Saw X Was So Gnarly, Its Editor Had the Cops Called on Him @ io9

Image: Lionsgate

Watching the Saw movies isn’t for everyone—across the now 10-movie franchise, audiences have seen people mutilate themselves in order to stay alive or die trying in some pretty grisly fashion. For those who loves these movies or to see people get messed up, that’s part of the appeal. But when you’re the one involved in the production of one of these movies, it can lead to some interesting stories.

Talking to NME, Saw X director Kevin Greutert revealed his First Assistant editor Steve Forn got the cops called on him. Forn was working on sound design for a particularly gory scene featuring the eye vacuum trap seen above, and had the volume up loud enough that his neighbors called the police to see what was up. “We have the doorbell [camera] video of the police walking up,” Greutert explained, “[Forn answering the door] and the police saying, ‘The neighbours [have been] calling and saying someone’s being tortured to death in here.’ And he was like, ‘Actually, I’m just working on a movie…You can come in and see it if you want?’”

Fortunately, the cops took it all in stride and just laughed, according to Greutert, who said that the screams had to have been “pretty realistic” to warrant a call from the police. “They said, ‘We want to but, you know, you’re all right.’ [...] It’s a pretty funny story…Plus Steve is such a mild mannered guy. I can only imagine the look on his face when he realized what was happening!” Sound design is an important part of all movies (especially horror), so if nothing else, props to Greutert and company for doing their job too well.

Saw X is now playing in theaters.

[via Variety]

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Knights of the Old Republic Remake's Status in Question After Trailer Pruning @ io9

Image: BioWare/Lucasfilm Games

BioWare’s 2003 game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is one of the most well-known video games to bear the franchise’s name, and players were delighted to hear it would be coming to the current gaming generation. But much like Star Wars Eclipse, whose existence had to be reconfirmed by developer Quantic Dream last week, the remake for KOTOR is now facing similar scrutiny.

Earlier in the week, fans online realized the initial reveal trailer for KOTOR Remake was marked as private on YouTube. What’s more, previous social media posts from Sony—console-wise, the remake is a PlayStation 5 exclusive—had been deleted, even as users were able to pull up the posts either via the Wayback Machine or their Google Caches. When contacted for comment, Sony told outlets the removals were related to music licensing, calling it “part of normal business. We delist assets with licensed music when the licenses expire.” But as many have pointed out, only the main Star Wars theme is used in the trailer, which is owned by Disney.

Part of the reason for concern on the part of players can be owed to the state of the games industry right now. Aspyr (which has recently done remasters of various old Star Wars games) was initially on deck to created KOTOR Remake for a late 2022 release, but that work was put on hold last year when its pitch didn’t fully land with Lucasfilm and Sony. Months later, it was reported that development had shifted over to Saber Interactive. But both studios are owned by Embracer Group, which has spent much of the summer closing studios and shuttering projects. Whichever studio ends up working on the game, it’s believed the game will release around 2025 at the earliest, and that’s if things go properly according to plan.

All games can take years before they actually release under the best of circumstances. But the culling over at Embracer, and Star Wars’ general history with revealing and then canceling games hangs over the KOTOR remake in a different way.

[via IGN]

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The Marvels May Be the MCU's Shortest Film Ever @ io9

Image: Marvel Studios

At a time when folks are tying a movie’s runtime as part of their interest in seeing it in the theater, blockbuster tentpoles can sometimes run fairly long. At two hours or more, superhero flicks can run long in the the tooth. So if such a thing matters to you, you’ll be pleased to hear that the upcoming The Marvels actually won’t run that long.

A recent listing from AMC Theaters (which has since been removed) claimed the movie will run at an hour and 45 minutes, or 105 minutes. If true, that would make the movie the shortest in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, a distinction was originally held by The Incredible Hulk and Thor: The Dark World at 112 minutes. Other MCU flicks that notably ran under the two-hour mark include last year’s Thor: Love & Thunder (119 minutes), the first two Ant-Man movies (117 and 118 minutes respectively), and the original Doctor Strange (115 minutes). And the longest movie in the entire enterprise remains Avengers: Endgame at (181 minutes).

Runtime isn’t indicative of any movie’s quality, but there is something to be said for a superhero movie that gets in, gives the goods, and gets out. Given the vibes of the trailers released, it’s also more than appropriate for the movie to be so light and breezy. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that moviegoers have had a good amount of time to catch up on the individual adventures of Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) before the movie’s release. Hopefully the movie makes the most of its runtime and doesn’t feel like it’s missing a chunk of film.

The Marvels comes to theaters on November 10.

[via IGN]

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Hazbin Hotel Checks In to Prime Video in January @ io9

Image: Prime Video

In 2019, animator and illustrator Vivienne Medrano (aka VivziePop) released the pilot for her upcoming animated series Hazbin Hotel. Animation fans took the show fairly well and at time of writing, it’s racked up 90 million views on YouTube. The following year, A24 opted to pick up the pilot for a full-blown show, and audiences will soon see the full results of that in the next couple of months.

Earlier in the week, Medrano posted a short teaser confirming Hazbin Hotel was hitting Prime Video in January 2024—an air date that’s been previously inhabited by The Legend of Vox Machina for the last two years. Originally, the series would’ve been out around this past summer, but the Hollywood strikes put a wrench in those plans. Additionally, A24 and Prime have already given Hazbin the green light for a second season. Further details, such as the cast or episode count, have currently not been revealed.

Hazbin Hotel – Announcement | Prime Video

Hazbin Hotel stars Charlie Morningstar (voiced in the pilot by Jill Harris), the princess of Hell who opens a hotel in the aims of rehabilitating demons so they can ascend into Heaven and also deal with the bad place’s overpopulation problem. Assisting her in her efforts are her girlfriend and the hotel manager Vaggie (Monica Franco), adult film star/their first patron Angel Dust (Michael Kovach), and Alastor (Edward Bosco), a Radio Demon who’s helping run the hotel for giggles. The pilot received praise from most viewers for its music and animation quality, though it was dinged for its humor being a little too edgy.

As production on the actual Hazbin show was underway, Medrano and the pilot’s production company Spindlehorse Toons created the spinoff series Helluva Boss, which focuses on assassins in Hell and has a third season in production.

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Super7 Debuts New Sesame Street, Pinocchio and Peanuts Figures @ io9

Image: Super7

Get ready for some SuperSize collectibles from Super7, which are available as of today.

io9 has an exclusive look at the next lineup for SuperSize that continues to expand just in time for the holidays. Super7 co-founder/CEO Brian Flynn shared, “Our SuperSize line is more than just a toy, it is a work of art. Our goal is to offer our fans a figure that looks like it walked straight out of a cartoon and into your collection.”

These action figures are huge—at 17 inches, these vinyl statues are quite a package. We have your first peek at Sesame Street’s Super Grover, Disney’s Pinocchio in the Pleasure Island Donkey variant, and Peanuts Peppermint Patty. Flynn continued, “The most important aspect of our SuperSize figures is that they are evocative of our larger Super7 thought process which focuses on quality, craftsmanship, and most importantly, joy. With figures ranging from Peanuts to Disney to Sesame Street, we want SuperSize to be emotionally relevant to our community in a way that is reflective of the artistry and tactility that we pour into all of our products.”

Take a look at the collection in this gallery!

Super7 SuperSize x Sesame Street Super Grover

Image: Super7

Sesame Street SuperSize Vinyl Super Grover available online for $295.

Super7 SuperSize x Sesame Street Super Grover

Image: Super7

Super7 SuperSize x Sesame Street Super Grover

Image: Super7

Super7 SuperSize x Sesame Street Super Grover

Image: Super7

Super7 SuperSize x Sesame Street Super Grover

Image: Super7

Super7 SuperSize x Disney Pinocchio (Donkey)

Image: Super7

Disney Pinocchio (Donkey) SuperSize Vinyl, available online for $295.

Super7 SuperSize x Disney Pinocchio (Donkey)

Image: Super7

Super7 SuperSize x Peanuts Peppermint Patty

Image: Super7

Peanuts SuperSize Vinyl Peppermint Patty, available online for $295.

Super7 SuperSize x Peanuts Peppermint Patty

Image: Super7

Super7 SuperSize x Peanuts Peppermint Patty

Image: Super7

Super7 SuperSize x Peanuts Peppermint Patty

Image: Super7

Shop for these and more at Super7's official website.

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Orbit Is Curating a Series of Free Craft Talks With Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers @ io9

Image: Orbit Books

Orbit Books, an imprint of Hachette, has developed a free virtual event series for aspiring science-fiction and fantasy writers. Attendees can attend any of the 14 sessions—which are spread out over six weeks in October and early November—for free. The topics range from nitty gritty advice on worldbuilding to a panel on how to write a novel while also still having to deal with the rest of life.

The sessions are, essentially, a mini-convention for writers, aiming to give people who don’t know where to start a complete course on writing. But after looking over the full lineup of seminars, there are a few that stand out. I may have a decent chunk of writing under my belt, but you can be sure to find me in “Love Triangles and Other Shapes” with S.T. Gibson, C.L. Clark, Josiah Bancroft, and Melissa Caruso. And I would be so disappointed if I missed
Creating Otherworldly Cultures” with Ann Leckie, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Essa Hansen, and Davinia Evans, all of whom have written books recently which have completely transported me to entirely new universes.

Other incredible writers across the Orbit Books sphere are also doing short seminars, across a wide range of experiences, from every-award-winner Leckie to Alex Jennings, who made his stunning debut last year with the queer and evocative New Orleans ghost story The Ballad of Perilous Graves. The press release states that these working SFF authors write “across a variety of SFF subgenres, from space opera to horror to epic fantasy to romantic fantasy.”

If you can’t make it to any of the sessions, you should still register on crowdcast and feel free to submit your questions in advance, because “recordings will be available after each session concludes.”

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Universal Monsters and Blumhouse Horror Reign in These Halloween Collections @ io9

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Universal Pictures has a long horror legacy that encompasses the original Universal Monsters films, Chucky, events like Halloween Horror Nights, and new Blumhouse terrors like M3GAN and the upcoming Five Nights at Freddy’s.

With Halloween shopping season in full swing, here are some of the best in lifestyle, fandom fashion, and costumes that Universal has to offer. The collabs are wild, from officially branded Universal Monsters wine from 19 Crimes, to bedding from Cakeworthy, to RSVLTS restocks, to HHN accessories and more at Hot Topic. And of course—a good amount of costumes from Spirit Halloween and Universal’s official Amazon storefront.

Take a look at the gallery for all the Universal Studios horror gear and costumes!

Universal Monsters Frankenstein and Bride x Cakeworthy Mesh Top

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online.

Universal Monsters HHN Mini Backpack x Hot Topic

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

Universal Studios HNN Bride Of Frankenstein Hoodie x Hot Topic

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

19 Crimes x Universal Monsters Dracula Red Blend Wine

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online or at Target.

19 Crimes x Universal Monsters Frankenstein Cabernet Wine

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online or at Target.

Universal Monsters Frankenstein dress costume x Spirit Halloween

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

Universal Monsters Invisible Man costume x Spirit Halloween

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

Universal Monsters Frankenstein costume x Spirit Halloween

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

Universal Monsters Bride of Frankenstein costume x Spirit Halloween

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online or in stores.

Universal Monsters Gillman mask x Spirit Halloween

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

Universal Monsters x Cakeworthy duvet set

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online.

Universal Monsters x Cakeworthy sheet and pillow set

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find sheet and pillow sets online.

Universal Monsters x Cakeworthy Robe

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online.

Universal Monsters x Cakeworthy hoodie and joggers

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find hoodie and joggers online.

Universal Monsters x RSVLTS


Find online.

Universal Monsters x RSVLTS


Find online

Universal Studios HHN Online Shop x Amazon

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Customize your own apparel from Halloween Horror Nights iconography past and present on Amazon.

Bride of Chucky x Loungefly wallet

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online.

Chucky x Loungefly mini-backpack

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online. 

Bride of Chucky x Cakeworthy BoxLunch Exclusive Flannel

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

Chucky x Cakeworthy accessories

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find wallet and purse online.

Chucky x Cakeworthy crewneck

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online.

Chucky x Hot Topic hoodie

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

Chucky x BoxLunch Exclusive Hockey Jersey

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

Chucky x Spirit Halloween pet costume

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

Chucky Overalls Costume Plus Size x Spirit Halloween

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

Chucky Costume Deluxe

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online.

Chucky skirt costume x Spirit Halloween

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

M3GAN costume x Spirit Halloween

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online in kids or adult sizes.

M3GAN mask and hair x Amazon

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online.

HHN Jack the Clown jersey x Hot Topic

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

HHN Jack and Chance hoodie x Hot Topic 

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

HHN Lil’ Boo planter x Universal Studios Parks

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find at Universal Studios Orlando or Universal Studios Hollywood

HHN Stranger Things Eddie Munson Hellfire hoodie

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find at Universal Studios Orlando or Universal Studios Hollywood at Halloween Horror Nights.

Back to the Future franchise costumes x Amazon

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find a fit from the BTTF universe of characters for the whole family online.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial kids costume

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Elliot pet costume

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online.

Five Nights at Freddy’s costume x Spirit Halloween

Image: Spirit Halloween

Available in stores or online.

Fight Nights at Freddy’s FightLine x Funko Games

Image: Funko Games

Find the new game online.

Five Nights at Freddy’s x Funko Games

Image: Funko Games

Check out Funko’s game selection inspired by Five Nights at Freddy’s here.

Jurassic World Dino costume x Party City

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

Halloween Michael Myers Jersey x BoxLunch Exclusive

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find in stores or online.

Halloween Michael Myers pet costume x Amazon

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online

Halloween Michael Myers costume x Amazon

Image: Universal Studios Products and Experiences

Find online.

This roundup, which includes film/tv characters from major studios, was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of actors currently on strike, the films and TV covered here wouldn’t exist.

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Castlevania: Nocturne's Gaming Music Moment Is as Great as Its Predecessor's @ io9

Screenshot: Netflix

Nocturne, the new successor series to Netflix’s excellent animated Castlevania adaptations, plays with its legacy in some truly smart ways—both as a successor show metatextually, and narratively as its heroes navigate being part of a generational supernatural conflict. But one of its greatest moments is a fascinating mirror to one in the original series, and both stem out of a love for the games’ legendary soundtracks.

The sixth episode of Nocturne, “Guilty Men to Be Judged,” sees new protagonist Richter Belmont (Edward Bluemel) literally and figuratively confront his place in the lineage of the Belmont family when he is brought face to face with his long-presumed-dead grandfather, Juste Belmont (Game of Thrones’ Iain Glen). Having just fled from a confrontation that brought him up against the vampire who killed his mother, Olrox (Westworld’s Zahn McClarnon), Richter and Juste have similar parallels in this moment, at their lowest and both alike haunted by the loss of Julia Belmont. Richter watched his mother murdered right in front of him as a child, and Juste witnessed his daughter growing more distant until she left Europe for the Americas, never to see him again.

Screenshot: Netflix

As both men, one young and too brash for his own good and the other old and tired of the legacy he left behind, awkwardly begin to grapple with their connection to both each other and their larger place in the Belmont clan—and, through Castlevania’s Sypha Belnades, their inheritance of magical abilities both now struggle to tap into—they find their moment of burgeoning peace disrupted when a group of vampires catches them unawares. Richter, already wracked with self-doubt having run from Olrox, is quickly subdued, and Juste, well beyond his days as a vampire hunter, is brought in front of him in chains just to amplify that doubt even further. But when one of the vampire hunters mocks that the allies and loved ones—Maria, her mother Tera, his new comrade Annette—Richter left behind when he ran away are going to be slaughtered, something in the young man snaps, and in a scream of anguish and anger, he is wreathed in divine blue flames. The magical side of his lineage that he had long struggled to embrace since his mother’s death has reawakened.

It’s Richter’s big heroic moment of the whole season—it’s where he dons his iconic bandana from the games for the first time, it’s the first time we truly get to see him unleashed with the flair and power of his far-flung descendants Trevor and Sypha for the first time. He becomes an unstoppable force of martial and magical prowess, incinerating his foes in a blue inferno, blocking blows and staking vampires with ice magic summoned around his fists—Belmont and Belnades in one, a vampire hunting powerhouse coursing with magical mastery. It’s arguably the most sumptuously animated moment of action in all of Nocturne, and it is of course the moment where, for the first time in the show, Trevor Morris and Trey Toy’s soundtrack embraces a triumphant leitmotif from Castlevania’s gaming history: “Divine Bloodlines.”

Castlevania Rondo of Blood Music - Bloodlines

First appearing as the soundtrack for the opening stage of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood—first released as Castlevania: Dracula X in the West on the SNES in 1995—and composed by Akira Sōji, “Divine Bloodlines” became Richter’s de facto theme in the Castlevania franchise, and one of the series’ most famous melodies alongside the likes of “Vampire Killer” and “Bloody Tears.” It’s the latter that “Bloodlines” shares the honor of being leveraged in Powerhouse’s animated adaptations with, after it was used at the climax of the show’s second season to track Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard’s assault on Dracula’s castle. But the parallel goes well beyond the fact they’re both two of the most kickass sequences in their respective series that just so happen to use Castlevania video game music. They are both vital moments in their respective heroes’ journeys that see them embrace their connections, to their families and loved ones, to their histories and their places in it, to overcome overwhelming odds and be forged into the legends they were destined to be.

It’s fitting, perhaps, that “Bloodlines” is invoked as Richter finally taps into the magical side of his family history through Sypha’s mighty abilities as a Seeker, paralleling his descendant’s moment of coming into her own during Castlevania season 2's “Bloody Tears” sequence, the first time we really saw just how masterful she could be with her spellslinging. It’s a connection on multiple levels—not just to Sypha, but to Juste, who both in Nocturne and in the games was noted as a particularly magical savant among Belmonts, inspired by the Belnades bloodline—to that generational legacy Nocturne makes key to its characters. But it’s also a parallel to the moments in their journeys that Richter, and Trevor and Sypha before him, found themselves on at the time this musical lineage was called upon.

Screenshot: Netflix

Up to this point in Nocturne, Richter’s understanding of the Belmonts’ history was treated with the brash dismissal of a young, headstrong man: he knew he could fight vampires, he knew he was good at it, and that’s all that mattered. Largely unaware of the extent of the supernatural threat his family had fought for hundreds of years, Richter was content to isolate himself and his feelings, compartmentalize the traumatic death of his mother, and largely remain uncaring about his status as the supposed last descendant of the Belmont Clan. Similarly, Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard had all spent much of Castlevania’s second season wracked with their own doubts and isolation in regards to their legacies—Trevor’s with the disgraced Belmonts, Sypha having left her fellow Seekers behind, and Alucard with having to work with the inheritor of a family that exterminated his kind to slay his grief-stricken father.

It’s only truly in these moments of cathartic climax—both scored by a connection to Castlevania’s wider metatextual history—that Nocturne and Castlevania’s heroes realize that their strength is their bonds with the people closest to them, an embrace of the connection to these grand bloodlines, divine or otherwise, that can make them into the best versions of themselves. Just as “Bloody Tears” orchestrated a moment of Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard coming into their own as a unit, carving their way through Dracula’s hordes after a season of disunity, “Divine Bloodlines” becomes the anthem that sees Richter realise his own power, not just from his ancestors, but in the love he has for the people in his life.

Screenshot: Netflix

As the dust settles and the divine blue flames flicker out in the last moments of “Guilty Men to Be Judged”, the shredding guitars of Toy and Morris’ take on “Divine Bloodlines” give way to a mournful, choral rendition of the motif, and Richter and Juste contemplate what just unfolded. “I don’t know,” Richter tells his grandfather of how he suddenly found himself wielding the magical might of the Belmont and Belnades bloodline so adeptly. “Because it had to? I have to live... there are people I love,” he realizes, re-affirming that the strength he found in recognizing this anew. Just as Trevor, Sypha, Alucard had done so before him, Richter finally understands that sharing his life with others, both through his clan’s legacy and through the people around him, is just as powerful a strength as any martial tool or the braggadocio of youth can be. That they all do so in a paralleled connection to, and love of, Castlevania’s musical history is one of Nocturne’s smartest, and most rewarding, explorations of its place in the series’ own animated bloodline

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Doctor Who's New Theme Will Make a Symphonic Debut Next Month @ io9

Screenshot: BBC

A new era of Doctor Who means a new version of the 60-year-old series’ legendary theme song, and before fans hear it across the trio of anniversary specials set to broadcast in November, they’ll get to experience it in style... if they turn their radio on, that is.

