween, and all the scares that come along with it. But not all Horror fans like their fears to get up close and personal. Some prefer to keep the monsters on the big screen. Those people are missing out.

This year, CinemaBlend toured Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, Florida, on their special “R.I.P. Tour”. The event boasts ten haunted houses, five scare zones, two live shows, and immerses thrill-seekers as active participants, putting them right in the middle of it all. Here are five reasons why fans of the Horror genre should get in on the live-action.

Stranger Things Haunted House, Halloween Horror Nights, Orlando, Florida

The Insane Amount of Detail Put Into The Movie/TV-Themed Haunted Houses

The amount of work that goes into Halloween Horror Nights each year is impressive, with a fourteen-month planning schedule for each event. Setting up ten different houses is tough enough by itself, but for the six houses that are based on popular franchises, that workload is increased due to the painstaking detail that goes into each one to make sure they appear accurate to even the most avid movie fan. From the costumes and puppetry to the actual temperature in the room, these houses go all out.

The Stranger Things haunted house includes sections where visitors are taken into the world of the Upside Down, with life-sized demogorgons, “spores” raining down from above, and even Hopper’s cabin, half-destroyed with a bloodthirsty Mindflayer coming through the roof. House of 1000 Corpses starts in Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters & Madmen, journeys into the Firefly Family home (with the entire family running around like maniacs) and even ventures underground to put visitors face-to-face with Dr. Satan himself. Both Us and Ghostbusters include almost every iconic scene superfans could ask for and just when you think you’ve made it out, each end with a final scare that you just can’t get at the theater. The final two movie-inspired houses, Universal Monsters, and Killer Klowns from Outer Space play hard on the nostalgia factor and are sure to delight and terrify classic horror fans.

Yeti: Terror of the Yukon Haunted House, Halloween Horror Nights, Orlando, Florida

The Unique Stories of the Original Haunted Houses

In addition to the six franchise-themed haunted houses, the park also includes four original-concept houses, all with very different yet unsettling storylines. Some are brand new concepts, while others are new spins on classic favorites. All of them are horrifying mashups of classic horror concepts.

First, there’s Nightingales: Blood Pit, an updated story from previous years that combines hints of Gladiator and the monsters from The Village, if not for that big twist. There’s Yeti: Terror of the Yukon, which blasts cold air into the house for an added bone-chilling effect. Next up is Graveyard Games, a modern-day tale of youthful mischief and disturbed spirits. In this scenario, the ghosts are after teens who have vandalized their New Orleans resting place- and the audience is caught right in the middle. The last of these original houses is Depths of Fear, a journey through a deep-sea mining facility under attack by parasitic “Mouthbrooders”. If the rumored Aquaman spinoff The Trench ends up being half as scary as this haunted house, audiences are in store for a wild ride.

Anarch-cade Scare Zone, Halloween Horror Nights, Orlando, Florida

The Scare Zones Throughout The Park

Many of the houses are spread out throughout the park, but luckily the terror isn’t contained solely to the haunted houses. While visitors are walking from house to house, or through the park in general, Universal has five distinct “Scarezones” set up to keep your adrenaline up. Each zone also has its own unique theme, some bloodier than others.

There are two recognizable franchises, Zombieland: Double Tap and Rob Zombie Hellbilly Deluxe, each with their own unmistakable imagery. The three original Scarezones include Anarch-cade, a Purge-esque style area with plenty of neon outfits and chainsaws, Vikings Undead, which fans of the Vikings show are sure to enjoy, and Vanity Ball, an area with formalwear and unsettling disfigurement. The “scareactors” also like to target people strolling through these zones while using their phones, which made live-tweeting the tour a true nightmare, rightfully so.

Universal Monsters Haunted House, Halloween Horror Nights, Orlando, Florida

The Impressive Practical Effects

Each house blends a unique mix of synchronized audio, light, puppetry, and actors to bring these well-rehearsed and choreographed nightmares to life. But unlike in film or television, these houses can’t up the scares in post-production and only have one chance to get it right for each participant, and they boy oh boy, do they deliver.

