Movie theaters will be full of fresh carnage this weekend, from the evil mind games of "Intolerable Cruelty" to the full-on gore of "The House of the Dead." Heck, even the dogs in the kid-friendly "Good Boy!" are actually part of an invading alien army whose intention is to conquer planet Earth.
But if you ask its cast, "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" is the bloodiest of all this week's new releases (click for photos). And if you check with most industry insiders, odds are that none of the above-mentioned movies will stand a chance at the box office against Quentin Tarantino's first movie since 1997's "Jackie Brown."
For the over-the-top tribute to just about every Hong Kong punch-up, spaghetti Western and blaxploitation flick Tarantino has ever loved, the cast had plenty of homework to do.
"We over-trained," Daryl Hannah said of her preparations for the fisticuffs-laden film. "I asked [Tarantino] for some movies [to watch]. Nobody really has the film education that Quentin has. Nobody holds that much information in their head but him. [My character] is drawn from a couple of things. There's an English thriller called 'Twisted Nerve' that [her] whistle comes from, and a Swedish porn film called 'They Call Her One Eye' that [her] eye patch comes from."
Beginning as a loose conversation between Uma Thurman and Tarantino while they were making "Pulp Fiction," "Kill Bill" evolved into a reportedly 200-plus-page script. After months and months of shooting, Miramax decided it would be best to release the movie in two parts (see "Instant Sequel: Tarantino's 'Kill Bill' Chopped Into Two Parts").
Despite its length, Hannah said, there were many holes in the script — at least as far as the elaborate fight scenes were concerned. "I think my fight scene was described [on the page] as 'The greatest fight scene of all time,' " explained the actress, whose character won't actually square off against Thurman's until "Kill Bill: Volume 2," due in February.
"I trained for three months in Los Angeles," she said. "I trained for a month in China. I studied with Sonny Chiba, with Master Woo-ping [Yuen]. Most of the skills I learned, I didn't get to use. I learned [a lot] of stuff just in case."
Undoubtedly there will be plenty of people who've "over-trained" walking in to see "The House of the Dead" this weekend — albeit their training will have come from years of playing the first-person-shooter video game upon which the flick is based.
Presumably there'll be no one shooting in "Good Boy!," a family comedy with a plot that answers that age-old question, "What if dogs are really just aliens sent here from outer space?" Space cadet Brittany Murphy supplies the voice of one of the dogs.
Directed and co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen ("The Big Lebowski," "Fargo"), "Intolerable Cruelty" is a comedy of the more adult variety, centering on a gold-digging soon-to-be-divorced woman (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and an attorney who falls for her (George Clooney). "Cruelty" is a reunion of sorts for the Coens and Clooney, who worked together on "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
Clint Eastwood continues to sharpen his directorial chops with "Mystic River," a crime thriller starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon that opens in select cities this weekend. The movie will go into wider release on October 15.