Radio Times reports that returning composer Murray Gold’s new composition of the Doctor Who theme will air as part of a recorded broadcast of the recent Doctor Who @60: A Musical Celebration in the middle of October in the UK, on BBC Radio 2. Recorded at an event in Cardiff this week, the symphonic celebration features contributions from all three main showrunners of the modern era—returning showrunner Russell T. Davies, Steven Moffat, and Chris Chibnall—as well as music from all over the series.

That includes not just its past, but its future. Also expected to be heard during the broadcast for the first time are the two musical themes created for Ncuti Gatwa’s 15th Doctor, and his new companion Ruby Sunday, the latter of which is titled “The Life of Sunday.”

Doctor Who @60: A Musical Celebration will broadcast in the UK on BBC Radio 2 and through the BBC Sounds app Sunday, October 15, with a filmed broadcast planned for the BBC iPlayer at a later date. Hopefully fans outside of the UK will get a chance to get a tiny sonic glimpse of Doctor Who’s future through other means too.

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It's Not the Season You're Expecting With All the Lego Sets You Can Buy in October @ io9

Image: Lego

The feast and famine of Lego releases continues as, after last month’s Star Wars blowout, October is looking like a quieter month in terms of sheer volume of sets to tempt your wallet. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t heavy hitters among those to come!

Slight the list may be, there’s some huge sets coming from Lego in October, including the next Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series release, the Venator-Class cruiser. In our galaxy, there’s also more big hitters—although the seasonal theming is more festive rather than spooky like some might hope, as it’s in the form of Lego’s annual Winter Village release, the snowy Alpine Lodge, and its thematically spiritual partner in the slightly less festive Lego Ideas Viking Village. Brick-built loghouses for all!

Elsewhere there’s a some celebration of the upcoming release of The Marvels, even more holiday theming from Star Wars and Lego’s regular festive line, and more. Click through to see what’s coming this month!

Lego Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Venator-Class Cruiser

Image: Lego

With early access beginning October 1 for Lego VIP/Insider members ahead of a wider release October 4, the 5,300-piece Venator attack cruiser is a massive tribute to the Star Wars prequel era. $650, available here.

Lego Ideas Viking Village

Image: Lego

The latest set from Lego’s fan-designed crowdfund line, the Viking Village brings a Nordic twist to Lego’s usual medieval offerings, with a smithy and forge, a longhouse, and four Viking minifigures to defend it all with. $130, available here.

Lego Marvel Superheroes The Hoopty

Image: Lego

Based on the ship seen in the upcoming The Marvels, this small set gives you a new Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and Ms. Marvel—and a trio of Flerkens, for good measure. $90, available here.

Lego Winter Village Alpine Lodge

Image: Lego

The latest Winter Village set gives your festive minifigures a place to hit the slopes, relax by a fire, or fell a tree, as the season demands. $100, available here.

Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon Holiday Diorama

Image: Lego

The galaxy far, far away is getting in the spirit of the season too with this mini diorama inspired by the Star Wars Lego holiday special—as Chewie, Rey, and Finn celebrate Life Day aboard the Falcon. $30, available here.

Lego Disney Mini Palace of Agrabah

Image: Lego

The Disney line’s series of mini-palace dioramas continues with a trip to Agrabah, and a faithful recreation of Jasmine’s home—complete with mini magic carpet! $40, available here.

Lego Holiday Nutcracker and Gingerbread Ornaments

Image: Lego

To get you ready for the holidays on a smaller scale, Lego is also releasing two new buildable ornaments: a nutcracker, which can be built as either a male or female-presenting figurine, and a collection of customizable gingerbread people to hang on your tree. $13 each, available here and here.

Lego Disney Princess Wish Sets

Image: Lego

To celebrate the upcoming animated movie, itself celebrating 100 years of Disney, Lego has a trio of new sets inspired by Wish coming to its minidoll-focused Disney Princess line. Here’s the list:

Hex & Co. Built a Beloved Gaming Community—Now It's Organizing @ io9

Image: Hex Workers United

On Wednesday, the organized workers of board game bar/cafe Hex & Co. delivered a letter to one of the owners, Dr. Jon Freeman, asserting their right to collectively bargain, and asking him—and co-owner Greg May—to voluntarily recognize the union. They have given Freeman and May until the end of the month to respond.

Hex & Co. has three locations across New York City. It offers board game rentals, limited food service, and after-school programs for kids. This latest organizational effort, made alongside United Workers, is just the latest example of niche industries and small workplaces asserting their worth. If Hex & Co. unionizes, it would be the first board game cafe to do so in NYC. io9 spoke to members of the unit and former employees to get a look at what’s going on at this beloved gaming hotspot.

The entire Hex & Co. workforce is made up of around 80 employees. Over 75% of the workforce signed a petition supporting the formation of the Hex & Co. unit, which will likely comprise of 70 members. The group approached Freeman and May earlier in the year with a signed petition and an ask to bargain collectively without unionizing, but the owners turned down the offer, questioning whether or not people knew what they were signing or were completely aware of the situation. The employees assured the owners that they had explained collective action to the workforce, but Freeman and May still declined. Now, the unit is back, and they’ve got paperwork. “You do things one on one,” said an employee who was involved in the organization process, referring to management. “We do things collectively.” They continued: “They underestimated us, and now they have a lot more to deal with.”

There were three initial asks when the group approached management: a New York City living wage, a clear path to promotion, and more staff to respond to the workload. Multiple sources detailed that “very few” of the folks working at the shops were making living wages. While DMing or working with the kids in the afterschool program, employees make anywhere from $16-18 an hour, and occasionally $19 an hour. While working as baristas, they make $12.50 an hour, plus tips. Employees are frequently asked to perform multiple roles—DM, barback, babysitter, tutor, and janitor, all rolled up into one—in order to keep Hex & Co running smoothly.

“People sometimes think because you work with games that your work must be easy and fun all the time,” said Joe DeSimone, a franchise producer at game publisher Asmodee who frequents Hex & Co. as a customer. “They forget it’s still a job. In the case of the workers at Hex, it’s a service job. That’s brutal work. I’m glad to see them advocating for themselves and demanding better.”

Jace Alejo, one of the managers at Hex & Co. said, “It’s unrealistic [for management] to expect that we’re able to pay off all of our bills and to live in this city on the wages that we’re getting.” One of the employees who asked to remain anonymous said that the tipping point for them was when they worked a full week and were only paid $200. “I had to call my parents and I had to ask for money. I said, ‘I can’t make rent this month because apparently I didn’t serve enough chicken nuggets’.”

Mikayla Wilson has been at Hex & Co. for three years. She is a professional DM who has only been given one promotion after two and a half years; it came with a dollar pay increase and “triple the work.” Wilson said that the $19 an hour she makes still isn’t enough. “If I miss one shift, I’m not getting groceries that week.” Independent, professional DMs can typically charge $20 to $50 per person—typically, that would mean five total—per gaming session, which usually runs for three hours, amounting to anywhere from $20 per hour to $80 per hour.

Image: Hex Workers United

Hex & Co.’s after-school programs are akin to childcare or tutoring, especially since Hex & Co. has a curriculum that counselors are asked to memorize. Wilson also said that they only get “30 minutes of paid prep time,” and if the employee is a DM for the afterschool program, that prep time is frequently eaten up by the need to pick children up from school and bring them to the shop for the afterschool program. “Managers try not to ask the DMs to do pickups, but there are days where we have no other choice.” Wilson said that because of this uncertainty, “most of the DMs I know, including myself, prep outside of paid time. And that’s just because you need to do it in order to do your basic job functions.”

The promotional path is murky, in part because nobody at Hex & Co has set job descriptions. Additionally, because of the business setup of the company, each site is made up of two LLCs—one for the cafe and social space and the other for the afterschool program—and employees often work at multiple locations, and perform multiple jobs, such as barista and afterschool counselor. Which means that at tax season, employees can have anywhere from two to six W-2s to file for working at a single company.

Promotions are given out rarely and accompanied by one-dollar raises. Sasha Brunetti, one of the after-school counselors, has yet to receive a raise after a year at the company, and says that the system is “arbitrary” and is essentially a rote memorization quiz. The quiz for a raise involves being asked to “teach” a board game to the managers and sometimes one of the owners. But, Brunetti said, “if you’re not teaching board games—say, you’re teaching card games—then you have really no way of getting that raise unless you’ve memorized board games that you aren’t actually teaching.” Employees are also asked to explain the brain functions each game encourages, based on Freeman’s observational research and his background in neuroscience.

Much is made of the community that has been fostered at Hex & Co.; it’s apparent in its marketing materials for the newest Kickstarter, it’s on the company’s site, and it was emphasized by every single person I spoke with. But the community here was created by the “all-star staff”—not the management. As Wilson explained, “They see us as this community that they are a part of. But, at least to me, in my opinion, as someone who’s a part of this community, they sure don’t seem to care about us surviving.”

One employee said that management frequently says that they are “here to address concerns.” Management says “they want to make sure that our community remains like a safe and happy place for everyone.” But, “if that were true, they’d be paying us more,” they explained. “You can’t look at me, someone who has to pay rent and go to the doctor sometimes, and say ‘you’re a full human being’ and pay me close to minimum wage in New York City.”

Brian Flaherty, an award-winning actual play podcaster, hopes the workers will succeed. “As an Upper West Sider, Hex & Co. is my Friendly Local Game Store... Hex & Co. is a place that means a lot to me, but a business that doesn’t provide its employees with the dignity of a living wage doesn’t deserve the superlative of ‘Friendly.’ If Hex & Co. doesn’t recognize Hex Workers United then they’re just another place to buy games,” he told io9. “If they’re not making my community better then I might as well just order from Amazon... Until Hex & Co. voluntarily recognizes Hex Workers United and agrees to their very reasonable demands, I won’t be going back.”

One of the problems that many of the employees iterated was that they feel like Freeman and May think “very little” of them. The impression among employees is that because this isn’t a traditional career, they are often treated as if they are “replaceable and unskilled.” But these workers, many of whom have passion projects and side hustles in the gaming industry, are professionals who are exceptionally good at their jobs.

Every single employee io9 spoke to for this article praised the people they work with. “I am constantly reminded how talented and wonderful our staff is,” Wilson explained. Many of the staff are game designers, published writers, and novelists. A former employee says that the workers at Hex & Co. provide an essential community in a city that is often isolating.

Image: Hex Workers United

Brunetti described just how impactful this space is for the kids who come to the program. “I’ve had a couple kids refer to me and other counselors as their safe space. They come to us for support when they need it. Some parents have told me that this is the highlight of their child’s week.” A former employee said that they frequently had parents come up to them and detail “the explicit and obvious changes in their kids behavior and approach to interacting with other people” after playing games at Hex & Co.

Alejo said that this is “the most enjoyable job I’ve ever had,” and emphasized that they “love my coworkers. I love interacting with them. They’re some of my best friends right now.” Alejo even says that they are genuine friends with some of their regular customers because the community that the staff has created is so warm and welcoming.

When asked why this job was worth fighting for, one employee was particularly eloquent. “The community. The people that I work with are bright and they’re vibrant and they’re friendly… [This job] is rewarding in a lot of ways, especially the after-school program. Working with children is something that I personally find very rewarding. And it’s really about the community that has been built here.”

They continued, “ownership likes to say that they built the community and that they’re responsible for it, but they’re never in the store. The workers built that community. It’s truly one of the last places that I exist in New York City where I can say these are people who I not only feel a connection with because we have something in common, but I feel a connection with because we’re together here… We met in person and this place was wonderful enough to keep us here and bring us together.”

Dillin Apelyan (aka superdillin), a game designer and actual play performer, said to io9 via DM, “Hex & Co. staff have always welcomed me, celebrated my games, and shared their joy and love of gaming with me whenever I spend an evening at any location. The reason Hex & Co. is such a wonderful environment is because of the staff most of all and they deserve to live and live well, full stop. I am rooting for them and will be celebrating this win with them.”

And the exceptionally welcoming and knowledgeable staff cannot afford to live in New York City on the extremely low wages at Hex & Co. While the Hex & Co. unit members would prefer to be voluntarily recognized, they are highly organized and have been making plans to attempt collective bargaining for months. When asked if they were looking at a long fight, one employee, who was involved in the organization effort, and who fears retribution if named, said that they are taking this very, very seriously. They deserve a living wage. They deserve a good workplace. They deserve clarity and transparency. And if Freeman and May refuse voluntary recognition, the union is ready. “We are prepared to escalate,” they said.

io9 reached out to Hex & Co. management for a comment. We will update this article if they return our request.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

10 Great New Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy Films to Put on Your Radar @ io9

Fantastic Fest 2023 is over. What were our favorite films?Image: Fantastic Fest

If you love genre films, there truly is nothing like Fantastic Fest. While most festivals play a more balanced slate of films covering all genres, this Austin, Texas-based fest plays only the good shit. Other festivals sometimes refer to them as “Midnight Movies,” but it’s always midnight at Fantastic Fest. Horror, sci-fi, fantasy, martial arts, all the stuff that never gets nominated for awards, that’s what the festival is all about. In past years, big films such as Zombieland, Split, Frankenweenie, and Pan’s Labyrinth have played there, but really the focus is on the many, many smaller films general audiences don’t discover until much later, if ever.

For example, our favorite film from 2022, The Antares Paradox, still has yet to get a U.S. release while several others (The Menu, Werewolf by Night, Smile, Bones and All) became fan favorites later. But now it’s 2023 and we’re here with a list of the amazing, weird, wonderful genre movies that you should get on your radar now for the upcoming year. Some of these have release plans, others do not, but all are worth at least a glance.

Plus, we’ve added info on a few films we missed at the festival but heard amazing things about too.

1. River

Image: Fantastic Fest

This Japanese time-loop movie has to be seen to be believed. Every single person in town is looped back in time every two minutes but they always keep their memories, meaning they can try and solve the puzzle, in hilarious fashion, each and every time. Destined to be a classic. Read our review here.

2. The Animal Kingdom

Image: Fantastic Fest

The powerful, heartwarming tale of one family’s experiences in a world where humans everywhere are randomly mutating into animals. Just a stunning, beautiful film. Read our review here.

3. Sleep

Image: Fantastic Fest

A wife begins to go crazy as she becomes increasingly sure her husband’s sleepwalking is the result of being possessed by a ghost. Scary, funny, and intense, this is a great movie.

4. Infested

Image: Fantastic Fest

The killer spider genre gets a whole new bite with this edge-of-your-seat thriller about what happens when a high-rise is infested by giant, mutated killer spiders. Yes, the film is scary, but it’s also very human too. Read our review here.

5. The Toxic Avenger

Image: Fantastic Fest

In this modern reimaging of Troma’s outdated cult classic, Peter Dinklage plays a man who is given superhuman powers when dumped in a pool of toxic waste. It’s gory, it’s hilarious, and it’s incredibly dumb, but it’s also done very, very well. Read our review here.

6. Dream Scenario

Image: Fantastic Fest

Nicolas Cage stars as a seemingly normal college professor who quickly becomes the most famous man in the world when he randomly starts appearing in the dreams of people everywhere. Things then take a sinister turn and the movie becomes less about that weird idea and more about fame in a modern society. Smart, funny, and thought-provoking, it’s a very good film. It’s out in November and you can read our review here.

7. Concrete Utopia

Image: Fantastic Fest

We’ve all seen big, global disaster movies, but Concrete Utopia tells that story on a local scale when a single apartment building is all that’s left standing after an earthquake hits Seoul. There’s some spectacle in there but what makes the film so good is how it makes the audience question their own morality. Read our review here.

8. So Unreal

Image: Fantastic Fest

Sometimes you just want to watch a movie about watching movies, and So Unreal is that and so much more. Using footage from films like The Matrix, Tron, The Terminator, Hackers, The Net, and many others, it shows how Hollywood has reacted to the tech explosion of the past half-century. Plus it’s got tons of weird movies to watch out for too. Read our review here.

9. Riddle of Fire

Image: Fantastic Fest

Three kids who just want to play the new video game system they stole get sent on a wild adventure for blueberry pie. It sounds odd, but is completely in line with the very unique, specific, and yet somehow also familiar voice of this nice throwback film. Read our review here.

10. There’s Something in the Barn

Image: Fantastic Fest

Call it National Lampoon’s Presents Gremlins in Norway. Martin Starr stars as a goofy dad who moves his family to Norway only to find out the barn on their property has an elf living in it. The movie is super goofy and a little uneven, but a heck of a lot of fun to watch either way. Read our review here.

11. Where the Devil Roams

Image: Fantastic Fest

A family of circus performers looking to spice up their act happens upon a devilish ability that involves lots and lots of killing. The first half of the film is a little slow and vague but once it gets going, it’s brutal as all hell.

Note: We’re at the point in the list where everything from here on out was just okay. We didn’t dislike any of these movies, but we didn’t love them (hence the headline saying 10, but there are more). Nevertheless, some people will love them, and we think they’re noteworthy enough to get a shout out.

12. Project Silence

Image: Fantastic Fest

Project Silence has an amazing premise that gets lost in one major issue. The premise is that a bunch of genetically enhanced attack dogs are set loose on a bridge and the humans have to fight for their lives. However, who wants to cheer for dogs being killed, right? Also, the movie kind of treats both the dogs and the humans as heroes, which makes for a very uneven experience.

13. The Last Video Store

Image: Fantastic Fest

A girl returning movies to the last video store in Canada finds herself, along with the store’s owner, fighting the larger-than-life stars of those movies. It’s a super fun idea and the movie has a couple of great scenes, but the whole thing feels mighty stretched out in a feature format.

14. In My Mother’s Skin

Image: Fantastic Fest

A Filipino family near the end of World War II is faced with some truly terrible situations and, eventually, the consequences of trusting an evil fairy. The movie has some fantastic body horror in it, and wonderful performances, but wow can it be slow as heck. It premiered at Sundance earlier this year (where we ran a review) and it’ll be on Prime Video soon.

15. The Origin

Image: Fantastic Fest

Scheduled for release next year, this survival film starring Shadow and Bone’s Kit Young wants to be a prehistoric Predator. However, once its big secret is revealed, all the goodwill it’s built up with some excellent filmmaking gets lost in the obviousness.

But also...

The world of The Creator.Image: Disney

Though we didn’t see it at Fantastic Fest, The Creator also played there, which we already saw and really loved. Plus, we attended a secret screening that ended up being Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn. It’s not an io9 movie (i.e., it’s not sci-fi, fantasy, or horror), but a fantastic film to be sure.

We missed...

When Evil Lurks.Image: Fantastic Fest

Almost 100 feature films play over the course of Fantastic Fest so we missed, well, most of them, considering we only saw 16 over the four days we were in attendance. But a few of the ones we missed that had the best buzz were UFO Sweden, described as almost an Amblin-like alien film; Suitable Flesh, an intense Lovecraft adaptation from Joe Lynch; When Evil Lurks, an apparently dynamite and different possession film; and Kill, which was described as John Wick on a train.

A New X-Men Movie Is in Its Very Earliest Stages at Marvel Studios @ io9

The X-Men are coming!Image: Fox

The mutants are coming! The mutants are coming! A new report suggests that now, with the writers’ strike over, Marvel Studios has put the wheels in motion to start taking meetings about an upcoming X-Men movie. This is the absolute earliest stage of the process—but it is the start of the process, and that’s saying something.

According to Deadline, later this fall Marvel Studios will start taking pitch meetings with writers who are interested in scripting the film, whatever it ends up being. There’s no planned release date so if Marvel doesn’t hear a pitch it likes, it’s not the end of the world, but it would slow down development on a highly anticipated project fans have been waiting for since Disney announced it was acquiring Fox way back in 2017. The thought, however, is that a writer will be hired sometime early next year, and things will move on from there.

The idea of mutants has already begun to be seeded in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, with next year’s hypothetical release of Deadpool 3 (the actors’ strike may delay that), Fox’s Marvel properties have already begun to invade the MCU. Fantastic Four is also moving along, with a tentative May 2, 2025 release date, a year after Deadpool. Those two are then, again tentatively, going to be followed by Avengers: The Kang Dynasty in May 2026 and Avengers: Secret Wars in May 2027. So, realistically, it may not be until 2028 that this X-Men movie, pitched in 2023, would see the light of day.