Many of the houses use recorded audio straight from your favorite horror movie scenes coupled with scareactors playing famous roles for a very immersive experience. The Ghostbusters house includes multiple Slimers, hologram ghosts, library books that move as if controlled by unseen spirits, and all the iconic scenes superfans could hope for. Stranger Things has life-sized Demogorgons popping out around every turn and multiple Mindflayers that put you right in the thick of the madness in Hawkins, Indiana. It’s one thing to see practical effects on the big screen, but it breaks down a huge barrier to have them jump out at you dozens of times.

Halloween Marathon of Mayhem, Halloween Horror Nights, Orlando, Florida

The Live Shows

For those who are interested but would still like to remain slightly removed from the action, Halloween Horror Nights also puts on two live shows that are vastly different but equally impressive. These shows aren’t solely focusing on the scare factor, they are using technology and choreography to elevate these shows to a whole new level and leave attendees wanting more.

Academy of Villains: Altered States, a new iteration from the popular dance company, projects a dark, artistic video as a backdrop on a stage full of live performers, with an awesome heavy metal soundtrack to go along with it. This show presents some of the best choreography of the whole event, with performers telling a story while performing unbelievable feats of human strength, precision, and endurance. Not one to be topped on impressive choreography, Halloween Marathon of Mayhem is a laser light show that takes place on/through the fountains of the Universal Lagoon by projecting scenes from horror properties accompanied by an epic soundtrack.

For those still on the fence, I urge you to face your fears. Halloween Horror Nights is now open select nights between September 6th and November 2nd. In the meantime, head on over to our premiere guide to read up on what’s still in store (horror or otherwise) for 2019.

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Sylvester Stallone Says Rambo’s Love, Loneliness, And Vietnam Pain Fuel Last Blood

When movie fans think of the name Rambo, what comes to mind is non-stop action. However, the character of John Rambo was born in a much more complex story. 1982’s First Blood is a movie about a Vietnam vet dealing with the ramifications of returning home and trying to readjust to society following an unpopular war and the new film is going to revisit that in a big way.

After a series of sequels, where the lead character was largely fueled by rage, we’re now gearing up for, what the title tells us is the final adventure for John Rambo. According to Sylvester Stallone, this new movie will see Rambo driven by something quite different. Here, all Rambo is trying to do is avoid being alone.

The last Rambo movie from over 10 years ago saw the character returning to his family’s ranch in Arizona at the end. The trailers for Rambo: Last Blood have shown that he is not alone there, but when one of the women that Rambo is close to is kidnapped by a drug cartel, Rambo is willing to do whatever it takes to help her.

This is what Sylvester Stallone is talking about when he says Rambo is willing to sacrifice himself for somebody he loves. Check out his comments below.

The Rambo movies, at their core, are about a man coming to terms with his role in the Vietnam War. While Sylvester Stallone feels no soldier should feel guilty for what happened there, he admits that Rambo does, and so the man has been dealing with a lot of pain throughout his life as a result.

John Rambo’s pain is a big part of First Blood, the original Rambo movie. The sequels are much more about the military machine continuing to use Rambo for its own purposes, but in Last Blood, we’ll have a fight that John Rambo really chooses to fight.

Sylvester Stallone says that in Last Blood John Rambo has largely found peace, though he still has moments where the war comes back to haunt him. Considering the fact that Stallone himself teases the idea here that Rambo is willing to sacrifice himself, one has to wonder just how John Rambo will ultimately find final peace when Rambo: Last Blood is over.

Why IT Should Have Been A Trilogy, And How That Would’ve Worked

IT Chapter Two The Losers Club standing on the street, post battle

Warning: SPOILERS for IT Chapter Two are in play. If you’re looking to avoid spoilers for the film, head out of this story and come back once you are current with the story.

As we continue to see IT Chapter Two make its play for box office glory, a second weekend on top of the food chain has us still reflecting on how the entire story plays as a whole. Director Andy Muschietti’s two film-adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel, with writer Gary Dauberman along for the ride on both halves, definitely feels fuller than the 1990 miniseries ever did.

However, much like the original Tommy Lee Wallace-helmed TV version, there was still a bit of a battle over what was included, and what would be cut, from the story that makes up IT in its totality. Ultimately, with two films and roughly 5-6 hours of time to tell the story of an over 1000-page doorstop, sacrifices must be made.

