Reeling in the locals

By Russell Baillie

It might feel like it's been a while since there was a local feature on at the cinema. There was Black Sheep back in March of course, and five months before that Out of the Blue.

Even the upcoming Air New Zealand Screen Awards thought it best to skip any awards for local features at its early August ceremony for lack of potential nominees in the past year qualifying period.

But it's gone from drought to flood - five New Zealand features are lined up for general release in the next three months. Three of them are horrors of sorts, mostly with imported leads.

But the clump of films also means that some local faces are in more than one of them - both Robbie Magasiva and Craig Hall turn up in three out of the five.

Here's how the winter local film feast lines up ...

1. Eagle Vs Shark

Opens: August 16 (after its International Film Festival screenings)
What: Director Taika Waititi follows his Oscar-nominated short Two Cars, One Night and Tama Tu with his first feature, a deadpan, dysfunctional romantic comedy about the equally socially-challenged Jarrod (Jemaine Clement) and Lily (Loren Horsley). It's already on release in the United States where its had fair to good reviews.

But it's likely to find an even warmer reception at home.
Website: www.eaglevsshark.net


2. Perfect Creature

Opens: August 23 (after screening at the Wellington and Dunedin International Film Festivals)
What: The long-awaited - it was filmed in 2005 - sci-fi vampire movie finally sees the light of day. The second film from director Glenn Standring after the Karl Urban-starring The Irrefutable Truth About Demons, it's set in an alternative 1960s New Zealand known as Nuovo Zelandia (some gothic-looking parts of Dunedin and Auckland were used). The land is home to a genetically modified highly evolved band of vampires called "The Brotherhood" who live in relative harmony with humankind. British actors Dougray Scott (now in Desperate Housewives) and Saffron Burrows star as vampire and mortal policewoman respectively.
Website: www.perfect-creature.com


3. The Tattooist

Opens: August 30
What: The first feature outing by Peter Burger and co-written by Black Sheep's Jonathan King, this New Zealand-Singaporean co-production is a supernatural thriller about an American tattoo artist (Jason Behr) who unwittingly unleashes an evil spirit when he dabbles in the Samoan art of tatau. Among the locals it stars are the aforementioned Magasiva, Mia Blake, Michael Hurst, Nathaniel Lees and worryingly, Matthew Ridge.
Website: www.thetattooistmovie.co.nz


4. The Devil Dared Me To

Opens: October 11
What: From the folks who brought us the televised stuntfest that was Back of the Y - as well as the band Deja Voodoo - comes the big screen, er, stuntfest. It's an action-comedy telling the story of Randy Campbell's quest to follow in his late father's footsteps to become our greatest daredevil stuntman. And there can be only one daring deed to do that - jumping across Cook Strait in a rocket car.
Website: www.devildaredmeto.com


5. The Ferryman

Opens: October 18
What: From the director of Sione's Wedding Chris Graham, a high-seas horror starring Kerry Fox and John Rhys-Davies in a movie about a group of young folks on a charter yacht bound for Fiji who run into something unspeakable. Those decks are sure going to need swabbing ...
Website: www.theferryman-movie.com

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