But it’s happening. It’s coming. And X-Men fans can begin to get excited. Plus, if you’re a professional writer you can start thinking about your dream X-Men project. And call your agent about it. Now is the time.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

The First Toxic Avenger Trailer Is a Bloody Good Mess @ io9

Peter Dinklage is The Toxic Avenger.Image: Legendary

Break out the mops, throw on the tutus, and slide that eye down to your cheek. The first trailer for the remake of The Toxic Avenger is here and it perfectly portrays the film’s irreverent tone and gory tendencies.

Directed by Macon Blair, this new Toxic Avenger stars Game of Thrones fan favorite Peter Dinklage as Winston, a widower struggling to raise a stepson played by Jacob Tremblay. When his job, run by an evil corporate ass played by Kevin Bacon, won’t pay for health insurance, Winston fights back and ends up in a vat of toxic waste. Now, you don’t see really any of that in this first teaser (note that it’s very much NSFW!), but take that story and put it in this world, and you begin to get the idea of what this movie is.

The Toxic Avenger - Exclusive Red Band Teaser Trailer (2023) Peter Dinklage, Elijah Wood

That trailer comes courtesy of IGN ahead of the film’s West Coast premiere at Beyond Fest in Los Angeles, CA this week. Fortunately for you, we attended the world premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX last week and have a full review for you here. The movie fully embraces its Troma roots in all the best ways—it’s dumb, it’s bloody, it’s fun—but rejects them in all the bad ways. Mainly, this one has a story that won’t make you turn away in disgust. It may make you vomit out of disgust, though, cause the film is gross as hell, as one would hope from a film called The Toxic Avenger.

There’s no word yet on a release plan for the film though hopefully general audiences will get to see it sooner rather than later. It’s certainly not for everyone but if it’s a movie you’re interested in seeing, you’re gonna like it.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

October's Huge List of New Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Books @ io9

The Jinn-Bot of ShantiportImage: Tordotcom

The days may be getting shorter, but October’s list of new sci-fi, fantasy, and horror books is as long as ever, with a seasonally appropriate emphasis on “horror.” There are witches, haunted houses, monsters, and more—plus celebrity cameos, like Star Trek icon Patrick Stewart, and a host of new anthologies, including an eerie collection edited by Jordan Peele.

Image: Tor Books

After the Forest by Kell Woods

This tale is set 20 years after “Greta” and “Hans” defeated the gingerbread-house witch—but life for the adult siblings is no fairy tale, with Greta struggling to support her brother and herself with the help of a magic recipe. (October 3)

Image: Peachtree Teen

Before the Devil Knows You’re Here by Autumn Krause

In 1830s Wisconsin, a Mexican American poet sets out to rescue her brother when he’s kidnapped by a strange creature that leads her on a surreal journey through the harsh frontier. (October 3)

Image: PUSH

Beholder by Ryan La Sala

The sole survivor of a massacre that devastates New York City’s fashionable art world must prove he’s not the killer—and becomes “swept up in a supernatural mystery, one of secret occult societies and deadly eldritch horrors with rather distinctive taste.” (October 3)

Image: SparkPress

Blood Divided by Katie Keridan

The Felserpent Chronicles series continues in this sequel to Reign Returned; it follows as “Kyra Valorian and Sebastian Sayre have finally remembered their pasts as the former Felserpent Queen and King, and now it’s time for them to change the future.” (October 3)

Image: Titan Books

Bloom by Delilah S. Dawson

After they meet at a farmers’ market, Rosemary and Ash feel an instant connection. But as Ro becomes nearly obsessed with her new love, she realizes she’s being sucked into dark and dangerous territory. Read an excerpt here. (October 3)

Image: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Curious Tides by Pascale Lacelle

A student at a magic college experiences a sudden surge in her powers after an accident kills several of her classmates—or does it? She’ll have to keep her alarming new abilities secret while she searches for the truth. (October 3)

Image: Tor Nightfire

The Dead Take the A Train by Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw

The Carrion City Duology begins with this tale that takes us into “New York’s magical underbelly,” following a 30-year-old burnout who takes a dangerous gig protecting her best friend—and accidentally dooms the entire world in the process. (October 3)

Image: William Morrow

Edenville by Sam Rebelein

This horror tale follows a struggling author who signs on as a college writer-in-residence—but soon realizes his idyllic new town has dark secrets lurking just below the surface. (October 3)

Image: Harper Voyager

The Hurricane Wars by Thea Guanzon

“The fates of two bitter enemies with opposing magical abilities are swept together in The Hurricane Wars, the spellbinding debut in a fantasy romance trilogy set in a Southeast Asia-inspired world ravaged by storms.” Read an excerpt here. (October 3)

Image: Tordotcom

The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport by Samit Basu

Described as “a mash-up of Aladdin and Murderbot,” this tale takes place on a dying planet and follows a brother and sister with conflicting ideas on how to face the future, something that becomes more complicated when a wish-granting AI enters the picture. (October 3)

Image: Tor Nightfire

Knock Knock, Open Wide by Neil Sharpson

This tale “weaves horror and Celtic myth into a terrifying, heartbreaking supernatural tale of fractured family bonds, the secrets we carry, and the veiled forces that guide Irish life.” (October 3)

Image: Gallery Books

Making It So: A Memoir by Patrick Stewart

The Star Trek and X-Men icon—among other achievements—presents a self-penned look back at his life. (October 3)

Image: MCD

Menewood by Nicola Griffith

This sequel to Hild “transports readers back to seventh-century Britain, a land of rival kings and religions poised for epochal change.” (October 3)

Image: Hyperion Avenue

Midnight Showing by Megan Shepherd

The Malice Compendium series continues as Haven unravels the secrets of her family curse while dodging magic that’s emerged from her father’s final manuscript—and investigating murders at Hollywood studio known for its classic horror films. (October 3)

Image: Sourcebooks Fire

Night of the Witch by Sara Raasch and Beth Revis

A new duology begins with this epic fantasy tale about a witch and a witch hunter who fall in love when they’re forced to work together. (October 3)

Image: Random House

Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror edited by Jordan Peele

The writer-director of Get Out curated “this groundbreaking anthology of all-new stories of Black horror, exploring not only the terrors of the supernatural but the chilling reality of injustice that haunts our nation.” Contributors include P. Djèlí Clark, Tananarive Due, N. K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, Tochi Onyebuchi, Rebecca Roanhorse, Cadwell Turnbull, and more. (October 3)

Image: Arcade

The Owl Cries by Hye-Young Pyun, translated by Sora-Kim Russell

“From the Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of The Hole, a slow-burning noir thriller with a touch of horror and the uncanny.” (October 3)

Image: Titan Books

The Pale House Devil by Richard Kadrey

A pair of paranormal mercenaries, one alive and one undead, are hired to rid a mansion of its pesky resident demon—but as they get to work, they realize there are even more terrifying forces at work around them. (October 3)

Image: Tor Books

The Princess of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

“Set two years before Dune: Princess of Dune is the never-before-told story of two key women in the life of Paul Muad’Dib—Princess Irulan, his wife in name only, and Paul’s true love, the Fremen Chani. Both women become central to Paul’s galaxy-spanning Imperial reign.” (October 3)

Image: Del Rey

The Quiet Room by Terry Miles

“The lore and legends around the underground game known as Rabbits gain new dimensions in this twisty tale set in the world of the hit Rabbits podcast.” (October 3)

Image: Orbit

Saevus Corax Deals With the Dead by K.J. Parker

A man who’s carved out a life doing battlefield salvage—swords, armor, dead bodies—must figure out what to do when his unpleasant past comes back to haunt him. (October 3)

Image: Grand Central Publishing

The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch by Melinda Taub

The wildest sister from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice gets her due in this retelling that imagines the English countryside is full of magic, and she’s a witch figuring out the strength of her powers. (October 3)

Image: Redhook

Shield Maiden by Sharon Emmerichs

“All her life, Fryda has longed to be a shield maiden, an honor reserved for Geatland’s mightiest warriors. When a childhood accident leaves her tragically injured and unfit for the battlefield, her dreams are dashed—or so she thinks. But a strange, unfathomable power is awakening within her, a power that will soon be put to the test.” (October 3)

Image: Tor Books

Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

A young woman desperate to get herself and her brother out of their dead-end Kentucky town hopes the answer lies in a creepy mansion with a strange past: it was once occupied by the 19th century author of a single eerie best-seller. (October 3)

Image: Little, Brown and Company

Throne of the Fallen by Kerri Maniscalco

The best-selling YA author makes her adult debut with this standalone romantic fantasy “about a dark prince battling an impossible curse—and the artist who might be the only one who can set him free.” (October 3)

Image: Tor Books

Yumi and the Painter by Brandon Sanderson

The author “adds to his Cosmere universe shared by Mistborn and the Stormlight Archive with a new standalone novel especially for fans of fantasy romances.” (October 3)

Image: Del Rey

The Art of Destiny by Wesley Chu

“A hero once believed to be the chosen one must find a new path with the help of a band of unlikely allies in the sequel to The Art of Prophecy.” (October 10)

Image: Gallery Books

Becoming the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar

This sequel to Chasing the Boogeyman tells “a tale of obsession and the adulation of evil, exploring modern society’s true-crime obsession with unflinching honesty, sparing no one from the glare of the spotlight,” with one among the cast who “may be the most terrifying monster of them all.” (October 10)

Image: Angry Robot

The Bone Roots by Gabriela Houston

In this folklore-inspired fantasy, a mother fights to protect her magically gifted daughter from the same creature that snatched her brother decades prior. (October 10)

Image: Berkely

A Dawn of Onyx by Kate Golden

In this fantasy romance, a healer is taken prisoner and forced to use her magic to help the Onyx King’s army. She’ll have to trust a fellow prisoner if she has any hope of escaping. (October 10)

Image: Orbit

The Eight Reindeer of the Apocalypse by Tom Holt

In this novel set in the world of the author’s The Portable Door, the commercial sorcerers at Dawson, Ahriman & Dawson take on a new metaphysical engineering challenge: recruiting Santa Claus to their cause. (October 10)

Image: Ace

An Inheritance of Magic by Benedict Jacka

In this contemporary fantasy, the mega-rich control the world, including all its magic. An ambitious outsider strives to use his talent and infiltrate their exclusive ranks. (October 10)

Image: St. Martin’s Press

Last to Leave the Room by Caitlin Starling

In this speculative horror tale, a cruel doctor trying to discover the reason her city is sinking finds a strange door in her basement—and behind it, a doppelgänger whose motives are as murky as the sinking itself. (October 10)

Image: Titan Books

A Light Most Hateful by Hailey Piper

A young woman who’s estranged from her family struggles to survive when a storm with magical, reality-warping powers hits her small town. (October 10)

Image: Ace

Long Past Dues by James J. Butcher

In this urban fantasy, “Grimsby, the newest Auditor in the magical Department of Unorthodox Affairs, finds himself in hot water when he intercepts a friend’s case.” Read an excerpt here. (October 10)

Image: Orbit

Red River Seven by A.J. Ryan

Seven people awaken on a boat at sea—none can remember who they are or how they got there, and all have a gun. They decide to work together to try to survive, but tensions swiftly rise as the mystery deepens. (October 10)

Image: Flame Tree Press

Silent Key by Laurel Hightower

After her husband’s mysterious death, an ex-detective digs into his equally mysterious life—uncovering a murder mystery and a supernatural menace that is now targeting her young daughter. (October 10)

Image: Harper

A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories by Terry Pratchett

“A delightfully funny, fantastically inventive collection of 20 newly unearthed short stories by Sir Terry Pratchett, the award-winning and bestselling author of the phenomenally successful Discworld fantasy series ... These rediscovered tales were written by Terry Pratchett under a pseudonym for British newspapers during the 1970s and 1980s.” (October 10)

Image: Del Rey

Sword Catcher by Cassandra Clare

A new fantasy series from the author of the Shadowhunter Chronicles begins as “two outcasts find themselves caught in a web of forbidden love, dangerous magic, and dark secrets that could change the world forever.” (October 10)

Image: Atlantic Monthly Press

Touched by Walter Mosley

“Martin Just wakes up one morning after what feels like, and might actually be, a centuries-long sleep with two new innate pieces of knowledge: Humanity is a virus destined to destroy all existence. And he is the Cure. Martin begins slipping into an alternate consciousness, with new physical strengths, to violently defend his family—the only Black family in their neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles—against pure evil.” (October 10)

Image: Dead Sky Publishing

White Trash and Recycled Nightmares by Rebecca Rowland

This story collection gathers “ a 20-tale meal of cosmic, creature, and quiet horror in platters heaping with unsettling trepidation.” (October 10)

Image: William Morrow

The Witch of Maracoor by Gregory Maguire

The final installment in the Wicked author’s Another Day series follows the granddaughter of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West as she sets out to right wrongs from her past. (October 10)

Image: Head of Zeus

The Best of World SF Volume 3 edited by Lavie Tidhar

This collection gathers “28 new short stories representing the state of the art in international science fiction,” including eight “original and exclusive” selections. (October 12)

Image: Mariner Books

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2023 edited by John Joseph Adams and R.F. Kuang

Contributors include Nathan Ballingrud, Theodora Goss, Alix E. Harrow, S. L. Huang, Stephen Graham Jones, Malka Older, Catherynne M. Valente, and more. (October 17)

Image: Union Square & Co.

A Bright Heart by Kate Chenli

“What if you could avenge your own murder? A brilliant young woman gets a second chance at life in this debut YA tale of vengeance, court intrigue, and romance, inspired by classic Chinese tropes.” Read an excerpt here. (October 17)

Image: DAW

Defiance by C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher

“The 22nd book in the beloved Foreigner saga continues the adventures of diplomat Bren Cameron as he navigates the tenuous peace he has struck between human refugees and the alien atevi.” (October 17)

Image: Harper Voyager

Generation Ship by Michael Mammay

This standalone from the author of Planetside is about the people of a new colony facing “tyrannical leaders, revolution, crippling instability, and an unknown alien planet that could easily destroy them all.” (October 17)

Image: Tin House Books

Hazardous Spirits by Anbara Salam

A 1920s Scottish housewife is startled (and skeptical) when her husband reveals he can speak to the dead. As he becomes part of the spiritualist movement, she becomes concerned that the ghosts of her own past may invade the present. (October 17)

Image: Tor Nightfire

Oracle by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

In this supernatural thriller, people start vanishing after an 18th century ship ominously turns up in the middle of vacant field, and an occult specialist is called in to investigate the mystery. (October 17)

Image: Tachyon Publications

A Stranger in the Citadel by Tobias S. Buckell

“At the revolutionary crossroads of magic, betrayal, and long-forgotten truths, a naïve, compassionate royal and a determined, hunted librarian discover a dangerous world of mortal and ancient menaces.” (October 17)

Image: Orbit

These Burning Stars by Bethany Jacobs

This space-opera debut kicks off a new trilogy, following “a dangerous cat-and-mouse quest for revenge. An empire that spans star systems, built on the bones of a genocide. A carefully hidden secret that could collapse worlds, hunted by three women with secrets of their own.” (October 17)

Image: Tordotcom

Under the Smokestrewn Sky by A. Deborah Baker

“The final part of the enchanting Up-and-Under quartet reminds us of the value of friendship and the price one sometimes pays for straying from the path. No-one’s safety can be guaranteed under the smokestrewn sky.” (October 17)

Image: Delacorte Press

The Unmaking of June Farrow by Adrienne Young

In a small community, woman whose family is said to be cursed searches for her missing mother—while dealing with strange visions, including a mysterious door that opens the way to mending the past and shaping her future. (October 17)

Image: Sourcebooks Landmark

The Witches at the End of the World by Chelsea Iversen

Witch sisters dealt with their mother’s violent death by fleeing deep into the forest. Years later, their relationship fractures when one leaves home to start a new life—and the other reacts by unleashing a terrible curse. (October 17)

Image: Pyr

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror: Volume 4 edited by Paula Guran

“From paranormal plots to stories of the supernatural, tales of the unfamiliar have always fascinated us humans. To keep the tradition alive, fantasy aficionado Paula Guran has gathered the most delightfully disturbing work from some of today’s finest writers of the fantastique.” (October 17)

Image: Titan Books

Christmas and Other Horrors: An Anthology of Solstice Horror edited by Ellen Datlow

“From the eerie Austrian Schnabelperchten to the skeletal Welsh Mari Lwyd, by way of ravenous golems, uncanny neighbors, and unwelcome visitors, Christmas and Other Horrors captures the heart and horror of the festive season.” Contributors include Tananarive Due, Jeffrey Ford, Stephen Graham Jones, Richard Kadrey, Alma Katsu, Cassandra Khaw, Josh Malerman, and more. (October 23)

Image: CAEZIK SF & Fantasy

Between Dystopias: The Road to Afropantheology by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Joshua Uchenna Omenga

“A captivating collection of original stories and essays by award-winning authors that celebrates the richness and complexity of African mysticism.” (October 24)

Image: DAW

The Innocent Sleep by Seanan McGuire

The 18th novel of the October Daye urban fantasy series follows Tybalt, King of Cats, as he fights against the mind-warping schemes of Titania to reunite with the woman he loves. (October 24)

Image: Erewhon

Jewel Box: Stories by E. Lily Yu

“The strange, the sublime, and the monstrous confront one another” in this collection of 22 stories. (October 24)

Image: Tor Books

Malarkoi by Alex Pheby

The Cities of the Weft series continues as the murdered Nathan Treeves’ companions head to Malarkoi, a city where they hope to find safety—but find new dangers in this tale of “battle, sacrifice, magic, and treachery.” (October 24)

Image: Small Beer Press

The Privilege of the Happy Ending: Small, Medium, and Large Stories by Kij Johnson

Two never-before-published tales are included in this collection of the author’s speculative fiction from the past 10 years, exploring “gender, animals, and the nature of stories, and range in form from classically told tales to deeply experimental works.” (October 24)

Image: Tor Books

Traitor of Redwinter by Ed McDonald

The Redwinter Chronicles continues, following tales of “shady politics, militant monks, ancient powers... and a young woman navigating a world in which no one is quite what they seem.” (October 24)

Image: The MIT Press

Communications Breakdown: SF Stories About the Future of Communication edited by Jonathan Strahan

“An exciting science fiction collection that looks at what future communication might look like and how our shifting relationships with technology could change this most human of capabilities.” Contributors include Cory Doctorow, Lavanya Lakshminarayan, Ian McDonald, and more. (October 31)

Image: Blackstone Publishing

Dark Moon, Shallow Sea by David R. Slayton

A new epic fantasy series begins with the death of moon goddess Phoebe at the hands of followers of the sun god, Hyperion. A sun knight and a night shade form an unlikely partnership when they both go after a mysterious box hidden in Hyperion’s temple. (October 31)

Image: Tor Books

The Origins of the Wheel of Time: The Legends and Mythologies That Inspired Robert Jordan by Michael Livingson

“Origins of The Wheel of Time provides exciting knowledge and insights to both new and longtime fans looking to either expand their understanding of the series or unearth the real-life influences that Jordan utilized in his world building—all in one, accessible text.” (October 31)

Image: Atria Books

The Paleontologist by Luke Dumas

“A haunted paleontologist returns to the museum where his sister was abducted years earlier and is faced with a terrifying and murderous spirit in this chilling novel.” (October 31)

Image: Gallery / Saga Press

The Reformatory by Tananarive Due

This 1950s-set historical fiction tale follows a 12-year-old Florida youth “sent to a segregated reform school that is a chamber of terrors where he sees the horrors of racism and injustice, for the living, and the dead.” (October 31)

Image: Tordotcom

A Season of Monstrous Conceptions by Lina Rather

“An eldritch historical fantasy of midwifery, monstrosity, and the rending of the world.” (October 31)

Image: Hodder & Stoughton

Shanghai Immortal by A.Y. Chao

“This richly told adult fantasy debut teems with Chinese deities and demons cavorting in jazz age Shanghai.” (October 31)

Image: St. Martin’s Press

Zoey Is Too Drunk for This Dystopia by Jason Pargin

The Zoey Ashe sci-fi series continues as the underworld heiress faces a new crisis: circumventing a crime that occurs live on social media that she believes is a high-tech hoax designed to bring her down. (October 31)

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

This Prey Behind-the-Scenes Clip Explores the Predator's Weapons @ io9

Prey is coming to 4K and Blu-ray next week.Image: Fox

Anyone disappointed that they didn’t get to see last year’s awesome Predator-prequel Prey in theaters will soon get the next best thing. The streaming title is getting its very own 4K/Blu-ray release next week and io9 has an exclusive clip from the special features.