But what if they didn’t have to be? What if IT was a trilogy of films and allowed to tell the full story of the novel for the first time? It would have been the better way to go, to be honest, and it could have worked rather well. While we can’t turn back time to change what’s happened in terms of how these films were made, allow us to explain just why IT would have worked better with a third chapter to round things off.

IT Pennywise grinning in the Neibolt Street house

Why IT Should Have Been A Trilogy

Stretching back to when we discussed the problems that IT Chapter Two had with telling its story, the idea of IT being a trilogy has simmered in our minds since mentioning the possibility. And the reasoning to have three movies telling the IT story is based in the same roots the idea to make IT into a theatrical film in the first place: it gives Stephen King’s book more room to breathe.

Jumping from a television miniseries to a major motion picture event was a move designed to allow IT not only to be more intense, but to also work more of the tale into the entire package that would be delivered to audiences. Which makes it all the more surprising that those in charge wouldn’t have thrown off the shackles of the duology structure and gone for the brass ring.

IT works perfectly as a trilogy because not only would there have been more room for The Losers’ Club to be fleshed out to perfection, but the pacing issues of IT Chapter Two could have been avoided. With three films, there’s a perfect thematic and symbolic structure that could have been followed in this tale of childhood trauma. It’s a trilogy that would play out in the following hypothetical manner.

IT The young Losers' Club watches Bill's slideshow

IT Chapter One

Probably the best news about a trilogy structure is that it vindicates the decision made to keep IT solely focused on the Losers Club’s younger years. With that film already keeping the action set in 1988-1989, the foundation for Stephen King’s coming-of-age story starts with its best feet forward.

We got to know the Losers’ personalities rather effectively, saw them come together, and eventually even saw them all take on Pennywise the first time, swearing to get back together if IT ever came back. Everything that was great about IT would have carried over into IT Chapter One, with just some mild changes.

The greatest change to IT Chapter One would be to include all of the “new” flashbacks that IT Chapter Two debuted in its story structure. Richie’s homosexuality, Henry Bowers’ arrest and the underground lair all should have been in play from the beginning, if only because the structure of IT Chapter Two needed them to already exist in order to land their thematic punches.

IT Chapter Two The Losers toast at the Chinese restaurant

IT Chapter Two

This is where the real surgery starts, as IT Chapter Two would still play as a mix of flashbacks and present day action, but in a very different manner. Instead of cramming the return of the now fully grown Losers’ Club in with their final battle against Pennywise, this middle film would be all about crossing that bridge from childhood into adulthood.

As such, the new and improved IT Chapter Two could have lingered a little longer on everyone’s life situations as adults, with more of their lives after Derry coming into focus. James McAvoy’s Bill Denbrough would have benefited from this approach massively, as his wife Audra (Jess Weixler) could be restored to the level of importance she played in the Stephen King variant of the novel.

In turn, that would have also opened the door for Tom Rogan (Will Beinbrink) to also fulfill his plotline from the novel. This would have seen the cliffhanger of IT Chapter Two’s new and improve formula involving Tom’s abduction of Audra in order to lure The Losers’ Club into Pennywise’s den.

With the entire film playing on the theme of overcoming childhood fears, and coming to terms with those earlier years, flashbacks would still play a part in reminding the prodigal children of Derry what had happened and why they needed to come back home. IT’s first two chapters would then wrap up, leading to one final chapter of action to end the story in style.

IT Chapter Two The full Losers' Club lineup, standing in some smoke

IT The Final Chapter

With Stephen King’s characters and plots now firmly established and perfectly teed up, audiences would be ready to see the entire novel come together with IT The Final Chapter. This third film would have mostly focused on taking down Pennywise through the Ritual of Chüd, with some extra time built in for audiences to see more fleshed-out nightmare sequences.

Of course, the last film wouldn’t have to be as long as the first two, as IT The Final Chapter is supposed to be the action packed finale that delivers a pleasing, but adrenaline-fueled conclusion. The rest of the film would be used to tie up the loose ends of The Losers’ Club, allowing them to say their goodbyes and move into their new lives as well-adjusted adults.

