UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION: Bloodthirsty vengeance is measured out in buckets, not spoonfuls for this hard-hitting vampire movie sequel. The story picks up right where the first UNDERWORLD left off, in the midst of a war between Lycans (werewolves) and vampires, with the gorgeous death-dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale), on the run with her vamp-wolf hybrid lover, Michael (Scott Speedman). This go-'round, there are flashbacks to three centuries earlier and the separation of two ultra-bad brothers, one vampire and one Lycan. The Lycan gets locked in a hidden tomb/prison and the feud begins. In the present, the winged vamp brother Marcus (Tony Curran) is determined to find his Lycan sibling and free him, which would wreak unimaginable havoc on the world. Selene's got to stop it, and the result is mayhem, with great gun battles, bashings and hackings, mysterious artifacts, orgies, and sneaking around in the dripping-wet crypts and catacombs. Beckinsale looks great with her jet-black hair, skintight leather bodysuit, red lips, and glowing blue eyes. Director Len Wiseman obviously has a great love for this alternate universe; he keeps the action humming, the blood running, and the cast well-stocked with seasoned British actors like Sir Derek Jacobi, Bill Nighy, and Steven Mackintosh. The sex and violence may still be a bit intense for youngsters, but for the vampire crowd, it's a moveable feast of generous, still-twitching proportions.
THE GRUDGE: A remake of the Japanese horror hit JU-ON (widely considered to be one of the scariest movies ever made), THE GRUDGE is helmed by its original director, Takeshi Shimizu. Like its predecessor, this Hollywood version of the film takes place in Tokyo, but most of the main characters are American, including Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER), a young social worker, and her peers. When Karen enters a seemingly abandoned home to look after a mentally disturbed resident, she soon discovers that there's an evil--and very aggressive--presence in the house, and it's lashing out at every person who sets foot inside.
Having directed both the original JU-ON and its sequel in Japan, Shimizu was very familiar with his own tale of terror by the time he directed its 2004 incarnation. Using many of the key actors from the previous films (including Takako Fuji and Yuya Ozeki who have unforgettable roles), Shimizu recreates the story with the added advantage of a Hollywood budget (acquired with the help of producer Sam Raimi of SPIDER-MAN fame, who is also a noted horror-movie director). As with many Japanese horror films (particularly the original RING, which strongly influences this movie), THE GRUDGE relies on atmosphere over plot, resulting a series of utterly chilling moments that will leave viewers fascinated and unbelievably frightened.