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, Prey stars Amber Midthunder as Naru, a young Comanche woman who finds herself, and her tribe, in a battle with a mysterious creature. One that, we soon realize, is very similar to the Predators we saw Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Glover tangle with over 30 years ago. It’s a phenomenal movie and even though it debuted on Hulu, it’s now getting its own physical release on October 3. The release comes with all manner of special features (see the full list below), but here’s a little taste, exclusive to io9, with Trachtenberg talking about the evolution, or rather devolution, of the Predator’s weapons in the film.

Prey Exclusive Featurette Clip: The Predator’s Weapons

That clip is from the making-of documentary on the disc, which is just one of the special features. Here’s the full rundown.

Making of Prey: Step behind the scenes of Prey as the cast and crew explore the genesis of the project, how they gave authenticity to the story, the intense physical training the cast endured, and the effects work that brought the iconic Predator back to the screen.

Prey FYC Panel With Cast & Crew: Go deeper into Prey with a lively panel discussion featuring director Dan Trachtenberg, actor Amber Midthunder, producer Jhane Myers, director of photography Jeff Cutter, film editor Angela M. Catanzaro and creature effects designer Alec Gillis.

Alternative Opening Scene: Check out a scene that didn’t make the cut with commentary by Dan Trachtenberg.

Deleted Scene: Big Warrior, Little Warrior: Check out a scene that didn’t make the cut with commentary by Dan Trachtenberg.

Deleted Scene: Treetop Chase (pre-vis): Check out a scene that didn’t make the cut with commentary by Dan Trachtenberg.

Audio Commentary: Play Movie With Audio Commentary By Dan Trachtenberg, Amber Midthunder, Jeff Cutter & Angela M. Catanzaro.

Prey will be released on 4K and Blu-ray October 3. Best Buy has an exclusive steelbook and the normal version is available everywhere physical discs are still sold. Also, it’s still on Hulu to stream here.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

Updates From Loki Season 2, and More @ io9

Screenshot: Marvel Studios

A new Fall of the House of Usher clip introduces us to its world. Chucky makes a threat in new footage from season 3. Samara Weaving’s new sci-fi action movie finds a home.. Plus, teases for Luca Guadagnino’s take on Lord of the Flies, and even more footage from Saw X and Exorcist: Believer. Spoilers now!


According to Bloody-Disgusting, Republic Pictures has acquired the North American rights to Azrael, an action/sci-fi movie starring Samara Weaving. Based on a script by Simon Barrett (The Guest, You’re Next) and directed by Eli Katz (Channel Zero, The Haunting of By Manor), the film is said to be set “in a world in which no one speaks,” focusing on “a devout female-led community” that “hunts down a young woman (Weaving) who has escaped her imprisonment. Recaptured by its ruthless leaders, Azrael is to be sacrificed to pacify an ancient evil that resides deep within the surrounding wilderness–yet she will stop at nothing to ensure her own freedom and survival.”

Lord of the Flies

In conversation with Collider, producer Lindsay Beer described Luca Guadagnino’s upcoming film adaptation of Lord of the Flies as a “psychological horror” movie that feels “more current” than previous iterations.

It leans so much into psychological horror and it’s so rich in character drama, as you would expect from somebody like [Guadagnino]. But it’s scary. It gives you so much unease reading it, and I think it taps into a more current version of it than we’ve seen before. I think some people have tried to tackle that property in a way that doesn’t really resonate to now, and I think that the whole approach has been very fresh and refreshing.

Saw X

Amanda has second thoughts about becoming Jigsaw’s apprentice in a new clip from Saw X.

SAW X (2023) Official Clip ‘Get it Together’ – Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith

The Exorcist: Believer

Chris meets Angela at the hospital in a new clip from The Exorcist: Believer.

The Exorcist: Believer Movie Clip - Chris MacNeil Sees Angela (2023)

Relatedly, Jason Blum, David Gordon Green, Ellen Burstyn, Leslie Odom, Jr. and Ann Dowd discuss the original Exorcist in a new featurete.

The Exorcist: Believer | Legacy

The Naughty Nine

A group of kids on Santa’s naughty list decided to heist the North Pole in the trailer for The Naughty Nine, starring Danny Glover as Santa Claus.

Disney The Naughty Nine | Teaser | NEW Christmas Movie | Disney Original Movie | @disneychannel


Elsewhere, a “multi-dimensional cable box installs itself into a neighborhood” in the trailer for HeBGB, a new anthology horror-comedy coming to Screambox this October 13.

‘HeBGB TV’ Brings Old School Variety Show Chaos to SCREAMBOX! [Trailer]


Trevante and Rose follow a lead in the synopsis for “Down the Rabbit Hole,” the seventh episode of Invasion’s second season.

Trevante and Rose investigate a clue that leads them to Ben Shelton’s farm. Monty has suspicions about the mission and confides in Jamila.

[Spoiler TV]

Star Wars: Ahsoka

C-3PO enjoys his own Ahsoka character poster courtesy of the official Star Wars Twitter page.


A new TV spot from Disney+ spot hypes Loki’s return next week.

Marvel Studios’ Loki Season 2 | Streaming in 1 Week

The Fall of the House of Usher

Carla Gugino tempts Prospero “Perry” Usher (Sauriyan Sapkota) in a new clip from Mike Flanagan’s The Fall of the House of Usher.

The Fall of the House of Usher | Exclusive Clip: Perry Meets a Stranger | Netflix


Finally, Chucky taunts a surprisingly-shredded Jake in a new clip from his third season premiere at Syfy.

Chucky 301 Sneak Peek

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

Found in a “FOREST” (Mini #28) @ Bureau 42

Can you find the hidden words? In this mini episode of Dorky Geeky Nerdy, I need you to find the words that can be found with the letters in FOREST. All the answers will be words using some or all of those six letters.

Got it?

OK, here we go.

Send in a voice message:
Support this podcast:

Disneyland Movie From David Gordon Green Is on Hold for Now @ io9

Photo: Walt Disney Archives

Filmmaker David Gordon Green’s Disneyland biopic centering on Walt Disney and his brother Roy O. Disney is currently being held up... for now.

The Exorcist: Believer director told io9 exclusively, “It’s on pause right now. There’s some rights issues.” The film from Green, who excels in finding the honesty in any genre from horror to comedy, would surely offer an interesting and complex view on the Disney family. “That was going to be a lot of fun. It’s a really interesting story about the brothers.”

The film was set to chronicle the journey taken by Disney in dreaming up his kingdom; Roy advised him after their success in the movies, but—always a man of tomorrow—Walt roped his brother into another giant gamble with Disneyland. They would often butt heads, but ultimately changed the world of entertainment.

Walt may be the name everyone remembers, but Roy also played a pivotal role in making Disney the empire it is today. According to an anecdote shared on Roy’s profile on the Walt Disney Family Museum historical archive, “He paid ABC 15 times its $500,000 investment in Disneyland to buy out its 34% interest. This gave Walt Disney Productions control of the park and the freedom to take elsewhere their television series that ABC cancelled, the Mickey Mouse Club and Zorro. This figure, $7.5 million, led even Walt Disney to ask Roy before the negotiation, ‘Do you think it’s necessary?’”

Hopefully, there will be good updates on this project soon; our dream casting is Dan Stevens as Walt and Ryan Gosling as Roy. Hey, as time goes on they can age into the roles, though hopefully we won’t have to wait too long before the Disneyland movie project is no longer “on pause.”

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Argylle, the New Spy Film By Matthew Vaughn, Looks Purr-fect @ io9

Dua Lipa and Henry Cavill are just two of the many stars in Matthew Vaughn’s new film, Argylle.Image: Universal Pictures

We may not ever see the end of Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman series on film, but his next movie looks like it fits right in. This February, the man who directed Kingsman, Kick-Ass, Layer Cake, and X-Men: First Class returns with his latest spy film, Argylle, and the trailer has to be seen to be believed.

Seriously. If you don’t know what this movie is about, watch this trailer and we’re sure the smile on your face will grow bigger and bigger. And not only because with each scene, a new mega-star is revealed to be in the cast. Check out the trailer for Matthew Vaughn’s Argylle right here:

Argylle | Official Trailer

Yup, Argylle not only stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Henry Cavill, John Cena, Dua Lipa, Bryan Cranston, Ariana DeBose, and Catherine O’Hara, it brings back previous Vaughn baddies Sofia Boutella and Samuel L. Jackson to boot. What a cast.

The premise feels a little bit like the recent hit The Lost City, only with a bit more bite and a lot more purring. Because, of course, how can you not love that adorable cat in the middle of this caper? (A fun fact from the press release: the cat, named Alfie, is played by Chip, the real-life cat of supermodel Claudia Vaughn, aka Claudia Schiffer, Vaughn’s wife.)

We have no idea if Argylle will be as good or fun as that trailer, but it has to be better than Vaughn’s last film, The Kings Man. That movie was just, woof, terrible. But Argylle looks, as the headline says, purr-fect.

Written by by Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman), Argylle opens in theaters February 2. Do you think the cat is actually the spy?

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2001: A Space Odyssey spacesuit up for auction @ Boing Boing

image: Heritage Auctions

When you're offworld seeking out extraterrestrial monoliths, you could do worse than be seen in this handsome ensemble originally worn by Dr. Bill Michaels (played by Sean Sullivan) in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967). (Video below.) The six-piece spacesuit is currently up for auction with a current bid of $82,500. — Read the rest

Ahsoka's Composers Break Down Scoring This Week's Big Cameo @ io9

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Balancing the need to bring a new but familiar sound to Star Wars while also playing in the footsteps of John Williams’ legendary music for the saga is a challenge for every composer who joins the franchise. Few have faced it as often as the Kiner family—composer and father Kevin, alongside his children Deana and Sean—whose work has come to define a new generation of Star Wars music across Clone Wars, Rebels, Bad Batch, and now Ahsoka. But even then, some moments will always find a way to present new challenges.

Such was the case this week for the Kiners when they had to score a brief, surprising moment for this week’s penultimate episode of Ahsoka: the return of Anthony Daniels as C-3PO. Racing in—well, as fast as those goldenrod droid legs will carry him—to provide a message of clemency from an absent Senator Leia Organa to save Hera from the wrath of a New Republic disciplinary tribunal, 3PO’s brief moment in Ahsoka’s narrative is a touching link between the events of the franchise’s streaming TV universe and the wider Star Wars movie mythology. But it was also a moment where, as Ahsoka’s composers, the Kiners found themselves grappling with the idea of playing with the iconic motifs of John Williams.

“Honestly, not putting in any music [at first],” Deana Kiner—who, alongside her father and as the music group Kiner Music with her brother Sean, has helped score Star Wars Rebels, the seventh season of the Clone Wars, The Bad Batch, and now Ahsoka—said reflecting on the process of scoring Threepio’s arrival.

“Originally, that scene played completely dry until we realized it was playing too empty,” Sean added. “And then the music came very, very naturally because we had license to use those themes, [but] that’s just how it was spotted,” he continued, referring to the stage of the composing process where the footage is looked over to see how and where the composers’ scores will be most effectively placed.

“It’s a strong scene, but I think that was the fastest cue—in terms of writing—for the entire season,” Sean said, when the composers ultimately decided to spotlight Threepio with a moment that blends Ahsoka’s thematic work for the New Republic with elements of some of Williams’ most iconic pieces from the films, the main Star Wars fanfare and, of course, Leia’s incredibly touching theme. “That came out in under an hour, I believe. That’s way faster than anything we’ve ever written. But we were just channeling John a little bit, and it was just natural to follow in terms of leitmotif for this. When you see C-3PO, you just get those chills. ‘Oh man, there’s the guy I’ve been watching since I was a kid,’ you know? He’s talking about Leia, and Leia’s pulling a baller move saving Hera from these politicians. It all just felt very natural.”

“I personally have been working 17 years trying to refine what it means to sound like Star Wars without aping John Williams, without being Mini Me John Williams,” Kevin—who has been a part of Star Wars since scoring Clone Wars almost two decades ago—said of the push and pull between incorporating elements of Williams’ iconic music and charting his own sonic path in the galaxy far, far away. “And they [Deana and Sean] have been spending 10 years at the same time. And it’s really tough. It’s a super, super fine line because you want the feeling of... the very first cue on [Ahsoka’s] soundtrack starts out with this Japanese percussion, kind of woody percussion, but then it goes kind of similar to the Star Wars sound. With the New Republic [scores], I’m pretty proud of the fact most of the feedback I’ve received has been positive. So I think we’ve been successful in not just rehashing, or whatever you want to call it—we try to give it the Star Wars sound, the sound John Williams used.”

“Part of our approach is to build on what influenced John, so by basically building on our master’s master. Like, classical pieces he was referencing, pieces he would draw from, we would also look at those pieces,” Deana added. “We find that implementing those and utilizing them can be just as effective to make it feel more Star Wars.”

“A few times we surprised Dave [Filoni] by putting the Force theme in,” Kevin continued. “One time he changed it and said, ‘No, let’s do it in this other scene,’ but most of the time if we’re going to use a John Williams theme, Dave has the idea to use it. And out of five hours on the soundtrack, there’s probably a minute and a half of John Williams’ themes. But it speaks to how powerful those themes are, that you remember at the end of episode four [when Anakin appears], and all of a sudden part of the Imperial March kicks in. Oh boy, thumbs up!”

“We try to treat it like the strongest spice in our arsenal. We don’t want to put too much of it, because otherwise it will start to lose its potency. Very similar to cooking, really, where we know how impactful it will be if you just get a small taste of it and it hits you at just the right moment,” Deana reflected. “That’s how we try to approach it, using it as tastefully as we can.”

“The cooking reference is, we’ve been cooking with this stew for a long time. It’s kind of ingrained in the pot,” Kevin concluded. “So now it kind of comes naturally that when it’s time to sound like Star Wars, we sound like Star Wars. It’s our sound, and yet it harkens to what John was doing, as well.”

Stay tuned to io9 for more from our chat with the Kiners soon.

Stream Ahsoka now

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Watch the First 10 Minutes of Blue Beetle for Free on YouTube @ io9

Screenshot: DC Studios

Blue Beetle delivered a solid DC superhero adventure with Jaime Reyes’ origin story, and you can now watch the beginning of the film on YouTube.

If you missed Ángel Manuel Soto’s Blue Beetle in theaters, don’t hesitate to give the latest DC Studios film a shot. Exclusively on Warner Bros. Entertainment’s channel check out the first 10 minutes of the stellar action flick starring Cobra Kai’s Xolo Maridueña as Jaime, a role he was born to play. With the support of his close-knit family (including George Lopez as his hilariously wacky techie uncle), Jaime’s journey to becoming the Blue Beetle is filled with heart and endearing characters.

Here’s the film’s opening, which also introduces Susan Sarandon as antagonist Victoria Kord and Harvey Guillén as her minion as she schemes to attain the power of the Beetle.

Blue Beetle | Extended Preview | Warner Bros. Entertainment

If the extended preview makes you want to check out the full film, here are the special features on the Blue Beetle “Premium Digital Ownership” release, as well as the upcoming 4K UHD and Blu-ray releases:

  • “Generations: Blue Beetle” – Four-part documentary told in distinct chapters exploring the journeys of actors and filmmakers bringing Blue Beetle to the big screen for the first time ever. Audiences will be immersed in the POV of filmmakers who showcase their experiences on set and in their creative studios making the story of this DC character a reality.
  • “Nana Knows Best” featurette: Witness Nana’s transformation from an adorable abuelita into a machine gun-wielding revolutionary, and stop in for a few of her most fun moments on set throughout production.
  • “Scarab Vision” two-part featurette: Xolo Maridueña hosts this series of scene study walk throughs that showcases how the scarab works and the role it plays in some of Blue Beetle’s most epic moments.

Watch Blue Beetle now digitally at home via PVOD platforms. It will also be available to purchase on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD October 31.

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The Best Episode of Lower Decks Season 4 Yet Defies All Your Expectations @ io9

Image: Paramount

The last time Lower Decks truly surprised me was in season two’s remarkable tri-perspective episode “wej Duj,” a compelling experimental story that examined the plights of lower deckers across all sorts of Star Trek vessels, not just Starfleet. It’s fitting then perhaps that in surprising me this week, it does so by making that episode’s breakout star the focus.

It only took all of season three, but when former Vulcan High Command officer, now turned fellow Starfleet Lieutenant (Junior Grade) T’Lyn, joined the main cast on this season of Lower Decks, it provided a great breath of fresh air for the main cast. So far in season four, she’s largely acted as a straight-laced foil to our already familiar heroes, effortlessly sliding into the cast and bouncing off them in some interesting ways. But this week’s episode, “Empathological Fallacies,” puts T’Lyn in the spotlight for an episode about defying the expectations put upon yourself—and in doing so, Lower Decks arguably lands one of the best, if not its best, episodes since “wej Duj.”

Image: Paramount

“Fallacies” splits this message across three plots. In the primary, the Cerritos plays begrudging host to a trio of older Betazoid women, making their way to the planet Risa for a girl’s trip that even the iconic Lwaxana Troi would envy. At first, this plays like a riff on Deanna’s legendary mother and her appearances in Next Generation and DS9—if one Lwaxana was too much, what about three at once! Those parallels only become clearer when the Cerritos crew finds its emotional inhibitions out of whack, assuming that the party-crazy Betazed dames are responsible with a case of the telepathic syndrome Zanthi fever, evoking Lwaxana’s touching appearance in the DS9 episode “Fascination.” That dovetails nicely into the second plot, where T’Lyn’s focus comes in, where it’s up to her and Mariner to solve the problem of the crew getting emotionally turned upside down, on the assumption that Vulcan logic and reason will be able to triumph over all this emotional chaos. And then, beneath all that, Boimler finds himself assigned with Shax and the security crew for a shift and is begrudgingly forced to go through the team’s bonding rituals—from slam poetry night to Enterprise puzzle parties—instead of the gung-ho action and brute force he expected of Shax and his team.

All these are set up to play on established Trek tropes and with the audience’s assumptions. Who else could be causing the emotional turmoil aboard the Cerritos than these goofy, party-mad Betazoid women, isn’t that what they’re all like? Who else can stop them other than the cold Vulcan logic T’Lyn embodies as the season’s straight-woman, isn’t that what they’re all like? Shouldn’t Boimler be running phaser drills with security squad meatheads, isn’t that what they’re all like?

Image: Paramount

“Empathological Fallacies” tees up all these expectations and then masterfully defies them all in one fell swoop, tying the three arcs together as T’Lyn—delightfully paired with Mariner here, but letting Mariner play into her rarely-leveraged supportive strengths, instead of being the absorber of Main Character Energy—cracks what’s actually going on. Admittedly Boimler’s arc, given that it’s the C-plot of a pretty packed episode, is the most surface level of all these—although Shax’s belief that Starfleet Security isn’t just about policing martial safety, but safeguarding the crew’s emotional safety as well, is a nice twist on the expectations of the division. But “Fallacies” excels in tying T’Lyn’s story and the Betazed’s story together with one simple, perfect twist: the Betazoids don’t have Zanthi Fever, and they’re not wild sex-mad party goers. Instead, they’re undercover operatives for Betazed Intelligence, tasked with investigating the mysterious ship attacks that have served as this season’s overarching thread. The source of the emotional distress is T’Lyn herself, whose vast Vulcan mental abilities are grappling with the early onset of the neurological disease Bendii Syndrome—and amplified by her own emotional struggle deciding whether or not she wants to keep trying to return to Vulcan High Command or stay and begin exploring the person she’s growing into in Starfleet.