The cherry on top would be seeing each member moving forward with their lives, now being able to remember what happened in Derry through the 27 years their story spanned across. That knowledge would spur them all on to move in different, exciting directions, much as we saw with Mike leaving Derry for the first time ever. The big difference being that now we get to see how everyone moves on, and in a slightly more extended context.

IT Chapter Two Pennywise hovers over a flame

How Can The Supercut Fix IT’s Story

While a trilogy is off the table, there’s an option that might make all of the difference when it comes to re-editing IT: the fabled supercut that looks like it’s going to happen after all. As director Andy Muschietti has talked about an entire supercut putting both halves of the story together, the material he’s looking to include in this massive undertaking could serve a similar purpose.

Should the supercut operate as one large, six-hour film, IT can rearrange the flashbacks from IT Chapter Two to become scenes in the IT portion of the film. Then, moving into the second act of the film, those moments can remain as flashbacks in adulthood, if only slightly abbreviated as that knowledge will already be a part of the earlier portion of the film.

Completing the story of the IT supercut would be the final section of the film, where the battle would be won and everything wraps up in an emotionally satisfying way. With some restructuring of the overall story, as well as some of that new material Muschietti is looking to film for the finished product, IT and IT Chapter Two might make up for not having a third entry by following the structure of a trilogy in their combined form.

It’s going to probably be a while before the two halves of IT and IT Chapter Two are made into one cohesive whole. Even in that event, there’s a chance that this adaptation of the story Stephen King [committed to paper in 1986](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_(novel) might still feel a little lacking. Should that be the case, maybe it might be a good idea to film even more additional material, and re-edit the entire series into a three-film opus after all.

IT Chapter Two is in theaters now, with IT available on Digital HD, 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD formats.

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Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow Didn’t Think Battle At Big Rock Would Be Kept Secret

We have a long way to go until Jurassic World 3 hits theaters, but those looking for some dinosaur action got their fix today with the surprising release of the Battle at Big Rock short film from Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow. The short, which takes place after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, premiered on television last night before dropping online, all with little advance warning that it was coming. Colin Trevorrow didn’t think the short would actually be kept secret, as he explained:

In this day and age, we are used to hearing about productions through unofficial channels well before we lay eyes on them. It’s practically expected that something will leak, which is why you see many of the biggest productions take such extreme measures to preserve secrecy. But news of Battle at Big Rock only broke within the last week or so and now it is online for everyone to see.

That had to be a pleasant surprise because as Colin Trevorrow told Collider, he never thought Battle at Big Rock would get as far as it did without someone catching wind of it or word getting out about its existence. But things worked out and the secrecy for the short film held. The director attributes this at least in part, to the Irish.

They shot Battle at Big Rock in Ireland last winter and used a grove of Redwoods to stand in for Big Rock National Park, which is supposed to be about 20 miles from the Lockwood Estate in Northern California, where Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ended.

If it was shot in LA things might not have been so clandestine, but apparently the people involved in the production kept tight-lipped about the whole thing. Parts of Game of Thrones were shot in Northern Ireland, so the Irish must have gotten pretty good at keeping production secrets.

Obviously a big part of what may have helped Battle at Big Rock remain a secret is that nobody knew it was coming, so people weren’t out there looking for news about it. The whole thing was a surprise. Talking about where the idea for the short came from and how it came about, Colin Trevorrow said:

Universal gave Colin Trevorrow an opportunity and he jumped on it, diving headfirst into the idea. He teamed with writer Emily Carmichael, who has plenty of experience writing shorts. She also wrote Pacific Rim Uprising and as Colin Trevorrow said, is co-writing Jurassic World 3 with him.

The idea was to give us a taste of what the new ‘Jurassic World’ was like after Fallen Kingdom. When the dinosaurs were set free at the end of that film, there was no going back from it. That created a whole new dynamic that is still evolving and for the dinosaurs, they are in an unfamiliar environment and an unfamiliar time and have to learn to adapt. Because they are no longer confined to a theme park and are out in the wild like any other animal, they are naturally going to eventually run into humans.

Having these dinosaurs run into people that are camping makes perfect sense. The dinosaurs would probably avoid areas like the city and stick to natural environments. For the people, they went camping to get away from the hustle and bustle and get in touch with nature. They just never expected to be up close and personal with nature of the Jurassic variety.

Battle at Big Rock presumably gives us a taste of what we can expect with dinosaurs run amok in Jurassic World 3. That trilogy-capper hits theaters on June 11, 2021. For movies to tide you over until then, check out our 2019 Release Schedule.

New Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Image Has Rey Looking Like A Total Badass

We’re coming up on a very exciting time in the Star Wars franchise, as this December marks the long-awaited release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. J.J. Abrams’ second blockbuster set in the galaxy far, far away will wrap up the current trilogy, as well as the nine-film Skywalker Saga that began back with A New Hope. Moviegoers are eager to see how the characters’ stories are completed, especially Force Sensitive hero Rey (Daisy Ridley). Luckily, a new photo of Rey in Episode IX was just released.

Rey has already had a fascinating story in the Star Wars franchise, going from a junket on Jakku to the new hope for the galaxy. While her beliefs in the light side of The Force have been steadfast up until The Last Jedi, marketing material for The Rise of Skywalker revealed she may be tempted by The Dark Side, as a vision of Rey with a double sided red lightsaber was shown. But a newly released photo gives a more hopeful image, check it out below.

Rey is looking like a Jedi Knight badass in this new photo, shown having grown quite comfortable with her lightsaber. There’s been a considerable time jump between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, and her abilities have likely grown quite a bit as she continued to fight for The Resistance.

This new image comes to us from the official Star Wars Twitter page, and does a good job at not actually revealing anything about the highly anticipated movie’s contents. We simply see Rey with her signature blue lightsaber, presumably after she fixed it following its The Last Jedi destruction. She’s determined and ready for action, and seemingly doesn’t have the small cape we saw her in The Rise of Skywalker‘s trailer.

Star Wars fans will likely be especially excited to see how Rey is holding her lightsaber in this new Episode IX image. She’s wielding it from the back, in the way Ahsoka Tano did during the Clone Wars animated series. The community has been eagerly waiting for Ahsoka to be adapted into live-action, but this nod is a great way to acknowledge the animated Jedi’s existence in the greater canon.

Rey’s fate is one of the biggest questions set to follow Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker‘s upcoming release. The vision of Dark Rey with her lightsaber basically broke the internet when it was revealed, and even Daisy Ridley was surprised to see the footage debut. Up until this point, Rey signified the future of the Jedi Order, and the hope that would inspire The Resistance following Luke’s death. So turning to the Dark Side would be a major plot twist that no one saw coming.

All will be revealed when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Ghostbusters 2020 Follows The Descendants Of Original Ghostbusters, Dan Aykroyd Confirms

Fans of the Ghostbusters franchise have been excited that a new movie is on the way that is set to continue the original franchise. However, it has yet to be officially revealed exactly how the new movie plans to do that. The details of how the new movie will tie into the original pair has not been confirmed but now producers Dan Aykroyd and Ivan Reitman have added fuel to the idea that the film is set to follow the family of Egon Spengler.

The concept was born a couple of months ago, when a photo surfaced from the production of the new Ghostbusters movie, which showed the family that the film will focus on. Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, and McKenna Grace were together, and Grace especially, with her wire rim glasses, looked like a child version of Harold Ramis’ character from the first two Ghostbusters films.

Recently, while checking out the new Ghostbusters attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights (via Fox News), Dan Aykroyd confirmed part of this theory, as the new movie will absolutely deal with descendants of the original Ghostbusters. According to Aykroyd…

While Dan Aykroyd doesn’t go so far as to confirm that the DNA in question belongs to Harold RamisGhostbusters character, this statement., combined with the other evidence we have, would seem to strongly point things in that direction.

Of course, there was no indication that Egon Spengler, or any of the Ghostbusters had kids, but it’s been 30 years since Ghostbusters 2, so it’s certainly possible they all settled down after the last movie. It’s possible the new movie could introduce us to the children, or even the grandchildren, of several of the original characters. While the movie might focus on the Spengler family, perhaps we could meet new generations of Stantz, Venkman, or Zedmore as well.

If not, it’s fitting that Egon’s family will be our POV characters. Since he’s the one member of the original Ghostbusters who can’t appear in the new movie himself, this will be a logical way to see his character represented.