It’s a fantastic twist, not just for the defying of our expectations, but the mutiple layers it has—invoking Bendii is of course a great callback to Sarek, Spock’s father, having the disease in TNG’s “Sarek,” and the mayhem it caused there. it’s also a great rejoinder to the episode’s wider theme about not making assumptions of people and the expectations put upon them, but by coming to better understanding through connection and honesty—whether it’s Captain Freeman and the Betazoids, or Mariner and T’Lyn, or even T’Lyn and herself and where she sees her place in the galaxy right now.

Image: Paramount

But it also gives T’Lyn her own story moment beyond simply being the logical foil to our zany heroes. It humanizes her in a way that gives her a touching connection to Mariner when she opens up about her self-doubts and worries, and to the audience themselves, as we finally get to see her stretch her wings and see what she can contribute to Lower Decks. And what that is, are stories just as compelling and interesting as any of the ones experiences by our four primary stars over the last four seasons.

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Patrick Stewart Wanted to Make Star Trek: Picard on His Own Terms @ io9

Image: Paramount

Star Trek: Picard ended earlier this year, and though the series could be messy at times, leading man Patrick Stewart always made it work. While the future of Jean-Luc and other Next Generation cast members is still up in the air after the show wrapped its three-season run, Stewart’s now reminiscing on how the show came to be, and what brought him back in the first place.

In a look back on the series, penned by Stewart in an excerpt from his upcoming memoir in Time Magazine, he reveals that he wasn’t interested in doing a Next Generation sequel at first, even as he agreed in 2018 to meet with Star Trek TV heads Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman. What he originally planned as a “polite” turning down of their proposal piqued his interest when they—along with Star Trek novelist Kirsten Beyer and The Closer co-creator James Duff—started to probe him on Picard’s emotional state post-Star Trek: Nemesis. “Had he retired?” Stewart recalled. “Did he still have his château in France? Did he have a wife or partner? [...] He was an older man now—was aging changing him, as, perhaps, it was changing me?”

The subsequent 10-page memo got Stewart on board, as did bringing on novelist Michael Chabon (writer of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which he “loved”). But he had his own set of rules for what would become of Star Trek: Picard. The Next Generation crew could return as guests, but it “would not be based on a reunion”; Picard himself wouldn’t still be in Starfleet or wear “any kind of uniform or badges”; and the show itself would only run three seasons specifically.

Stewart’s look back on Picard is illuminating as he reflects on how he approached playing the character at an older age, particularly in regards to his voice. At the same time, he admits that producers “wore him down” on rules he’d previously been firm on: the show eventually did become a Next Generation reunion throughout its time on the air. But by that point, he’d been more open to the idea and enjoyed working with his old friends—and as an executive producer on season three, he got to help dictate how the reunion could take place.

“I told [showrunner] Terry Matalas... let’s trickle them back in,” Stewart continued. He wanted to ensure each of the returning Next Generation characters “came into the picture because [they] had a specific contribution to make and it wasn’t just sentimental window dressing. If Jean-Luc had changed so much over the years, so, too, surely, had the other members of the Enterprise crew. The writers, bless them, took this to heart.”

Getting back into the Star Trek swing of things was such a joy for Stewart that he’s “gently pushing” Paramount to get a Picard movie off the ground. “Not a Next Generation movie,” he clarified. “This would be an expansion and deepening of the universe as we’ve seen it in Star Trek: Picard. I’ve discussed this with Jonathan, Brent, and LeVar, and they are all game. Jonathan is my first choice to direct it.”

At time of writing, Paramount hasn’t provided a comment on Stewart’s claims. Until then, you can watch Star Trek: Picard’s three seasons over on Paramount+. Stewart’s memoir, Making It So, releases October 3.

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Attention S-Mart Shoppers: All 3 Seasons of Ash vs. Evil Dead Are Coming to Hulu @ io9

Ashy Slashy forever!Image: Starz

In a year that already saw a rather entertaining Evil Dead universe entry in the form of Evil Dead Rise, there’s more good news for fans of the Sam Raimi-created cult horror classic: all three seasons of the late, great Starz series Ash vs. Evil Dead are coming to Hulu October 1.

In a perfect world, Ash vs. Evil Dead’s elevation to such a prominent streaming platform will mean a sudden, undeniable, insatiable demand for more seasons of the show, which brought Bruce Campbell back as Ash Williams, the central character in Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness. That’s probably unrealistic, given Campbell’s declaration that he’s through playing the chainsaw-slinging character—but that’s been walked back a bit more recently by both Campbell and Raimi, and hey, we can hope, right?

For more than two decades, fans longed for a fourth Evil Dead film, and while Fede Álvarez’s 2013 reboot did feature a split-second Campbell cameo, it wasn’t really a continuation of Ash’s story, instead introducing a new set of characters who make bad decisions while vacationing at an isolated cabin in the woods. Ash vs. Evil Dead, which premiered in 2015 and ran for three seasons, more than filled that void, giving us an aging-not-so-gracefully Ash who’s been vigorously trying to forget his past as a warrior against the supernatural—until the day comes that he’s unable to deny his destiny, with the help of sidekicks like Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) and Pablo (Ray Santiago), and an antagonist-turned-ally played by Campbell’s Xena: Warrior Princess pal Lucy Lawless.

The show also introduced Ash’s dad (played by, in a brilliant bit of casting, veteran actor Lee Majors) and Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill), the daughter Ash didn’t even know he had. And it was filled with some of the most delightfully gruesome battle scenes that elevated Evil Dead’s trademark horror comedy to new, memorably visceral levels.

Image: Starz

Ash vs. Evil Dead, the complete series, arrives October 1 on Hulu. Watch it, love it, watch it again, and maybe our collective devotion will help miraculously revive it like one of those pesky Deadites.

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James Cameron Almost Died While Making The Abyss @ io9

James Cameron at Beyond Fest’s screening of The Abyss.Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

Whether it’s sinking the Titanic, inventing new technology to make Avatar, or making VFX history with Terminator 2, filmmaking is never easy for James Cameron. Almost every film he makes raises the bar in some way, usually with wildly successful results. And yet, when that happens no one making the movie is ever really in danger—except for Cameron himself on his third film, The Abyss, which at the time was his most ambitious.

Cameron appeared at Beyond Fest in Los Angeles, CA Wednesday after a screening of The Abyss: Special Edition and spoke about how the film set a new standard for underwater filmmaking. Actors did intense dive training before filming so they’d be able to act underwater, and each actor was assigned a safety diver to watch them while they were performing. But, Cameron explained, there weren’t divers watching him and it almost killed the man destined to become one of our most prolific and successful directors.

“Yeah, it was a close one,” Cameron said. “Because we were working 30 feet down. For me to be able to move the camera around on the bottom I wore heavy weights around my feet, no fins, a heavy weight belt around my waist ... and when the tank gets low, you get a few hard drops—you’ve got a little bit of a warning that you’re about to run out of air. Well, this thing had a piston servo regulator in it, so it was one breath… and then nothing. Nothing. And I’m in a helmet, heavily weighted, standing on the bottom at 33 feet [deep] in the dark.”

“Everybody’s setting lights and Mary Elizabeth [Mastrantonio] was watching me. I’m trying to get [cinematographer] Al Giddings’ attention on the PA. But Al Giddings had been involved in a diving accident ... and he blew out both eardrums so the guy was deaf as a post, and I’m wasting my last breath of air on an underwater PA system going ‘Al… Al…’ and he’s working away with his back to me. So I’m like ‘Ah fuck.’”

“So I had to bail out, get all of my gear off, and I’m wearing heavy weights, I can’t swim up and I can’t get the weights off because you can’t see anything once you take the helmet off. So I’m kicking to the surface and the safety diver gets to me about 10 feet from the surface and sticks a regulator in my mouth that he didn’t check. It had been banging around the bottom of the tank for three weeks and had a big rip through the center of the diaphragm—so I purged carefully and took a deep breath… of water. And then I purged it again… and I took another deep breath… of water.”

“At that point, it was almost check out time and the safety divers are taught to hold you down so you don’t embolize and let your lungs overexpand going up if you’re holding your breath... but I knew what I was doing. And he wouldn’t let me go, and I had no way to tell him the regulator wasn’t working. So I punched him in the face and swam to the surface. And therefore survived.”

Yup. James Cameron had to punch a fellow crew member in order to save his own life. You can watch him talk about that at this link and this link.

That sure puts a new spin on the difficulties of making the film, but of course it all worked out. Though The Abyss wasn’t a smash hit upon release, grossing only $90 million worldwide, its landmark visual effects scenes guided Cameron, and Hollywood, to take the next step in VFX: the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. And that one was a big hit.

As for The Abyss, the film still absolutely rules, telling an epic, fantastic, stunning story. One that, according to Cameron, may finally make its 4K release soon. “All of the mastering is done and I think it drops pretty soon--a couple of months or something like that,” Cameron said at the event. “There’s a lot of added material that they’re sticking in there, and it will be available on streaming simultaneously. But I didn’t just want to look at the old HD transfer. I wanted to do it right.”

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Doctor Who Is Regenerating Its Behind-the-Scenes Show @ io9

Image: BBC

After reports last year indicated that Russell T. Davies’ plan to pretty much what he did the first time on Doctor Who but, well, again, would include another returning favorite in a behind-the-scenes companion series, the BBC has confirmed that when Doctor Who returns in November, it won’t be alone.

The corporation has now officially unveiled Doctor Who Unleashed, a 30-minute support series for the franchise that will air online through the BBC’s streaming platform, iPlayer, as well as digital channel BBC Three in the UK. The series will go behind-the-scenes on the making of the series with host Steffan Powell, starting with a special look at the making of the trio of special episodes to celebrate Who’s 60th anniversary.

“Over the years, I meet so many people who were inspired to find careers in TV, because of the behind-the-scenes material the BBC would show,” Davies said in a statement released to press. “And now it’s back, in the grand old tradition of Doctor Who Confidential, but in a brand new form, Unleashed! So a whole new generation–and faithful fans of old–can see what the stars and the crew get up to behind the cameras.”

Doctor Who Confidential ran from 2005 through to 2011 as a weekly show taking audiences behind the scenes of the episode that they’d just watched, interviewing cast and crew and highlighting multiple aspects of the production process, from practical and virtual effects, to stunt work, to set, costume, or prop design. Although the spirit of such behind-the-scenes access still lingers in efforts like Disney’s Gallery series, or in short-form online content, such levels of access and insight are largely harder to come by in this day and age, a dwindling era of behind-the-scenes featurettes compared to even this time a decade ago. For Doctor Who fans, Confidential represented an unprecedented level of access to insight on making the show audiences were watching on an immediate, weekly basis—an inspirationally technical examination of how the adventures fans had just watched were really brought to life.

Doctor Who Unleashed will begin in November, before returning to accompany Ncuti Gatwa’s debut season as the Doctor in 2024.

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Castlevania: Nocturne Is a Slick, Smart Successor @ io9

Image: Netflix

The Castlevania video game series has always been about the legacy of its heroes and vampiric villains—a battle between good and evil that plays out across generations of slayers as they battle the returning evil of Dracula and his allies. After a few years away from Netflix, Powerhouse’s animated adaptation is taking that idea to heart for a fresh revival.

Castlevania: Nocturne, which begins streaming today, is a fresh start for the series after a four-season run that concluded in 2021. There’s a new setting and time period—revolutionary France, rather than 15th century Romania; a new cast of heroes—led by Rondo of Blood’s Richter Belmont (Edward Bluemel), a distant descendant of the original show’s Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades; and new foes to face—like the mysterious ascendant “Vampire Messiah,” Erzsebet Báthory (Franke Potente) and her agents. But for all the surface-level newness this premise brings, Nocturne still has all the things that made the original Castlevania adaptation a hit across its eight episodes: brutal, bloody action; compelling, charming characters; and a keen love of the source material that knows just when to geek out and when to twist expectations and do its own thing with the decades of worldbuilding Konami’s iconic action series is built on.

Image: Netflix

What Nocturne brings to the table to hone all these points to a sharp, effective whip-crack is a welcome focus in its fresh perspective. Unburdened by the story and character arcs that had been built up across the original show’s four seasons—occasionally, to the point of frustration, laboriously so—Nocturne is an effective reset of what Castlevania as an adaptation is, pulling back from the high cosmic horror and theological threats it regularly tussled with in its back half to a much simpler premise. It’s the height of the French Revolution and vampires have ganged up with a desperate societal elite to metaphorically and literally drain the common folk dry, two desperate groups diminished in the face of popular revolt. The bad guys are literal bloodsuckers, the themes and backdrop of the revolution reinforce that, and Richter and his young impulsive friends are here to kick supernatural ass and fight the system along the way.

That’s not to say that Nocturne is necessarily a more simplistic series than its predecessor, it’s more that it’s leaner. The purple prose and indulgent pontification that defined the writing of the prior series—which was penned by now-controversial scribe Warren Ellis, replaced here with new lead writer and showrunner Clive Bradley—gives way to cleaner, snappier, but still emotionally deep character work, that makes the moments the series does dive into more nuanced subjects, leveraging its setting in revolutionary France as well as the wider time period to dive into broader issues of trauma and injustice, all the more resonant and personable. Things feel more grounded in the emotional arcs of Nocturne’s focal characters on both sides of the conflict—even if these characters are a mix of monsters, vampires, and their magically enhanced hunters. The series embraces its place in a specific, historical setting compared to the vague late-medieval backdrop of its predecessor, to root its heightened supernatural struggles in something tangible.

Image: Netflix

This kind of measured approach is also effectively leveraged when Nocturne begins to embrace its generational story, connecting itself to the wider Castlevania story in smart ways. The perspective of its heroes offers a crucial, compelling framing device for this exploration. Richter, his almost adoptive-sister figure Maria Renard (Pixie Davies), and their eventual hunter allies Annette (Thuso Mbedu, who shines in a standout episode exploring her character’s backstory that elevates her far beyond her status as Richter’s love interest in the games) and Edouard (Sydney James Harcourt) are all significantly younger than Trevor and Sypha were, and with that youth bring an energy to Nocturne that amplifies its fresh tone.

They’re idealist and impulsive, brash and yet curious to learn, and they all grow and develop from their failings across the season in ways Trevor’s charmingly cynical, world-weary persona couldn’t tap into in his own journey. And as Nocturne reaches its climax and begins to tie in threads to its predecessor, it does so to examine and strengthen its own characters’ part in that vast legacy—especially Richter’s, as he tackles the traumas of his childhood—rather than to simply check off Easter egg nods and references. Nocturne is an effective onboarding place for people eager to see what Powerhouse’s work on Castlevania is all about, but long term fans of both the games and the prior animated series will be rewarded with a loving, nuance embrace of Castlevania’s generational struggles.

Image: Netflix

It’s this smart exploration of these themes, and its new setting, that make Nocturne a more than worthy successor to the original Castlevania series. A clever reset on its world and story brings a focus and nuance that lets Nocturne really drill in on keeping what made the original show such a surprise hit in the first place, while winnowing away a lot of the frustrations and bloat that had started to drag the series down beyond its visceral, sumptuous action by the time of its conclusion. In doing so, the stage is set to leave you hungry for much more of this version of Castlevania’s world and these characters in the future—and the promise that, wherever Castlevania could eventually go beyond Nocturne, the series already keenly understands how to embrace its place in a larger, grander bloodline.

Castlevania: Nocturne is now streaming on Netflix.

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Fright Crewe Exclusive Clip Presents the Gateway Horrors of Growing Pains @ io9

Image: Peacock

A group of kids join forces to uncover the lore of New Orleans through spooky supernatural adventures in Eli Roth’s Fright Crewe.

Each generation has a team of young heroes rise up to take on the threat of evil in its many forms: the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine meddling kids, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer gang (also called the Scoobies), and now the Fright Crewe. Coming October 2 on Peacock and Hulu, Roth’s latest horror series follows a group of youths in haunted New Orleans who uncover an ancient prophecy and are tasked by a voodoo queen to save their city from the biggest demonic threat it’s faced in almost two centuries.

io9 has an exclusive scene below from Fright Crewe that shows how teaming up doesn’t come so easy within a newfound friend group—and that no one is safe from the growing pains of adolescence or teenage monster-hood.


The show, created by Roth and James Frey, has Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous’ Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco as showrunners; it will run for 10 episodes of monster fun exploring the mythology and lore of New Orleans. The cast of kids includes Sydney Mikayla as Soleil, Tim Johnson Jr. as Maybe, Grace Lu as Missy, Chester Rushing as Stanley, Terrence Little Gardenhigh as Pat, and Jacques Colimon as Belial.

Image: Peacock

Fright Crewe streams on Peacock and Hulu starting October 2.

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Our Flag Means Death Lets Its Fandom Freak Flag Fly @ io9

Image: Max | Nicola Dove

Few shows have enjoyed the kind of immediate, deeply invested fanbase that Our Flag Means Death garnered in 2022. This silly, tender, queer pirate show reimagined the legends of notorious pirates Blackbeard (Taika Waititi) and Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) in an anachronistic Caribbean. David Jenkins, the beloved director and creator of the show, wrote a love story where these two anti-heroes connect over bloodshed, fancy parties, and wanting to change who they are… and hoping maybe the other person will change with them.

Season 2 realizes that when people fall in love with their preconceptions of who you are, that relationship isn’t going to last very long. The season starts with Ed and Stede broken up, on different boats, and either struggling to get back to each other or just struggling. Almost the entire crew is back on either one boat or the other, and we get an introduction to a couple new characters–Pirate Queen Zheng Yi Sao (Ruibo Qian) absolutely owns seas whenever she shows up, and Vico Ortiz’s Jim Jiminez gets (another) love interest.

Image: Max | Nicola Dove

The second season starts by showing us our two heroes at their lowest. Stede, alone, broke, and absolutely obsessed with getting back to Ed, and Blackbeard snorting coke, drinking heavily, and destroying the only stable relationship he has left–the one between him and his first mate Izzy Hands (Con O’Neill). From the very beginning, this season seems to play to its greatest strength: the fans.

Every episode there was something that made me–an ardent fan of the series–scream aloud. And I need to clarify here: I am a fan. I am involved in fandom. I have written fic, I’ve tracked down the art, I trade theories with friends, I’ve made an effort to learn more about the ins and outs of the show and the community that surrounds it because this is what contemporary fandom does, and I am in it. When I say that this show was built from the keel up for the fans, I mean it. Practically every episode of the new season has moments and character climaxes, payoff for references fandom obsessed over in the first season, and more laser-targeted to make Our Flag Means Death’s vociferously online fanbase scream with delight (and perhaps occasionally agony, in equal measure. This season of the show is for the fans, and it is not trying to hide it.

For the rest of the folks who are tuning in, the casual fans, the non-fandom OFMD enjoyers, the show is absolutely a step up from season one. I loved season one, but even I’ll admit that its strength was in the grace that it handled its subject matter and the fantastic comedic timing of its actors. Season two is more adventure, more drama, and uses its fully realized characters to really push the themes along. The plot still doesn’t matter much; this is primarily a story about Ed and Stede, and the people swept up in their romance. Still, season two takes the plot more seriously, bringing in two antagonistic forces (although whether or not they’re enemies, per se, is up for debate) in the Pirate Queen Zheng Yi Sao and Prince Richard (Errol Shand) to push Ed and Stede along.

Image: Max | Nicola Dove

It gives us what is ultimately a more realized world, with deeper character explorations, and a re-focus on the relationships that the series centers on. Izzy Hands becomes a stronger presence, and while he remains the constant punching bag for Ed and the rest of the crew, this time he gets in a few good hits himself. His B-Plot this season is really what ties the season together in a cohesive way, acting as a bridge between Ed and Stede as they fail to communicate in ways that the other can understand.

While season one might have been an exploration of what sorts of love can grow between two people when you meet the right person at the right time, season two brings us crashing back to earth, again. Amid incredible needle drops (Kate Bush gets the post-Stranger Things nod she deserves), it slowly becomes apparent that who Ed wants to be and who Stede wants to be are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Stede, landed gentry turned pirate, and Ed, fearsome pirate trying to contemplate retirement, are maybe not the kind of people who can survive being together. Season two asks if you’re willing to have your heart broken, if you’re willing to try.

Our Flag Means Death episodes will release weekly on HBO Max, starting October 5.

This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the show being covered here wouldn’t exist.

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Wild New Rumors About the Future of James Bond @ io9

Image: MGM

Four more Exorcist: Believer clips tease a returning nightmare. Wolf Like Me season 2's new trailer shows troubled times ahead for the werewolf romance. he cast of The Boys welcomes the cast of Gen V in a new featurette. Plus, what’s coming on Star Trek: Lower Decks. Spoilers now!

Bond 26 & 27

According to a rumor from World of Reel, Christopher Nolan is allegedly in talks to write and direct the next two James Bond movies for EON. The outlet notes the company’s plan is to present a “full reboot” of the franchise, adapting remakes of the Ian Fleming novels in period settings sticking “close to the original source material.”

Dream Scenario

According to Blood-Disgusting, Nicolas Cage’s Dream Scenario has been rated “R” for “language, violence and some sexual content.”

Leave the World Behind

Vanity Fair has our first looks at Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke and Mahershala Ali in Leave the World Behind, the upcoming post-apocalyptic thriller from Sam Esmail. Head over there to see the rest.

Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix

The Exorcist: Believer

Elsewhere, Bloody-Disgusting also has four new clips from The Exorcist: Believer.

THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER | CLIP “Victor Shows Chris MacNeil a Picture of His Daughter” HD
THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER | CLIP “Chris MacNeil Sees Angela in the Hospital” HD
THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER | CLIP “Angela Attacks Victor in Their House” HD
THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER | CLIP “The Body and the Blood” HD

Frankenstein: Legacy

The director of Fear the Invisible Man returns with Frankenstein Legacy, starring Philip Martin Brown, Juliet Aubrey, Michelle Ryan, Matt Barber, Katie Sheridan, Charles Dale, Marc Danbury, Alexandra Afryea, and Paul Mohan.

Frankenstein: Legacy - Theatrical trailer

Sister Death

A nun with supernatural powers begins teaching at a haunted girl’s school in the trailer for Sister Death, premiering October 27 on Netflix.

Sister Death | Official Trailer | Netflix

American Horror Story: Delicate

Anna’s paranoia reaches a crescendo in the synopsis for “Preech,” the fifth episode of American Horror Story: Delicate.

Anna senses the dark presence closing in on her, closer than ever. Ms. Preecher reveals pieces of her past and may know the truth about what’s happening to Anna and Dex. Written by Halley Feiffer; directed by John J. Gray.

[Spoiler TV]

Star Trek: Lower Decks

Spoiler TV has photos from “Empathological Fallacies,” today’s new episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks. More at the link.

Photo: Paramount+
Photo: Paramount+
Photo: Paramount+

The Curse

Emma Stone and Nathan Fielder must combat “dark magical forces while filming their home renovation show on the HGTV network” in the trailer for The Curse, premiering November 10 on Paramount+.

Wolf Like Me

Mary and Gary have a werewolf baby in the trailer for the second season of Wolf Like Me.

Wolf Like Me | Season 2 | Official Trailer | Peacock Original

Gen V

The cast of The Boys welcomes the cast of Gen V in a new featurette.

GEN V - A Welcome From The Boys Cast | Prime Video

Sonic Prime

Finally, Sonic and friends must save the Shatterverse in the trailer for the third season of Sonic Prime.

Sonic Prime | First Look | DROP 01 | Netflix After School

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Evil Genius Sues Netflix Over Canceled Rebel Moon TTRPG @ io9

Image: Netflix | Clay Enos

Today, tabletop roleplaying game publisher Evil Genius filed a lawsuit against Netflix for Breach of Contract. Evil Genius was hired to create a franchise TTRPG for Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon, and alleges that after working alongside Netflix and Snyder, Netflix unceremoniously terminated its contract.

The lawsuit details the amount of work that Evil Genius did for Netflix, which included three books in support of a planned Rebel Moon TTRPG. Evil Genius is one of the few tabletop game design companies that has raised money via venture capitalist funding, and has established itself as a well-known franchisee TTRPG company.

Snyder praised the TTRPG adaptation of his upcoming sci-fi movie series six months ago on the Nerd Queens stream. Snyder, said that he was having “a really good time” with the RPG, and the development was at a “ridiculous scale.” He also describes the TTRPG that Evil Genius was working on at the time as “immersive,” and “intense.” According to David Scott, the founder and design team lead at Evil Genius, who spoke to io9 via email, Snyder was in frequent contact with the design team and there were “daily interactions” with members of Snyder’s team.

At the time of the alleged breach of contract, in May of 2023, the complaint asserts that the TTRPG was nearly done, and the two sellable products–a 430-page Player’s Guide and a 337-page Game Master’s Guide–were in the final editing stages. There was also a massive internal document produced: a Rebel Moon “World Bible,” detailing original details about the setting and characters of Rebel Moon which was being used as a reference for Evil Genius during the development of the TTRPG.

Because Netflix wanted to release the TTRPG just before the release of the film in December, Evil Genius alleges that it lost opportunities due to prioritizing the Rebel Moon project. Evil Genius is well-known for its franchise games, including officially licensed TTRPGs for Rambo, Kong, The Crow, and Escape From New York, all using Evil Genius’ Everyday Heroes system.

Netflix terminated the agreement with Evil Genius based on the claim that Evil Genius breached confidentiality provisions. There are two instances where the breach could have occurred. According to the complaint, the first instance occured when Evil Genius Games—alongside two Netflix employees—distributed images during a February trade show as part of a retailer buzz campaign. The second time was when Evil Genius Games uploaded two non-final, teaser cover images onto the back end of its site for the purposes of retailer pre-order, and through administrative error, accidentally made the portal accessible to the public. These two non-final images were uploaded to social media in May, and it was after this that Netflix terminated its agreement with Evil Genius Games.

Then, according to the complaint, in June, Netflix sent another message to Evil Genius saying that the World Bible, which includes significant chunks of worldbuilding and development that greatly expands the Rebel Moon universe far beyond the script, “belongs solely and exclusively to Netflix.” Netflix allegedly offered Evil Genius $50,000 for this property, but an agreement was not met. Evil Genius wants to release the game and receive compensation for its work.

Scott clarified via email that the proffered money “ would not cover the expenses incurred developing this game,” and that Evil Genius had been confident that it would have sold “millions of dollars worth of game products.” Additionally, the work it did on the internal World Bible exceeded the scope of the license, and the money offered “would not accurately compensate us for the contribution we made to the Rebel Moon universe.”

“Our aim is to ensure our team is recognized for their fantastic work, and that we can release this game for millions of TTRPG enthusiasts to enjoy,’’ Scott said via press release. “It’s disheartening to see Netflix backpedal on content that was jointly showcased and had received their prior consent. We urge our supporters to contact Netflix and Zack Snyder to push for the release of this game.’’

There’s another twist to this story. According to the complaint, “Mr. Snyder (and multiple Netflix executives) routinely praised the [Evil Genius’] work and was so enamored with the 228-page World Bible that he indicated that he planned on incorporating substantial elements of it into his so-called ‘Snyderverse’.” Rebel Moon is already greenlit for a sequel, Scargiver, and even more recently, Zack Snyder went on stage at Gamescon and announced that a co-op video game within the Rebel Moon universe would be developed by Super Evil Megacorp, and released exclusively on Netflix’s games streaming service.

io9 has reached out to Netflix for comment on the suit, and will update this story if we hear more.

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1973 – The Sting @ Bureau 42

Riddle of Fire Puts a Fantasy Spin on a 1980s Kids Adventure Movie @ io9

The paintball gun-shooting stars of Riddle of Fire.Image: Anaxia

Recovering a password has never been as elaborate or entertaining as it is in Riddle of Fire, which had its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest 2023 this week. In the film, a trio of badass kids steal a yet-to-be-released video game console, get it home, but run into a problem. Mom has password-protected the TV. All they need to do for Mom to give up the password is go buy a blueberry pie.

Written and directed by Weston Razooli, Riddle of Fire has a very harmless, childlike setup, but it’s much more than that. The first clue comes before the titles as a young girl delivers a poem, setting the stage for an epic tale of fantasy adventure. The second is when the three kids in question show up riding dirt bikes, wearing ski masks, and carrying paintball guns. And third is that, when the bakery is out of blueberry pie, the adventure takes a whole new twist.

Though the film’s brand of kid adventure feels like an homage to films like The Goonies, Stand by Me, and The Monster Squad, Razooli is speaking a whole different language than those movies. These kids are ruthless, smart, and sometimes need their words to be subtitled. There’s Alice (Phoebe Ferro), the de facto leader of the group, bravest and quickest on her feet. There’s Hazel (Charlie Stover), a fast-talking crack shot with a soft spot for Alice. Then there’s Jodie (Skyler Peters), Hazel’s little brother, who has the most eloquent things to say, even if you can’t always understand them. Together, the trio form a gang that feels somehow completely out of another era, despite their use of modern technology.

As the gang continues their quest for the pie, they meet an evil group of poachers led by Anna-Freya (Lio Tipton). Anna has some sort of weird, otherworldly control over her group, as does her defiant daughter Petal (Lorelei Olivia Mote). Soon, Petal teams up with Alice, Hazel, and Jodie to complete their quest, adding a whole new, supernatural element to the already fantastical feeling story.

Not everything about Riddle of Fire fits. There are several awkward edits and asides, more than a few uncomfortable situations, and the fantasy poems and Arthurian allusions often feel a little forced. Nevertheless, it’s all so damned endearing, you can’t help but adore it. Very quickly you latch onto these kids and their pure, unfaltering desire to play video games, and you just go along for the ride. Things often reach ridiculous levels of borderline parody but Razooli, who co-stars as a member of the poacher gang, makes sure that you just keep cheering for these kids.

And cheer you will because the thing Riddle of Fire does best is capture the innocence and freedom of childhood. A time when everything was an adventure, nothing could ever go wrong, and your friends were everything. It makes you feel like a child yourself and is simply a blast to watch.

Riddle of Fire had its world premiere last month at the Cannes Film Festival before having its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest 2023. It’ll be released in early 2024.

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Castlevania: Nocturne's Opening Explores the Bloody Belmont Legacy @ io9

Screenshot: Netflix

Netflix’s new Castlevania show, Nocturne, is set hundreds of years after the events of the original series, with a long-line descendant of heroes Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades, Richter, headlining the cast. What better way to connect the Belmont Clan bloodline across shows than immediately giving the poor young lad tragedy, violence, and monsters to deal with?

That’s the case in the seven-minute cold open to Nocturne, which Netflix released today as part of its animation-focused “Drop” event, celebrating tomorrow’s debut of the new series. The opening introduces us to 18th century Boston, where young Richter lives with his mother Julia Belmont... at least, not for long, when an encounter with an old vampiric grudge sees Richter’s life spiral into a mess of blood and tragedy.

Castlevania: Nocturne | First 7 Minutes | Netflix

Nothing says “distantly related to Noted Sad Vampire Hunter Trevor Belmont” quite like watching your mom’s own hunting legacy cut tragically short by a shapeshifting vampiric monster, alas. But this is a great set up for Zahn McClarnon’s mysterious villain Olrox, who’s effectively chilling in not just his electrifying battle with Julia, but his menacing soliloquy to the young Richter about his revenge quest.

It’s a neat set up for the show at large, and immediately makes Castlevania’s long list of Belmont Clan descendants feel tangibly personal in the process—a smart way to show just what ties the two shows together thematically, even it means a whole lotta trauma for our newest little boy Belmont.

Richter’s journey continues tomorrow, September 28, when Castlevania: Nocturne begins streaming on Netflix.

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Concrete Utopia Takes the Disaster Movie in a Whole New Direction @ io9

The residents of Concrete Utopia. Image: Fantastic Fest

Most modern disaster movies are rather cheesy—big, special effects spectacles that are an excuse to showcase lots of destruction and action. Concrete Utopia, a South Korean disaster movie, has some of that, but really focuses more on what comes in the immediate aftermath. First, the film grabs your attention with a massive earthquake leveling Seoul. Everything is destroyed as far as the eye can see... except for one single apartment building right in the middle.

It’s a premise that could, at that point, go any number of ways. It could be The Raid. It could be Assault on Precent 13. It could be Independence Day. but filmmaker Um Tae-hwa decides to go totally real with it. Sure, there’s action and violence along the way, but the main focus is the human decisions made by the residents of this building. Do they let more people in? Who deserves to be there? And all along the way, you can’t help but ponder what you would do in this situation.

The main characters, though there are many, are Min-seong (Park Seo-joon) and Myeong-hwa (Park Bo-young), a husband and wife who, almost without warning, find themselves in prominent places in the hierarchy of the building. He runs security, she helps with health, and all of it is controlled by Yeong-tak (Lee Byung-hun), a headstrong man who arrives under less than clear circumstances.

At first residents of the building let in other survivors, trying to be as accepting as possible. However, as resources dwindle, those sentiments quickly change and instead, a more militaristic rule is followed. Things seem fine for a while until the violence starts. And the lying. And in each and every scene, you aren’t quite sure what each character is going to do.

It’s all riveting though, especially as we see the characters start to change and mysteries get solved. There’s also fantastic world-building taking place in the story, as the residents go on supply runs and see how everyone else in Seoul is living.

What kept occurring to me in Concrete Utopia is that we never see the government. We never see any soldiers. There are no clear-cut heroes or villains. It’s just completely slice of life and matter of fact about this impossible-to-fathom, devastating situation. Surely there are people out in this world trying to figure out the bigger picture stuff but Concrete Utopia is all about the smaller picture. It challenges us, not anyone else.

The result is a film that’s intense and powerful, but without ever losing its propulsive entertainment value. We consider our own morality as the characters shatter or solidify theirs, and in the end, you just want to spend more time in this world. Which is kind of wild. In disaster movies, normally you just want to see everyone get back to normal. In Concrete Utopia, you just want to watch how it all gets figured out.

Concrete Utopia played Fantastic Fest 2023 this week and is the South Korean entry for Best International Feature for the upcoming Academy Awards. It’ll be released in the U.S. later this fall.

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Dan Harmon Dishes on Justin Roiland and Rick and Morty's New Voices @ io9

Morty and Rick, back in action in the season seven trailer.Screenshot: Adult Swim/YouTube

The much-anticipated seventh season of Rick and Morty arrives in just a few weeks; a few days ago, we got a trailer revealing the show’s new “soundalike” voices for its lead characters after Justin Roiland’s departure. It’s been a weird ride for Rick and Morty fans—and now, in a new interview, Roiland’s co-creator Dan Harmon has shared his take on the situation.

In an extensive profile by the Hollywood Reporter, we finally get a good explanation as to why we don’t yet know the names behind the voices replacing Roiland: they are “two young, unknown voice actors,” according to the trade, and Harmon wasn’t much involved in the casting, by his choice. “It’s all just sad because the goal is for it to be indistinguishable,” he told THR. “At the same time, it would be absurd to suddenly decide that the entire foundation of your creative project was, oh, coincidentally, unimportant.”

The story digs deep into Harmon’s perspective on the evolving relationship between Roiland and Harmon—how they began working together on Rick and Morty, which premiered a decade ago, and how the collaborative balance between them began to shift as early as the show’s second season, when Harmon brought “Harvard-educated Community writers” aboard the Adult Swim series. That rift continued to grow even as the show’s popularity increased, though there was a brief reconciliation in 2018, when Rick and Morty announced 70 more episodes were on the way.

“It was like Justin and I were in love again,” Harmon recalled, but then told the trade he hasn’t spoken to Roiland since an emotional text exchange in 2019. “He said things that he’d never said before about being unhappy, and I remember saying to him the last time we spoke in person, like, ‘I am worried about you, and I don’t know what to do about that except to give you all the string and also just say I’m scared that you’re not going to come back.’ But then this conversation became unprecedentedly confrontational ... I think that’s as far as I get to take the story. At that point, we’re no longer both there for it, and it starts to become not only unfair for me to continue but totally uncomfortable because, from there, a friendship goes away, and I still don’t fully understand why.”

Head to the Hollywood Reporter to read the whole interview, which includes the brief snippet that “pre-strike, Harmon even had a serious conversation with executives at Warner Bros. about a Rick and Morty feature” styled as “super episode” of sorts, like the South Park movie was.

Rick and Morty returns to Adult Swim October 15.

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Breaking Down What the Writers Guild Won @ io9

Image: Mario Tama / Staff (Getty Images)

After nearly 150 days on strike, the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers have finally reached an agreement. The unit members celebrated across the country, and now the WGA has released a Memorandum of Agreement, as well as some additional documents to inform members what nearly five months of withheld work, union solidarity, and standing up for their value has won them. You can read the full Memorandum here.

First, artificial intelligence. It’s been speculated that this was a key point of control for the AMPTP, which might want to retain AI rights in order to replace writers. This MBA now prevents that, and enacts common-sense AI restrictions that put a lot of power in the hands of the writers on how they want to use AI or have AI used within their projects.

From the summary on the WGA site:

  • AI can’t write or rewrite literary material, and AI-generated material will not be considered source material under the MBA, meaning that AI-generated material can’t be used to undermine a writer’s credit or separated rights.
  • A writer can choose to use AI when performing writing services, if the company consents and provided that the writer follows applicable company policies, but the company can’t require the writer to use AI software (e.g., ChatGPT) when performing writing services.
  • The Company must disclose to the writer if any materials given to the writer have been generated by AI or incorporate AI-generated material.
  • The WGA reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited by MBA or other law.

This last part, where the WGA reserves its right to assert that AI use in any case goes against the MBA or any laws, allows space for the WGA to force the AMPTP back into bargaining or into a courtroom in order to protect the writing of folks within the unit. All of these restrictions are reasonable, and make sure to keep the writers of the WGA the focus, dictating what the company can and can’t ask writers to do.

Second, a lot was made of writers’ rooms, and the new agreement not only guarantees writers’ rooms minimums, but also increases the minimum salary that writers can expect when retained by a show after pre-development, which is an incredible step forward and truly will support the future of writers in the industry. This was an extremely necessary part of the contract, as it helps develop writers and allows everyone to build up a sustainable career.

Additionally, as a way to build up the support within the industry for screenwriting as a career, pensions and health fund contributions were increased. Health care was also extended for the entire unit for the next month, as members lost out on minimum qualifying days due to the strike.

Before this contract writers would often be treated like gig workers: paid very little during pre-development, forced to “break” a season within a week or two, and then told to go off and write scripts on their own, essentially avoiding writers’ room fees and minimum agreements. There are a lot of first-person accounts from writers supporting this on X/Twitter whenever this subject came up.

While the guild was not able to get residuals for streaming, it did get the AMPTP to agree to “viewership-based streaming bonuses” based on streaming numbers during the first 90 days of release. With regards to data transparency, the summary states that the companies will be giving the WGA “the total number of hours streamed, both domestically and internationally, of self-produced high budget streaming programs (e.g., a Netflix original series).” The WGA will be allowed to share this data with the unit in an “aggregated form.”

The unit will now vote whether or not to ratify the new agreement. Overall, the deal the WGA secured appears to be a huge increase for the writers. The WGA’s initial demands would have cost the AMPTP $488 million per year (money it absolutely has). The deal the AMPTP presented in May would have only cost it $86 million per year. The current deal being presented to membership sits at a $233 million. The WGA’s first deal was ambitious, yes, but it got so much of what they wanted that this is fully a success for the union, and will help secure the future of screenwriting and television writing for years.

SAG-AFTRA is still on the picket lines, and the WGA is committed to standing alongside the actors who supported WGA members during the duration of the strike.

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Disney's Jennifer Lee on World of Frozen and Co-Creating a New Heroine in Wish @ io9

Image: Walt Disney Animation

It all starts with a classic “wish upon a star” in Disney’s centennial animated release Wish.

io9 recently sat down with Jennifer Lee, Walt Disney Animation’s Chief Creative Officer—she’s also the writer and co-director of the Frozen films—to discuss her writing on Wish and her excitement for World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland. As Disney fairytale fans, we were especially excited to dig into a movie that’s set to define the origins of Disney lore, centering around Asha (Ariana DeBose), a young woman who hopes to become the apprentice to Magnifico (Chris Pine), the wish-granting ruler of her kingdom. As she gets closer to discovering the malevolent truth about the king’s magic, she makes a wish that brings magical help in the form of a sentient star, setting in motion the mythology of Disney’s first 100 years in animation.

Sabina Graves, io9: I’m already obsessed with Star and Asha. I can’t wait to see more of their magic. What inspired the idea for Wish as you were getting closer to Disney’s centennial, and how did the themes of hope take form in Star and Asha?

Jennifer Lee: It’s interesting because we think about what Disney means to a lot of us. When we would ask, “just say what words come to mind,” [the responses are things like] hope, possibility, joy, fun wonder—you know, all of those ideas [that] help you get through hard times. I think part of why we escape into Disney is because it reconnects with those themes but it does so through storytelling that doesn’t ignore challenges. It’s storytelling that looks at how life can push on you when you don’t feel that powerful and how it gives you clues for how to cope. When we think of those concepts, they’re evocative to us.

But the idea with Asha is when you think about what a wish is—the hopes and wishes and dreams, they’re really about finding a purpose in the world and finding that thing that drives you. And to have a young woman watch her journey as she tries to figure out who she wants to be in this world, connecting to that moment in your life where you look at the world and all of the rose-colored glasses fall away, what we see is incredible generosity—not selfishness. “I want to do better things for this world, for the people of this world, for my family, for my friends.” It’s a moment with incredible opportunity, so when we looked at that and created and got down to that specificity, I knew there was a story. Obviously Star represents that hope and wonder and possibility, but Asha represents the truth of of how we persevere in the world.

io9: I love that dynamic. and how Magnifico comes into the situation as a foil. We love a complex Disney villain, and it seems he has a complicated relationship with Asha. As both are sort of chosen by magic, are there ways in which they align that might surprise audiences?

Lee: In many ways, the villains in the past, what they really informed is that there’s a selfishness or an exploitation of an idea usually for a means to a greater end for them. And those qualities that we talk about in fairytales you’re taught to to triumph over—even in yourself. You know, I think that we talk about those abstractly. But when it got to Magnifico, we also acknowledged that as modern audiences [have] evolved, they want more complex characters. The number one thing we felt kept being asked of us as we talked to folks about the story, even in the studio, was “Why does he do what he does? What motivates him?” They must want to see the human inside the character to navigate it in [a] not so black and white [way], but something more dimensional. And so we go on this journey with Magnifico, where we say, yes, there’s a moment where the protagonist and the villain align, like philosophically people can align, we can find our common ground, but it’s in our actions that we reveal our character. So it’s in our choices we make. When he’s tested and challenged, he makes very different choices from the queen, from Asha, from her friends. And that’s the thing that it was so fun to to look at, but to do in a different way than we’d done before when it came to a villain.

Image: Walt Disney Animation

io9: Yes. And I just love the chemistry that Ariana and Chris have. What made them stand out for these roles?

Lee: With Ariana, she’s so warm and inviting, she’s very compassionate. As a dancer she’s very kinetic and expressive with her whole body and I think stealing that for Asha was great. But also, she said she represents the vulnerability of having a very regular life and then being sort of thrown into a big spotlight. I think that brought a lot to how Asha [is] suddenly going [from] a life that’s on her terms and easy, to a life full of making big choices and [her] actions affect others. Not to mention, her singing voice is incredible and she can do anything. With Chris—I had the chance to [co-write the script for 2018's] A Wrinkle in Time that he did. I knew he brings such depth to every character he works on. And so for Magnifico, who needed to be complex, who you needed to believe his charm, you needed to believe what he believes at certain moments, and that only came from the kind of deep work [Pine] does. He’s also charming and funny and so smart and that came through with Magnifico. He’s very smart and then also can sing. So it’s like, whoa. Another win?

World of Frozen, Hong Kong DisneylandImage: Disney Parks

io9: I want to close things out with a jump into the theme park world. I’m so excited for World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland. Arendelle Kingdom has come to life so quickly—I can’t wait to experience it someday. What has it been like to see this land you imagined in the Frozen films come to life, and what do you hope fans take away from visiting Anna and Elsa’s kingdom?

Lee: Well, I’m heading to Hong Kong in a couple of months for the opening of World of Frozen. I think everywhere and all the parks that have embraced Frozen has been blowing me away. I connect to that part of me as a kid [at heart] to get to feel like you’re walking in Arendelle, that you’re feeling connected to these characters and viscerally. The more we can create for the audience and any fans of of Frozen or Disney, this visceral, personal connection to the worlds—not just the characters, it’s beyond a dream come true. You’ll have to ask me again because I don’t know how I’m going to see anything cause I’ll be crying, but I’ll do my best.

io9: Will do! And congrats on Wish, I can’t wait to see the whole film.

Wish opens November 22.

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Very Short Treks: Holograms All The Way Down @ Bureau 42

Much less gross-out humor this week.

Masters of the Universe: Revolution Announces 2024 Return With Scare Glow's Help @ io9

Chris Wood as He-Man in Masters of the Universe: Revelation: Part 2Image: Netflix

He-Man returns to Netflix next year for more of Kevin Smith’s epic animated series—this time titled Masters of the Universe: Revolution. A new clip featuring terrifying, fiendishly taunting adversary Scare Glow is here to get you pumped for battle.

The first iteration of the series, Masters of the Universe: Revelation, wrapped up in late 2021, and io9 was a fan; our coverage at the time remarked “Smith has made an updated version of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe for adult fans that somehow still feels like it has the DNA of the campy, childish ‘80s cartoon in there.” With a live-action movie no longer in the works at Netflix—though it may find life elsewhere—fans can still get their fill of He-Man and his friends and foes, including our buddy Scare Glow here, when Masters of the Universe: Revolution hits the streamer in 2024.

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Netflix's Tomb Raider Will Show Lara Croft's Journey from Survivor to Legend @ io9

Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix

During its “Drop 01" livestream event, Netflix unveiled the first official look at its Tomb Raider anime, The Legend of Lara Croft. The show was originally announced back in 2021 and marks the first new piece of Tomb Raider media since the 2018 reboot movie starring Alicia Vikander.

Set in the same continuity as Crystal Dynamics’ Survivor trilogy of games—which encompassed the titular 2013 reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider—the series from Castlevania studio Powerhouse Animation stars Haley Atwell as that continuity’s version of Lara Croft. While plot details are currently under wraps, the big thing worth knowing is that Lara appears to be raiding tombs and ends up getting involved in something supernatural that’ll require her to set things right before the world becomes endangered. Like her video game counterpart, this Lara has the only two friends she’s ever truly needed: a pickaxe for climbing and a bow and arrow for silent kills.

Legend of Lara Croft isn’t the only piece of Tomb Raider media in the works. Earlier in the year, Amazon locked in Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge to create a live-action TV show based on the games, and one that’s seemingly separate from this. At the same time, it’s also been reported that her show is meant to kick off a larger Tomb Raider universe that’ll include a new movie, which presently has no director or actor attached. Both the show and the eventual movie are intended to link up with the next entry from Crystal Dynamics, which is going to be published by Amazon Games.

First though, we’ve got Tomb Raider: The Legend of Lara Croft—which is set to hit Netflix sometime in 2024.

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New Scott Pilgrim Takes Off Clip Explains Ramona's Netflix Connection @ io9

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers and Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim in Scott Pilgrim Takes Off. Image: Netflix

When Scott Pilgrim searches for his dream girl—you know, the one who has “hair like this”—he gets some important intel from Julie Powers. The rest of the scene, which you can see below, follows what you might recognize from Edgar Wright’s 2010 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World movie... with a Netflix twist that’s perfect for the streamer’s new anime series.

Yes, that’s Michael Cera, Aubrey Plaza, and Kieran Culkin reprising their voice roles from the movie, something that’s echoed throughout the rest of the cast. You gotta love Scott Pilgrim Takes Off’s adorable embrace of vintage technology, and how it really looks like the show will both stay true to the movie (and the graphic novel both adaptations are drawn from) while tailoring certain details to this new medium.

All eight episodes of Scott Pilgrim Takes Off hit Netflix November 17.

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Ahsoka's Penultimate Episode Left Us Breathless for the Finale @ io9

Ahsoka had some emotions in the seventh episode.Image: Lucasfilm

Thrawn and Ezra have been found. Our heroes have reached—or are on their way to—a new galaxy far, far away. With season one of Ahsoka nearing its end, the penultimate seventh episode started there and moved all the pieces just one or two steps ahead, setting the stage for the finale. The result was a highly entertaining, satisfying episode that was more about action and recalibration than anything else. Plus, it had some very, very good cameos.

Before things could pick up back with Ezra and Sabine on Peridea, or Ahsoka and Huyang traveling there, another main character was forced to deal with their own dire circumstances. It’s Hera Syndulla—who, a few episodes back, was told to come back to Coruscant to deal with a possible court martial for disobeying New Republic orders by going to help Sabine and Ahsoka.

Standing in front of a very official-looking committee, wearing a brand new outfit, Hera is being lashed out at by Senator Xiono. Earlier this season, he was the guy who was already resistant to Hera leaving, and now it seems he’s using her ambition against her. Xiono seems adamant (too adamant?) that Hera is pushing a false narrative about a new version of the Empire rising and believes there should be consequences. Carson Teva interjects, pointing out that the recent conflict on Mandalore is a strong indication to the contrary, but Xiono quickly says Moff Gideon was acting on his own without any help.

Let’s just dive into that for a second. First, that statement firmly places Ahsoka’s events after the events of season three of The Mandalorian, which may become important. And second, season three of The Mandalorian clearly showed Gideon working with a shadow council who are trying to bring the Empire back under Thrawn. So while there’s no proof of any of that for Senator Xiono to see, we the audience know it’s true. He’s making a horrible mistake.

Hera and another hero of the Rebellion.Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Xiono calls for Hera to be court-martialed and for a moment it seems like there’s no one, not even Mon Mothma, who can fix this. Which is when there’s a ruckus outside the door. A very familiar gold droid, with an even more familiar accent, tries to enter the room and eventually does so. Previous Disney Star Wars shows have shown other protocol droids but this one is unmistakable. It’s C-3PO himself, played by Anthony Daniels, and 3PO explains he’s there on behalf of Leia Organa. Leia wanted to make sure the committee knew that it was she who authorized Hera’s trip and that she apologizes for not knowing Senator Xiono forbade it. If he has any problems, he can direct it to her as the leader of the defense council. Mon Mothma takes that as gospel and closes the matter. However, she also takes Hera aside and whispers to her that she knows what just happened isn’t true. Point-blank she asks Hera if this threat is real. Hera tells her it is. “Prep for the worst and hope for the best,” she says.

It’s here that we learn episode seven of Ahsoka is called “Dreams and Madness,” a very interesting title when you look back at the episode as a whole. Who or what does it refer to exactly? We’ll discuss at the end.

Still riding in her ship, inside a whale, Ahsoka is doing some lightsaber training. And she’s doing it under the guidance of her old master, Anakin Skywalker. There’s a millisecond of confusion because we saw a more time-accurate Anakin with Ahsoka in the World Between Worlds, but when he starts talking about the war, things lock into place. As Anakin explains that Ahsoka may have to fight people like General Grievous, Asajj Ventress, or Count Dooku on the battlefield, we realize this is a decades-old recording from during the Clone Wars. He’s even got the haircut and outfit to match. Holo-kin gives Ahsoka lessons of encouragement and confidence as she goes through lightsaber training before being interrupted by Huyang. She tells him he made over 20 such recordings, this being the final one, and that she believes, all things considered, he was a good master. That bit about the recordings seems like a kind of throwaway line, but the episode then makes a very specific point to show that Ahsoka has all the recordings in a box in a closet. We’d imagine those will come back, if not this season, then in the future.

Holo-Kin Skywalker.Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Huyang is there to tell Ahsoka the Purrgil are slowing down, as well as his skepticism that they could’ve possibly taken them to the exact place they needed to be. To this, Ahsoka messes with him a bit and our inference from a few episodes back is revealed to be true. This Ahsoka, following her near-death experience, is somehow unburdened. She’s more fun and playful. Later in the episode she’ll even smile and laugh. This is much more the Ahsoka fans fell in love with through animation.

Of course, the Purrgil do drop out of hyperspace precisely where they need to be, and instantly it’s chaos. Thrawn and his team have set up a minefield where bombs are drawn to whatever is near them and explode. For a second, the Purrgil provide cover but they soon decide to leave. Now Ahsoka’s ship is exposed and even when they make it out of the minefield after an exciting aerial action scene, they’re pursued by Imperial fighters. She’s forced to hide in the Purrgil graveyard surrounding Peridea, and Huyang remarks that it’s odd they knew she was coming. Thrawn orders the fighters back though and says his plan is for Ahsoka to think she’s in the clear.

So we’re caught up with Hera, we’ve caught up with Ahsoka, what about Sabine? Well, pushing the moment we’ve been waiting for back an extra few minutes, the episode finally cuts to her and Ezra, who are traveling along with the Noti. Apparently, she’s already told him everything that’s happened between when he disappeared and now—the highlights being that the Empire fell and the Emperor is dead. Or, at least, “That’s what people say,” Sabine adds in a nice little wink. Plus, tying up the Rebels links, Hera’s a general and Zeb is training recruits (finally a Zeb mention!). What she hasn’t told Ezra yet is how she came to find him in this alternate galaxy. Sabine just says it’s complicated and Ezra, kind of maddeningly, is okay with leaving it at that. (Who else wanted to scream “Ezra, she sold out her friends and the galaxy to save you! Thrawn is still out there and he’s getting ready to leave!” Just me? Okay.) One tidbit Sabine does drop is the fact that since he was gone, Ahsoka took her on as an apprentice. He’s surprised, but happy about this.

Ezra and Sabine, together again.Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Back in space, Huyang’s scans are unable to locate Sabine so Ahsoka reaches out with the Force. It works, Sabine senses her, and just in time too as Thrawn uses the Nightsisters to find Ahsoka and force her out of hiding. She flies out, presumably heading towards where Sabine and Ezra are.

Also on the lookout for Sabine and Ezra are Baylan and Shin. They’re observing the friends from a distance when Baylan makes a surprising suggestion. He tells his apprentice she should alert Thrawn about Ezra and Sabine and take care of them herself. She’s taken aback that her master won’t be helping, but he tells her that her ambition leads in one direction but his path is in another. It’s then we realize we’re seeing this master let his apprentice go but not before delivering one last piece of advice: “Impatience for victory will guarantee defeat.”

Back on his ship, Thrawn looks at all the pieces coming into play and seems confident in their chances for victory, especially with Baylan helping out. Only, he’s not helping out, which we know, but Thrawn doesn’t. At least not yet.

The bandits that Sabine so easily dispatched of last week have regrouped and joined Shin on her pursuit. They begin to attach Ezra, Sabine ,and the Noti, who have no way to fight back. Ezra gets them to form a defensive position before noticing a figure off in the horizon. It’s Shin, and Sabine explains that she’s like Ezra, lightsaber and everything.

A final moment for Baylan and Shin.Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Ahsoka is now finally on the planet, flying above the action, still avoiding fighters. She tells Huyang that she needs to get down to the surface, only they can’t land. And so he flies low and Ahsoka jumps down to the ground, in a half cool, half not-great-looking piece of CGI. Before you had a chance to complain though, turns out Ahsoka lands not by Ezra and Sabine, but by the now rogue Baylan. He tells her he can’t let her interfere and the two powerful Force users battle again.

Their battle is then intercut with Sabine and Ezra defending themselves from the bandits. Sabine offers Ezra her (formerly his) lightsaber but Ezra says no. He just needs the Force, he says, and the battle begins. They’re doing okay until Shin shows up and radically shifts the balance, Force-shoving and knocking out Ezra.

The show cuts back and forth between the two battles, really turning up the intensity, and eventually, Baylan tells Ahsoka what we’ve assumed to be true. She can’t defeat him. He’s too powerful. But Ahsoka says she doesn’t need to, distracts him, and leaves. Just in time too, because with Shin now there, as well as a bunch of Thrawn’s Night Troopers, it’s looking dire for Ezra and Sabine. That is until Ahsoka shows up. Her presence turns the tables and sends the troopers running, saving her friends.

Thrawn watches the battle from afar.Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Thrawn is watching all of this play out on some virtual chessboard back on his ship and notices something. Baylan is no longer helping his cause. He does not seem pleased. And yet, he decides to recall all his troops and calls his tangle with Ahsoka a success. Morgan doesn’t understand how that’s possible since they were defeated, so Thrawn explains: he was able to distract the powerful Jedi long enough to finish the crucial cargo transfer, making his departure from this galaxy that much sooner. Thrawn says he now has the advantage of the most important weapon at this moment—time.

As Thrawn’s soldiers pull back, Shin is face to face with Ahsoka. Ahsoka offers her a truce and says she can help her. But Shin doesn’t take the bait and leaves. With that, all seems well for our heroes. Sabine and Ahsoka get to reunite—and finally, Ezra and Ahsoka also get to reunite. She not only smiles through it, she laughs, exhibiting some actual joy for the first time in the entire show. It’s a joy shared by Ezra too who thinks he’s finally going home. Though, we’re not so sure.

“Dreams and Madness” finally saw the reunion of master and apprentice Ahsoka and Sabine, as well as the further return of Ezra Bridger. It also showed Thrawn as a master military strategist, thinking several steps ahead of his opponents in order to get what he wants. The Shin and Baylan story shifted in an unexpected way and appearances by C-3PO, Clone Wars Anakin, and a hint at a not-so-dead Palpatine linked all three Star Wars trilogies. Talk about an episode with a lot packed in.

The gang is back. Screenshot: Lucasfilm

But, with one episode left, how far is this story going to go? Obviously, Thrawn won’t be defeated in one more episode, but will this season of Ahsoka see a chapter close or simply another one open? Can our heroes escape this galaxy far, far away, and get back to their own? Most importantly, how will Ahsoka deal with Sabine’s betrayal and what will Ezra think of it all? There’s a lot to wrap up with only one more episode, and that’s with the full knowledge and expectation that there are almost certainly more seasons and movies to come. We just have to hope that season one of Ahsoka, after so expertly putting all the pieces in place during this episode, moves them to a satisfying spot for us to leave things for a few years.

Then, finally, there’s the title. “Dreams and Madness.” No one really had any dreams in the episode, nor was there any actual madness. So you have to think bigger picture and once you do that, it could go any number of ways. It works in regards to Shin and Baylan; she has aspirational dreams and he’s mad for power. It works for Thrawn, in that he has dreams of leaving and madness in his methods. It works for the Sabine/Ezra/Ahsoka relationship too in that their reunion is certainly a dream come true, but Sabine’s previous actions may turn it into madness. Or maybe it’s none, or all, of those things. Who is to say?

Weigh in with your thoughts below, as we discuss the penultimate seventh episode of Ahsoka.

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Blue Eye Samurai Cuts It Up in a Bloody, Slick First Trailer @ io9

Image: Netflix

During its animation-focused “Drop 01" livestream event, Netflix unveiled a first look at Blue Eye Samurai, a brand new series from Michael Green (A Haunting in Venice), his co-writer/wife Amber Noizumi, and supervising director Jane Wu (Interview With a Vampire).

Set in 1633 Japan during the Edo period, the series stars Maya Erskine as Mizu, a hardened fighter whose biracial status is made clear by the blue eyes she inherited from her white father. Looking to put a blade through his stomach for assaulting her mother, Mizu carves a very bloody path through the land in her quest for revenge, all the while trying to conceal her identity. Along the way, she crosses paths with a number of characters, including a noodle chef named Ringo (Masi Oka) who decides to tag along with her and the blacksmith who taught her how to fight (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa).

Blue Eye Samurai received a full unveiling from Vanity Fair just yesterday, where it was described as “unapologetically adults-only...ranging in tone from tragic to poetic to barbaric and occasionally erotic.” Beyond all the bloodshed, the show is said to feature corrupt rulers and aristocrats and sleazy human traffickers, things often seen by someone in the midst of a revenge spree. And like other revenge stories, the series will show Mizu learning to connect with others again, which Green called “a very hard lesson for her to learn.” While the first half of the season will show her having acts of mercy and compassion blowing up in her face, the second half will display “that maybe being vulnerable is okay and pays its own dividends.”

The eight-episode season of Blue Eye Samurai will hit Netflix November 3. The series also stars Brenda Song, Stephanie Hsu, George Takei, and Kenneth Branagh.

Image: Netflix (Other)

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Netflix's Devil May Cry's Anime Makes a Short, Stylish Debut @ io9

Image: Capcom

Netflix has spent the last few years releasing animated series based on popular video games like League of Legends, Tomb Raider, and Castlevania. It’s easy to forget, but at one point, it was revealed Capcom’s Devil May Cry series would be thrown into that mix. Details on the show have been nonexistent since that initial announcement, and you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking the show was quietly shelved.

Fortunately, that’s not the case. During its Drop 01 livestream event, Netflix used a very brief trailer to confirm the Devil May Cry anime exists and is almost ready for primetime. The eight-episode season is animated by Studio Mir (My Adventures With Superman) and led by the likes of Castlevania’s executive producer Adi Shankar, writer Alex Larson, Mir producer Seung Wook Lee, and Hideaki Itsuno, who’s directed most of the sequel games.

In a press release, Shankar wrote that he was “honored that Netflix and Capcom have entrusted me to shepherd the Devil May Cry franchise. Alex Larsen and I love these characters, we are part of the fandom, and vow to surpass the exceptionally high bar we set for ourselves.”

As a series, Devil May Cry is defined by stylish combat and a ridiculous cast of characters, most notably the lead, Dante. As the son of a powerful demon named Sparda and his human mother Eva, Dante is a demon hunter for hire who always gets caught up in trying to save the world from demons who want to destroy or take it over. Across the five mainline games, Dante fights a variety of monsters with increasingly deadly (and silly) weapons and powers, and makes friends with equally powerful people like Lady, Trish, and Nero. He also tends to fight his evil twin brother Vergil as well, who’s likely to show up at some point during this series.

Devil May Cry will release on Netflix in the near future.

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Disney's New Wish Trailer Promises Fairy-Tale Dreams Come to Life @ io9

Screenshot: Disney/YouTube

After a teaser that dropped all the way back in April, we finally have a fresh look at Disney’s Wish. Not to be confused with the synergy-obsessed company’s cruise ship of the same name, this is the animated musical starring Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, and Alan Tudyk that explores where, exactly, that famous star everyone’s always wishing on in Disney stories came from.

Wish | Official Trailer

According to the official synopsis, “In Wish, Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe—the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico—to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen. Featuring the voices of Academy Award-winning actor Ariana DeBose as Asha, Chris Pine as Magnifico, and Alan Tudyk as Asha’s favorite goat, Valentino, the film is helmed by Oscar-winning director Chris Buck (Frozen, Frozen 2) and Fawn Veerasunthorn (Raya and the Last Dragon).”

The voice talent here is excellent—we know DeBose will get at least one powerhouse song, “This Wish,” to show off her pipes; Tudyk as a rascally goat feels like excellent casting; and we can’t wait to behold Chris Pine as a villainous, wish-snatching ruler. Wish hits theaters on November 22.

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10 Kid-Friendly Halloween Picks Streaming on Disney+ @ io9

Gonzo in Muppets Haunted MansionPhoto: Disney/Mitch Haaseth

Got kids in your midst who aren’t quite ready to rip into George Romero’s greatest hits or make Michael Myers’ acquaintance, but who still want to get in the Halloween spirit? Disney+ has a decent selection of kid-friendly flicks we wouldn’t call “horror,” but dip at least a toe or two into the realm of “spooky.”

Disney+ has planned out its own block of October programming, dubbed “Hallowstream,” and you’ll find some of those same titles in this list (watch a Hallowstream teaser here). But we’ve also picked some more out-there ingredients for the cauldron, too.

Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus (1993) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Yes, it’s about a trio of Salem witches who hunger for children—but somehow, even though the dastardly hags do succeed in preying on a pair of young siblings in Hocus Pocus’ first few minutes, they’re still more goofy than scary, for the most part. Even the zombie is cute, and there’s a talking cat to boot. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy returned for a sequel in 2022, which you can also stream on Disney+, and there’s a third film on the way somehow—but the 1993 original is your best bet for timeless “new kid in town must defeat local witches after accidentally reviving them” October fun.

Stream it now


First Trip to Halloweentown! 😱 | Throwback Thursday | Halloweentown | Disney Channel

Released in 1998, Halloweentown follows a teen and her younger siblings as they realize they’re descended from witches—Grandma is played by Debbie Reynolds—and visit a parallel-dimension town populated by both friendly and menacing monsters. A string of spooky hijinks lead up to the kids having to save the day; there’s never any doubt that good will prevail, but the setting, sort of “creature-feature lite,” is so endearing it’s no surprise this has become one of the most-beloved Disney Channel Original Movies, spawning a trio of sequels.

Stream it now

The Nightmare Before Christmas

This Is Halloween (From Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”)

Tim Burton produced and Henry Selick directed this 1993 stop-motion musical that swiftly became a pop-culture phenomenon, and has only seen its fame escalate over time. As a bonus, you can also keep this celebration of multiple holidays on standby for your Christmas movie marathon.

Stream it now

Escape to Witch Mountain

Escape to Witch Mountain | Unofficial Official Trailer | Disney+

Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Watcher in the Woods aren’t on Disney+, which is unfortunate, but the lack of those mind-warping 1980s oddities is almost made up for by the fact that this 1975 release, which is more sci-fi thriller than horror, is part of the line-up. Orphaned kids hiding a big secret team up with a Winnebago-driving codger (Eddie Albert) to evade baddies (Ray Milland, Donald Pleasence) as they make their way to you-know-which destination. Now a cult favorite, Escape to Witch Mountain inspired two sequels, a remake, and a Rock-starring reboot.

Stream it now

Mr. Boogedy

Mr. Boogedy TV Movie Intro (1986)

While we’re discussing Disney’s weirder moments in history, this 1986 Disney Sunday Movie about a family that moves to a spooky house in “Lucifer Falls,” only to discover it’s haunted by a vindictive ghost, entirely fits the bill. The fact that Mr. Boogedy looks so cheap—and simply that it’s titled Mr. Boogedy, which is more fun to say than it has any right to be—actually adds to the charm.

Stream it now

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Bedknobs and Broomsticks - 1979 Reissue Trailer

Angela Lansbury stars in this 1971 musical blend of live-action and animation about an eccentric woman who agrees to shelter a trio of London kids in her countryside home during World War II—and we soon learn that “eccentric” really means “studying witchcraft so she can use it against the Nazis.” Magical shenanigans ensue in what’s since become a much-loved classic.

Stream it now

The Black Cauldron

The Black Cauldron - 1985 Theatrical Trailer (35mm 4K)

Misunderstood when it was released in 1985, Disney’s dark animated fantasy inspired by Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain novels has since become a cult favorite—which may or may not have anything to do with its occult themes.

Stream it now

Muppets Haunted Mansion

Muppets Haunted Mansion | Official Trailer | Disney+

Disney has now tried twice to make films starring human actors based on its popular, ghost-filled theme-park attraction; you can stream the 2003 Eddie Murphy version now, and the 2023 LaKeith Standfield film arrives October 4. Both of those have their moments, but this 2021 Disney+ special proves that Muppet actors are best-suited to the demands of Haunted Mansion-adjacent narratives.

Stream it now

Werewolf by Night

Marvel Studios’ Special Presentation: Werewolf By Night | Official Trailer | Disney+

Very young viewers are not the target audience for this 2022 Marvel special, which clocks in at just under an hour and follows a group of monster hunters who don’t realize at first that one among them is a monster himself. But older kids can dig it, along with anyone who hasn’t kept up with Marvel’s excessively tangled storylines, since Werewolf by Night is for all intents and purposes a standalone tale. If the black-and-white format is a turnoff, Disney+ will begin streaming Werewolf by Night in Color on October 20.

Stream it now

The Skeleton Dance

Silly Symphonies - The Skeleton Dance

This 1929 “Silly Symphony” short about a gaggle of skeletons having a dance party one moonlit night is maybe the most classic example of gateway horror ever. Iconic, adorable, and still a little tooth-chompingly chilling no matter how many times you watch it.

Stream it now

Star Trek 4's Screenwriter Insists It's Still On Track @ io9

Image: Paramount

Kevin Greutert talks Amanda Young’s growth in the Saw movies. The cast and crew of The Exorcist: Believer talk religion in a new featurette. Kristen Stewart’s Living for the Dead gets a new look. Plus, what’s coming on the final episode of Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon. Spoilers, away!

Star Trek 4

Screenwriter Lindsey Beer promised Star Trek 4 is “still on the tracks” during a recent interview with Collider.

It is, it’s still on the tracks. I love that project, and it was another one that I had to hop off of to direct [Pet Sematary: Bloodlines], and that was a hard thing to do. But I love that everybody involved with that project.

It’s a Wonderful Knife

Deadline reports Jane Widdop, Joel McHale, Justin Long, Katharine Isabelle, Jess McLeod and Cassandra Naud will star in It’s a Wonderful Knife, a new Christmas slasher from director Tyler MacIntyre (Tragedy Girls) and screenwriter Michael Kennedy (Freaky). Slated for a November 10 theatrical release, the story follows Winnie Carruthers one year after “saving her town from a psychotic killer on Christmas Eve.” When Winnie “wishes she’d never been born, she finds herself in a nightmare parallel universe and discovers that without her, things could be much, much worse. Now the killer is back, and she must team up with the town misfit to identify the killer and get back to her own reality.”

Saw X

During a recent interview with Total Film, director Kevin Greutert stated Saw X will reveal how Amanda Young transitioned from a “recovering drug addict” in the first film to a “sassy rebel” in the third.

I would say that she’s a major character in this story, and I really wanted to explore that area between what we see in Saw 1 where she’s a very vulnerable recovering drug addict and the kind of sassy rebel in Saw 3.

Meanwhile, a new clip reveals one of Jigsaw’s victims must saw into his own head with a craniotome before an electric chair finishes the job for him.

SAW X (2023) Official Clip ‘Mateo’s Trap’ - Synnøve Macody Lund, Octavio Hinojosa, Renata Vaca

The Exorcist: Believer

The cast and crew of The Exorcist: Believer discuss comparative religion in a new featurette.

The Exorcist: Believer | Around the World

House of Dolls

To collect an inheritance, three sisters must solve a scavenger hunt inside the life-sized dollhouse a madman calls home in the trailer for House of Dolls, coming to VOD this October 3.

House of Dolls (2023) - Official Trailer | VMI Worldwide

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon

Daryl “sets out on a mission” in an especially brief synopsis for “Coming Home,” the first season finale of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon.

Daryl sets out on a mission.

[Spoiler TV]


While Luke deals with a film crew, Susan investigates a haunted bed and breakfast in the synopsis for “Truth in Advertising,” the second episode of SurrelEstate’s second season.

Luke deals with a film crew at a client’s property, while Susan investigates a strange seaside B&B.

[Spoiler TV]

Living for the Dead

Five queer ghost hunters investigate haunted locations in the trailer for Living for the Dead, a new series from executive producer Kristen Stewart.

Living for the Dead | Official Trailer | Hulu


Finally, Loki has five minutes to save time, itself, in a new TV spot for his second season at Disney+.

Marvel’s Loki Season 2 “Hands of Time” Promo (HD) Tom Hiddleston Marvel superhero series

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Banned Books Trivia @ Bureau 42

Today we’re breaking the rules and reading some offensive books.

Hey gang, it’s episode 244 of the Dorky Geeky Nerdy Trivia Podcast and this week, we’ve got Banned Books Trivia. This week, the American Library Associate has their Banned Books week. They call attention to censorship around the country and highlight books that some people may not want you to read.

Some of these might surprise your while others…not so much.

If you need rules or score cards check out You can also find a list of all the books I’ll mention this week for your reading pleasure.

And with that, let’s get started.

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Here's Your Spoiler Discussion Zone for the Penultimate Episode of Ahsoka @ io9

Captain Enoch (Wes Chatham) and Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) with Night Troopers in last week’s episode of Ahsoka.Image: Lucasfilm

Last week’s “Far, Far Away” was a big episode for Disney+ Star Wars series Ahsoka—though not really a big one for Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) herself, since the Peridea-set action was given over to some other major story beats, including the arrival of two major characters: Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) and Ezra (Eman Esfandi).

So this week, it’s safe to assume there’ll be more Ahsoka—who, last we saw, was making her way to the planet by way of the Purrgil star whales, in pursuit of both Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) and the dreaded Thrawn, the latter of whom was not relishing a reunion. Based on Thrawn’s orders at the end of episode six, perhaps we’ll also get some displays of that witchy “dark magick,” courtesy of the Great Mothers. Fingers crossed!

Whatever transpires this week, it’ll no doubt set up the season finale set to hit Disney+ on October 3. And that means there’ll be tons to talk about, right here in io9's spoiler-laden discussion zone. Have at it in the comments below.

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Sleep No More Lives Up to Its Legacy in Immersive Theater @ io9

Image: The McKittrick Hotel

Manhattan’s McKittrick hotel looms nondescriptly while housing an entire world of mystery and intrigue inspired by Shakespeare’s Scottish Play. During Halloween season io9 was invited to its current run.

Having experienced immersive theater on the West Coast for the better part of 10 years, I’d often heard about the show that many say started it all. Sleep No More is talked about in lounges and waiting areas of other haunting immersive productions like Jon Braver’s Delusion interactive plays. I was told, “Oh you’ll love Sleep No More” and “You have to make it out to Sleep No More.” In its current iteration since 2011, the performance marked the first immersive experience for many audiences in the time before other immersive plays sprang up around the country. Its debut came long before Walt Disney World’s ill-fated Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser would attempt the monumental feat of having you live in a big space opera themed after Lucasfilm’s franchise for 48 hours (and a pretty penny).

Finally, during a recent rainy weekend in New York City, I was able to check this OG production off my list. When you enter you’re led into what feels like the wings of a stage; you forfeit belongings like your phone, purse, and whatever else you carry on you at coat check. You’re to play a spectating, silent part, and are given blank, hollowed-out masks to wear as you are ushered into the tragic tale of Macbeth.

Image: The McKittrick Hotel

The creaking of wooden floors and the swishing of dresses immediately transport you into another time. It’s sizzling and cinematically moody as you witness a noir tale of power and murder. It all unfolds around you with the troupe really embodying specters whose fates are imprinted between the walls and in the rooms of the hotel like a twisted purgatory. It’s a truly haunted hotel, but just not in the jump-scare way. They’re the poltergeists of play, and their memories play on a loop over and over as you’d imagine ghosts cursed to live out their unfinished business would. And they see you.

The roles of the spectators isn’t interactive in the sense that you’re required to carry out any action to unlock a plot thread. Your presence feels like a surrender to dream walking, as if you checked into the McKittrick, heard some noises go bump in the night or saw a shadow in the hall—but decided to quickly go to sleep, only to wake up in that space between life and dreaming where you see what unfolds between the players. It feels illicit as you’re led into intimate moments between murderous lovers, observe scheming supporting roles, and bear witness to innocent lives being taken. And there’s the rub: when you behold the most harrowing of moments, they know you’re there, someone to carry the weight of what really happened in desperately quiet pleas for help or in manic confessions. This is particularly the case with Lady Macbeth, whose madness quickly breaks the fourth wall; we become those who know what she did and our knowledge drives her further and further into her insanity.

With over three hours of the tale, during which you can follow each character for the run, there’s so much to see from the different points of view that one visit isn’t enough. It’s an astounding feat of art that has sheer re-playability, because there’s so much detail and story to explore within the realms of its various stories from the Bard’s text. The rooms are exquisitely designed; in one space you’re in the desolate winter or lost in a maze, in another or you’re in a candy store with secrets or seeing some sexy boudoir action—and then, in another bedroom, the fateful death that ties all the spirits to the hotel. The ensemble is stellar and falls into moments together in total sync and around you in ways that prove the might of the East Coast troupe.

Image: The McKittrick Hotel

It can be overwhelming and overstimulating, wandering their tragic gorgeous hellscape—but don’t worry. It’s nice to be able to break away into a lounge for a breather and drink, which I needed a time or two before submitting to the cinematic seance with other guests again. My partner who accompanied me (and who I got separated from many times) had a different experience altogether from our voyeuristic adventure. And as we compared each scene we saw unfold, we knew we couldn’t wait to come back again despite the heaviness of how deep into the Scottish Play’s tragedy we got, it was addicting. We could see how many were inspired to create more tales like this one across genres in immersive entertainment. But be aware that the levels of involvement really do affect you in deeper ways than a movie or book. Especially the gut-punch of an ending that feels like an explosive exocism in slo-mo you’re stuck in sleep paralysis while experiencing. You’ll feel like you need an energy cleanser and sage right after, and maybe before the next time you check in.

Sleep No More is produced by Punchdrunk and Emursive alongside the McKittrick Hotel. Its current performance schedule runs through November 5. The McKittrick also hosts a new nighttime spectacular that’s like a horny, kitschy Disney or Universal show called Hypnotique. The theater troupe also recently opened a sister play, The Burnt City, in London during 2022. For more information on ticketing visit here.

Image: The McKittrick Hotel

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There's Something in the Barn Pits Martin Starr Against Killer Elves @ io9

Martin Starr in There’s Something in the Barn.Image: Sony

Sometimes even the most flawed movies deserve a tip of the cap for sheer ambition. Sure, it didn’t quite hit the mark, but wow that effort was incredible. And the new Norwegian movie There’s Something in the Barn fits that description. Lots of it is good, lots of it is not, but it tries to hit such a weird, specific bullseye of homage and tone that you just have to give it props.

Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks, Spider-Man Homecoming) both executive produces and stars in the film as Bill, an American who inherits his uncle’s farm in Norway. Itching for a fresh start, Bill moves his whole family there just before Christmas with the aim of turning the farm’s barn into a high-end bed and breakfast. There’s one big problem with that plan, though. The barn is inhabited by an elf (Kiran Shah) who, if you don’t abide by his strict rules, will get very, very violent.

Just from the film’s setup, you get a very 1980s throwback vibe to the thing. Bill is kind of modern Clark Griswold, desperate to make his family happy even though he’s often a selfish buffoon. The elf side then has big-time Gremlins vibes, not only with the rules but other things that come into play later in the movie. Plus the whole Christmas setting adds to both those things.

As Bill and his family (which includes his wife, played by Game of Thrones alum Amrita Acharia, a teen daughter played by Zoe Winther-Hansen, and a younger son played by Townes Bunner) try to get acclimated to the new county, much of the humor is derived from making fun of Norway as well as America. It’s a little obvious, a little on the nose, but often very, very funny. Soon, the son gets wind of the elf and even meets him, striking up a friendship. Only no one in his family believes him and, with Christmas fast approaching, things go downhill quickly.

Once that happens, the movie shifts gears a bit, going from a fish-out-of-water family comedy to a more gore-driven horror film. The shift works but the movie can never quite decide which way it wants to go. Does it keep being funny? How far does the gore go? It struggles to keep a balance, and as a result, the film’s third act drags on much longer than it should.

There are fun moments throughout though. Anytime you think maybe it’s time to look at your watch, someone throws a Christmas ornament bomb, gets eaten by a snowmobile, or gets chased on a sled. So many fun, weird things happen that even when they don’t fit, it’s still entertaining. And though some of the fighting between elves and humans can get, at times, slightly embarrassing, it always gets saved with one final, crushing blow.

Starr, who is almost always relegated to supporting roles, does a fantastic job as the leading man, channeling his inner Chevy Chase with just enough of that trademark awkward energy to keep the character unique. The family members are all great too, with special marks for Winther-Hansen as the daughter, who has the most emotion to deal with. But the real MVPs are all the Norwegian citizens, each who have very specific, but very hilarious roles to play. There’s the local sheriff played by Ragnarok’s Henriette Steenstrup, a truck driver played by Last Kingdom’s Jeppe Beck Laursen, and the historian, played by Calle Hellevang Larsen. Each is so good and so precise in their role, they add an incredible authenticity to the surroundings. And, of course, not enough can be said about the main elf played by Shah. He’s got a legendary resume and brings that authority to a very weird and complex but crucial role.

If it sounds like There’s Something in the Barn has maybe too much going on, you’d be right. But again, that’s because director Magnus Martens is aiming so high. This is a movie that wants to be a holiday classic, but also a cult classic, and also kind of fun for the whole family. It doesn’t really achieve any of that but it’s got such heart, ambition, and great performances that it gets the point across anyway.

There’s Something in the Barn had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest 2023. It will be released this holiday season, though the exact details are TBD.

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