The director of the first two Ghostbusters movies, and father of Jason Reitman, who is directing the new film, also went far enough to confirm the familial connection, but wouldn’t go further than that.

The new Ghostbusters film is set for release in 2020.

Taika Waititi Clarifies Chris Hemsworth’s Thor: Love And Thunder Role

Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ended masterfully, with Avengers: Endgame encapsulating every installment in the massive franchise, and Spider-Man: Far From Home revealing how Earth recovered from Thanos’ assault on the galaxy. Fans are eager to see Phase Four kick up, especially after the myriad exciting announcements that came with San Diego Comic-Con and D23 Expo. One of these includes Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder, which will mark the first time a Marvel hero got a fourth solo movie.

Love and Thunder has quickly become one of the most highly anticipated installments coming in Phase Four, after Thor: Ragnarok and Taika Waititi breathed new life into the franchise. The upcoming sequel will also bring Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster back into the franchise, and will see her become Mighty Thor. But does that mean Chris Hemsworth’s character will be stripped of his abilities as the God of Thunder? Waititi recently offered a clarification on this matter, saying:

Well, that’s one way to clear up rumors. Because despite Jane’s transformation as the Mighty Thor, the OG Avenger will still be the primary protagonist, and maintain his powers in the upcoming fourth movie. Just how that’ll balance with Mighty Thor remains to be seen.

Taika Waititi’s comments to MTV News helps clear up one of the endless questions currently surrounding Thor: Love and Thunder. Since the movie was only recently announced, Marvel Studios and Taika Waititi have been keeping the upcoming movie’s contents under wraps. And since the movie isn’t expected to hit theaters until 2021, we should expect the secrets to be kept for the near future.

Narratively, it seems like Taika Waititi could go anywhere with Thor: Love and Thunder. The title character is almost unrecognizable from the hero we met in Thor, having lost his home and everything that previously defined the God of Thunder. Asgard itself was destroyed, with Thor giving the role of King Of New Asgard to Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie. All of Thor’s family also perished throughout the first three MCU phases, so he’s in the position to go anywhere in the cosmos in his fourth movie.

When we last saw Thor in Avengers: Endgame, he was struggling with a serious case of depression, and drowning his guilt and existential dread with alcohol. He was able to speak with Frigga during the Time Heist, and got a perspective that inspired him to take to the cosmos and find who he truly was.

The mystery is how exactly this will happen. Thor was last seen with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Marvel fans are eager to see them crossover in either Guardians 3 or Thor: Love and Thunder. Jane will also obviously be brought back into the narrative, so it’s unclear how much of the story will be Earth based versus space. Also, will he keep his Bro Thor appearance from Endgame?

All will be revealed when Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters November 5th. 2021. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

The Terrifying Way Naomie Harris Prepared For Black And Blue

naomie harris black and blue bloody pointing gun

Actors who take on roles that have little to do with what they’ve experienced in their own lives usually go to great lengths to research those parts, and make sure they’re bringing as much authenticity to the part as possible. This is especially true for many of them when they sign on to portray first responders, which is why, when Naomie Harris was looking to prepare for her part as a rookie cop in Black and Blue, she did what many actors do and shadowed some officers as they did their jobs. But, it turned out to be somewhat of a terrifying experience.

Naomie Harris (along with some of her fellow cast members and the director) sat down with CinemaBlend and other outlets during a break in filming Black and Blue, and when asked how she prepared for her role, revealed that some aspects didn’t go quite as smoothly as one would hope.

I was able to draw on a lot of stuff I’d done before. [But] I did lots of undercover work, so I was out with police doing raids. I was actually part of a real drug sting; it was really exciting… Terrifying, we got the wrong guy.

Well, Naomie Harris’ time getting ready to play New Orleans rookie cop Alicia West quickly went from sounding easy, to a bit intense to downright scary fairly quickly, didn’t it? She’s had roles in several films that already required work in action scenes and possibly even weapons training like 28 Day Later, the most recent Bond films and Rampage, but she wanted to really get into the in-depth day to day work of being an officer of the law, so she went along on some police raids.

I can easily admit that just typing the phrase “police raids” made me nervous enough, so, many props to Naomie Harris for toughing it out in what must have been some pretty difficult situations even in the best circumstances. Unfortunately, things got way more complicated in one such raid when the cops she was with picked up the wrong man.

I’m guessing that being in a location that gets raided by the police is never fun (not for the cops or the perpetrators), but at least the officers have a firm handle on who they’re looking for and why, and also have a basic understanding of what might go wrong when they’re about to apprehend a suspect. But, can you imagine the kind of chaos that would be likely to erupt when you burst into a home or business and actually arrest the wrong person?

I, for one, am getting chills. And not the good kind.

While Naomie Harris was able to relay the experience without breaking out in a cold sweat, she did label it “terrifying,” so we all know where she stands on how it felt to be a part of this event in the moment. She didn’t spell out how this particular drug sting went down, how they figured out they had the wrong man or what happened after, but it’s at least good that this did not turn into something way more unfortunate.

Harris’ role in Black and Blue sees her Alicia go on the run after witnessing a group of dirty cops murder a drug dealer. The crime was caught on her body cam, so Alicia is trying to get the footage uploaded so she can expose the cops. But, she has all the dirty cops of New Orleans after her, along with every criminal, because they’ve told everyone that she actually did the deed. She joins forces with childhood friend Mouse (Tyrese Gibson) to try to survive long enough to make sure the actions of the bad cops come to light.

You can watch the full trailer right here, and have a look at the awesome poster for Black and Blue below:

In case you were wondering, it wasn’t all bullet proof vests and riot helmets (or whatever other gear Naomie Harris had to wear to protect herself during raids and stings) for the Oscar nominee as she prepared to play Alicia. She did get a chance to do my favorite kind of research: the kind where you sit on the couch in your pajamas with a hot cup of coffee and watch TV…

So, I got a lot of research from that, and then it was a lot of watching real-life cop programs. I found this amazing program on YouTube and it was mainly women cops, and they were just following them around, showing their day, and that was fascinating.

Yeah, that’s much more my speed. Of course, it’s a very good thing that Harris stepped out and took the opportunity to participate in some very real and scary police proceedings. This means that Black and Blue will be even more informed by what actual officers go through on a daily basis, and Harris has some very real memories of just how terrifying the work can be.

Black and Blue will hit theaters on October 25, so we can all see how Naomie Harris employs her hard won knowledge in a little over a month. To see everything else that’s coming to the big screen through the end of the year, be sure to check out our new movie release schedule.

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Why Tyrese Was Ready For A Movie Like Black And Blue After Doing So Many Franchise Films

tyrese gibson black and blue

Tyrese Gibson is best known for his time on screen in big actions movies; mostly franchises like the Transformers films and much of the long-running Fast & Furious series. But, the actor has a new film, Black and Blue, starring Oscar nominee Naomie Harris (Moonlight), coming out next month that will show a different side of the performer that many of us haven’t seen in theaters for a while. While Black and Blue is an action movie, the focus is on the characters who drive the story forward, more than how many things get blown up.

When the cast and director of Black and Blue sat down with CinemaBlend and other outlets during a break in filming, Gibson spoke about why he was ready to step away from the big budget action franchises again, and why Black and Blue was the perfect vehicle (no pun intended) for a change. And, it turns out that hearing from director Deon Taylor that Naomie Harris was attached to star helped Gibson make his decision.

Literally on our first conversation he mentioned Naomie Harris, who was the only one attached at the time. And I was saying to Deon, and he knows this from real conversations, when you’re a part of big franchises, it’s a gift [but] sometimes it can work against you. Because, these dramatic, dark, uncomfortable roles that really require you to go there and peel back the layers – nothing blowing up, no cars turning over, no big explosions and CG – you get overlooked sometimes as an actor. They’ll say, ‘Oh, he’s that guy from that thing.’ And, so, the seriousness of a Naomie got me in the game off top, because I was ready to make this type of statement.

Tyrese Gibson is certainly correct about Black and Blue being “dramatic, dark” and “uncomfortable.” The movie focuses on Harris’ rookie New Orleans cop, Alicia West, who’s out on the job when she sees some of her fellow police offers murder a drug dealer. While she manages to get away from them, they realize that not only did she see the entire incident, but everything was captured on her body cam.

So, this group of crooked cops is after Alicia, but they also decide to tell every criminal in the city that she’s the one who killed the dealer and have a kingpin (played by Luke Cage‘s Mike Colter) put a price on her head. While she’s being pursued by dirty cops and all the enterprising criminals in New Orleans, she relies on her reluctant old friend Milo “Mouse” Jackson (Gibson) to help her evade capture so she can upload the body cam footage and expose the crime.

Black and Blue is a “run all night” kind of movie, so while there are certainly impressive stunts, fights and action sequences, as he said on set, the point of those scenes isn’t having the biggest explosion or the most realistic CGI. Every moment is about exploring police corruption and the responsibility we all have to do the right thing, sometimes no matter the cost to ourselves. And, as Gibson was ready to have a role really make a statement again, knowing that someone of Naomie Harris’ caliber involved sealed the deal for him.

Obviously, the story of Black and Blue is pretty deep, and while Gibson was looking for a film role where he wouldn’t get lost in all the noise of busy action scenes so his talents would be appreciated, he also said that the way Black and Blue plays out also attracted him:

It’s layered, it’s real, it’s dark. It’s got the grit of a Training Day. It’s not cheesy; it ain’t no corny little one-liners. It doesn’t warrant a chuckle. It keeps you vulnerable and it stays intense the entire time. There were certain names being thrown around on a casting level, and I was just grateful it didn’t work out for certain people because I wanted it to stay as intense as it is, and that’s real. It’s a space that I’ve been praying to get back into.

There is certainly a part of me that’s dying to know who Tyrese Gibson didn’t want in Black and Blue, but since he can sometimes get into intense public conversations with actors that he is co-starring with, it’s best that he kept mum on those details.

Black and Blue, which also stars Frank Grillo (The Purge: Election Year), Beau Knapp (Destroyer), Nafessa Williams (Black Lightning) and Reid Scott (Why Women Kill), is due in theaters October 25. For more on what you can see on the big screen in 2019, check out our new movie release guide.

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Joaquin Phoenix’s Time Playing Joker Wasn’t As Intense As You Might Think

As you would expect from a movie that features a clown slowly going violently insane, Todd Phillips’ Joker is an intense experience. It’s the kind of film that requires you to take a moment to yourself to recover as the end credits play, as Joaquin Phoenix delivers a powerful and disturbing performance as the film’s lead character, Arthur Fleck. Watching it, you can’t help but think of all the dark places that the lead actor must have gone to in order to properly evoke such a performance… but it may surprise you to learn that the reality of the situation doesn’t match up with that thinking at all. In fact, Phoenix’s time playing Joker wasn’t nearly as intense as you might think.

Last month I had the pleasure of attending a pre-Venice Film Festival premiere screening of Joker in Los Angeles with both Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix in attendance, and it was at this event that the actor discussed his time getting into the skin of the project’s titular role. Phoenix was asked about how he went about getting into a proper mindset to find the right energy for the part, but rather than revealing some kind of intense preparation process he said that none of it was really an emotionally taxing experience – but instead actually a pretty damn fun one. He explained,

Evidently, though, there are no Joaquin Phoenix stories that add to this particular legacy. The Academy Award-nominated actor certainly has an appreciation for those kinds of behind-the-scenes stories and performers that go the extra mile, but that wasn’t really something that he felt was required to fuel his performance in Joker. Instead, he was able to just really enjoy himself on set, apparently laughing quite a lot when the cameras weren’t rolling, and the end result is that his name is already swirling around in the award season conversation.

It’s a scenario that reminds one of a famous story from the making of John Schlesinger’s The Marathon Man, which has a scene for which Dustin Hoffman prepared by not sleeping for three days. When Hoffman’s legendary co-star Laurence Olivier learned of this, his reported response was simple: “My dear boy, why don’t you just try acting?”

Based on this story alone, one could imagine Joaquin Phoenix and Laurence Olivier getting along quite well.

For now, Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker performance is a marvel that only a select number of people have seen following showings as the Venice and Toronto film festivals… but it won’t be long until audiences worldwide get to witness it for themselves. One of the most anticipated releases of the fall, the movie is set to hit theaters in just a few weeks on October 4th. We’ll have plenty more coverage of the film coming your way between now and then, so be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend.