Every week we cover what we hope to be the best comics of the week on Wednesday, but for a lot of you that’s far too late. You’ve hit the shop and you’ve got your stack by lunchtime. So now we’re going to hit you ahead of time and show you what we think are the best offerings of the week. This way you can leave the shop Wednesday knowing you have a real winner in your pile, or at the very least grab something before it sells out.
DARK ENGINE #1
Ryan Burton and John Bivens are not fucking around. They want a female unstoppable force like Conan, but with a hint of Lovecraft and time travel. I’ve already had the pleasure of looking at the interior pages for the issue and I can tell you that Biven’s art is the right kind of visceral to showcase this unstoppable force, and the narrative leaves lots of intrigue. This is one you’ll want to grab before selling out, these dudes may be relative unknowns, but after this week that’s all going to change.
BLACK MARKET #1
This should be a no brainer. Frank Barbiere has proven to be a safe bet when it comes to comics. His storytelling is captivating and expertly paced. He blends real character drama with a huge premise. While Victor Santos has is one of the best stylized cartoonists out there. I can’t think of a better team to tell the story of “Black Market” which see’s superhero blood trading in the shadiest alleys. We’ve already reviewed it and loved it. Our own Brent Hirose had this to say. “A well crafted story that finds compelling material in well traveled territory, “Black Market” is the real deal. Buy it now.”
THE SQUIDDER #1
Ben Templesmith hasn’t had a creator owned comic in quite some time, and never anything like this. “The Squidder” follows an old solider’s return from war, and is written and drawn by Templesmith himself. The project was recently kickstarted and funded within twenty four hours, now we get to see the excellent fruits of Ben’s labour, and they are absolutely haunting and delicious.
This is something so rare and special. Here we have a Buffy The Vampire Slayer story written by Spike himself. It’s a tale involving the vampire with a soul that takes place during season seven of the show, and is actually WRITTEN BY JAMES MARSTERS. You can probably hear our own Shadowjayd’s squeals of excitement from here. This is an opportunity unlike any other, and for a Buffy fan this is the must own comic of the week.
Written by T. Blake Braddy, @blakebraddy
The Fall is, at its core, science fiction. Combining narrative aspects of Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick, this genre-bending 2D action-platformer asks players to stalk the corridors of a rusted, broken, darkly beautiful environment to solve a variety of challenging puzzles. It is primarily a point-and-click adventure game with occasional combat to fill out this very tightly-written, well-conceived experience.
However, even though it exists largely by standing on the shoulders of various science fiction tropes – future dystopia, robot laws – it also feels distinctly horrific. The ghastly imagery is more reminiscent of, say, Dead Space or Alien than something more traditionally sci-fi. Alien creatures explode into gooey messes when shot, human corpses get ripped to pieces, and the accumulated garbage of a world long forgotten is perpetually visible.
The Fall does not condescend to the audience, nor does it pretend to be anything it is not. What it is is a beautiful, puzzle-driven sci-fi experience, using its relatively small size in order to tell a story with a surprising amount of restraint and subtlety. The puzzles can be overly tough, at times, but the reward for playing is well worth the strained brain cells you’ll have to use to get through it.
As such, players must work their way through several levels as A.R.I.D., an artificially intelligent combat suit. She must find medical attention for the injured, comatose human inside her before he perishes, which isn’t so easy, considering the only remnants of humanity appear to be dilapidated buildings, malfunctioning computers, and other robots. To exacerbate the problem, humans treated robots like slaves when they were around, so to be able to save “her human,” she must find increasingly clever ways to subvert the protocol to keep robots in line and under strict obeisance.
At the risk of spoiling puzzles, I won’t reveal anything too specific, but A.R.I.D.’s mission takes her through abandoned facilities, dank corridors, and surreal future towns. Players will explore small areas, using specific clues to solve puzzles and unlock new levels. The game’s main mechanic requires players to use a flashlight to find clues and use, combine, or change them in a variety of ways. It’s Monkey Island meets Dead Space.
And speaking of Dead Space, it must be mentioned that parts of the The Fall bear striking resemblances to other games. A.R.I.D. is a space suit with a glowing face a la Isaac Clarke’s very own suit, though comparisons to Dead Space end there. The surroundings make me recall Limbo, down to the stark dark / light contrast between foreground and background. A.R.I.D.’s voice is reminiscent of GLaDOS’s, though only in its mechanized tonality, and another distinct section gives off a very Fallout 3 kind of vibe.
And yet, The Fall never once invites the criticism of creative laziness. It is a game with an overall aesthetic its own, despite faint homages, and the story and environment reveal depth that makes the world feel thoroughly fleshed out. Similarly, the writing never telegraphs too much, allowing players to mentally fill narrative gaps through exploration.
Visually, The Fall looks fantastic. The character models are well-designed and distinct but also simple in a beneficial way. It seems as though the devs managed to find visual as well as narrative ways to keep everything lean and understated, and it works to the game’s benefit.
The control scheme takes some getting used to, but it is an interesting and different approach. Players use the right thumbstick to activate a flashlight to search for clues, which appear in the form of a magnifying glass prompt. That feels somewhat cumbersome, but eventually it becomes like second nature, not entirely unlike its more traditional point-and-click counterparts.
On the path through the game, A.R.I.D. doesn’t only have to rely on her flashlight and wits to game the system-in-shambles. At the outset, A.R.I.D.’s “Operating Parameters” (abilities) are all damaged and non-functioning, and players unlock them over the course of the journey, which adds mechanical depth to what could have become a tedious experience, if left untouched. Had the game been mere puzzle solving or item combining to unlock new areas, it would have been uninspiring, indeed.
Ninety percent of the player’s time will be spent tracking and backtracking to solve puzzles, so despite the ominous tone and bleak surroundings, The Fall is not combat-heavy. You won’t be mowing down countless scores of humans or robots, so be prepared for the quiet, contemplative satire this game puts forth. The puzzles themselves are subtle (read: difficult), and solving them will require some pretty nonlinear thinking.
It isn’t so much a flaw – the puzzles are internally consistent – as it is a sticking point. The game is best when the puzzle’s answers kind of come freely to the player, and though exploration is one of the most alluring features of The Fall, traipsing back and forth over the same few screens can get frustrating over time. If, like me, you’re not versed in how to solve these kinds of puzzles, then you’ll probably end up spending way more time trekking back and forth than is absolutely necessary.
Other than that, any real problems with the game might come from misinterpreting the sometimes confusing syntax or diction of the clues. For example, one of the actions players can choose is so underutilized that I nearly couldn’t solve a puzzle for overlooking it. I happened to misread a very specific word in one of the clues, which caused me to search for a computer terminal that didn’t exist. That sort of thing can be frustrating, but so long as you’re ready for it, I suppose it’s not really problematic.
Over the Moon Games paints a fairly bleak picture of the future, but one that shines with the confident simplicity of its execution. There is not an ounce of wasted fat in The Fall, and the story arcs tightly over the course of its 4-5 hour playtime, satisfying without being intentionally sparse. Some backstory is layered into minor journal entries, and the world itself – even though it is dark – casts a meaningful light onto the universe players enter upon booting up the game.
The Final Word: The Fall is well worth its price tag. It is well-paced, subtly written, and visually appealing, not to mention the fact that the game has two episodes left in its three act structure, so there’s more to come. It doesn’t seem to be chasing any particular trend, and it is confident in the story it is trying to tell. Even though the Steam Summer Sale has ended, players could do way worse than picking up The Fall, available for Mac, PC, and Linux.
Strand Releasing announced today an August 29 release for Amer directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s giallo-inspired The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (read our review).
Described as a Giallo-inspired sexual horror-thriller, Tears turns on Dan (Klaus Tange) who returns to his Brussels home from a business trip and finds out his wife, Edwige (Ursula Bedena), has gone missing somewhere in his Art Nouveau-styled apartment building.
Described as a “highly original erotic thriller with a bloody and taut fantasia of suspense that leaves the viewer entranced,” the official trailer – jam-packed with wondrous colors – has been added below.
Few times in my life have I ever come across something that genuinely startled me. The work of horror artist Melissa Patterson has done just that. Read on for a look at her creations that are so frighteningly real they have to be seen to be believed.
"I make them by buying a blank vinyl kit and painting it with GHSP, in water thin layers, and baking the doll parts in the oven between layers to set the paint," Patterson tells us of the creation process.
"I use different brushes and tools to make detailed efx like capillaries, veins, skin mottling, etc. I use glass eyes in them. Sometimes I paint the hair, and sometimes I micro root each individual strand. I also give them real lashes if it's age appropriate. It's a list of processes, really, but the look on people's face when I tell them I put babies in the oven is priceless!"
Patterson continues, "They always seem to take on a 'life' of their own. Each one I make is one of a kind, guaranteed. I usually charge $350.00 for a custom baby. I know that's a lot, but these guys aren't cheaply made in any way, and it takes 2 to 3 weeks to make each one. I don't do it for the money; I do it because it makes somebody happy and I like seeing what I can come up with next."
If you really want to freak someone out, she add, "I can also make ones that breathe and have a heartbeat!"
Check out Melissa's vampire baby, Vittoria, below. We've also included a quick look at her zombie clown (sorry, coulrophobics) prototype. For a closer look at Patterson's tamer, yet incredibly realistic work, you can visit her Pitter Patterson Nursery Facebook page and follow her on Twitter @joyoffourgirls.
YouTube user Chris Hebert sent us a link to yet another super cut inspired by Sean S. Cunningham 1980 Friday the 13th, and its iconic slasher Jason Voorhees (who first sliced and diced in the 1981 sequel).
The Vancouver BC TV & film editor shares his “Friday the 13th Supercut: Jason’s Paramount Kills,” which we’ve embedded below.
Pinnacle Films released an Australian one-sheet for Predestination, starring Ethan Hawke.
Playing the Fantasia Film Festival, the film opens overseas on August 28.
Undead and Daybreakers directors Michael and Peter Spierig direct the thriller, based on the short story “All You Zombies” by Robert Heinlein.
Starring Sinister‘s Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook and Noah Taylor, “Predestination chronicles the life of a Temporal Agent sent on an intricate series of time-travel journeys designed to ensure the continuation of his law enforcement career for all eternity. Now, on his final assignment, the Agent must recruit his younger self while pursuing the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.“
Gregory Lamberson has unveiled the covers for his next two novels from Medallion Press, The Frenzy Wolves and Human Monsters. Both are the final chapters of their respective franchises, The Frenzy Cycle and The Jake Helman Files.
The Frenzy Wolves, which will be published in October, is the third book in author/filmmaker Lamberson's The Frenzy Cycle werewolf trilogy, in which a New York police captain navigates conflict among opposing factions of werewolves and werewolf hunters in the age of terrorism.
With the aid of his elite squad of super cops, NYPD Captain Tony Mace has defeated the werewolf slayers known as the Brotherhood of Torquemada. But now a new enemy has risen to persecute the peaceful Wolves, and Tony’s loyalty to Gabriel Domini, leader of the pack, places him at odds with his department.
Gabriel’s brother, Raphael, objects to Gabriel’s efforts to integrate the Wolves into human society and seeks to start a war against mankind. When Rodrigo Gomez, the Full Moon Killer, escapes from prison, his quest for vengeance draws Tony into a battle for supremacy among the Wolves which could lead to a far greater war for both species.
Human Monsters, due out in March 2015, is the sixth and last book in the award-winning occult detective series The Jake Helman Files, which began with Personal Demons back in 2009.
"It's bittersweet to finish each series," says Lamberson. "The Frenzy books are based on a screenplay I wrote in 1986 called The Greenwich Village Monster, and I created Jake Helman in a screenplay called The Forever Man that same year, so these characters have been with me a long time. I have more stories to tell about Jake, but for now this is the end of his literary adventures."
Lamberson, who is currently adapting his zombie novella Carnage Road into a screenplay for actor Craig Sheffer, is also developing The Jake Helman Files as a possible TV series with David Tripet, who worked on such films as Leprechaun, Wishmaster, and Return of the Living Dead III as a development executive.
"Now that I've written six novels, the template exists for an edgy cable TV series," Lamberson says. "These books have all the sex, violence, and supernatural characters to make a great serialized show."
No synopsis is available for Human Monsters yet, but we'll keep our eyes open for that along with more news on the possible TV show.
Is this the face of the Devil?
Hopefully this offers a clue to when we’ll see the film here in the States as Empire shared the first teaser poster for the October 31 UK release of Horns.
“In the aftermath of his girlfriend’s mysterious death, a young man awakens to strange horns sprouting from his temples.”
Directed by Alexandre Aja (High Tension, Mirrors, Piranha 3D, The Hills Have Eyes) from Keith Bunin’s script, Horns stars Daniel Radcliffe, Max Minghella, Juno Temple, Joe Anderson, Kelli Garner and James Remar.
Bloody Disgusting’s Mike Pereira was a huge fan – read his review here – calling it “an audacious, wonderfully twisted romantic horror fantasy.”
RADiUS-TWC acquired the film for release here in the States, so expect it to be released in a similar fashion to Snowpierceer.
The situation just got deadly (yeah, they went there)…
Attack Entertainment is releasing Jersey Shore Massacre in limited theaters on August 22.
Written and directed by Paul Tarnopol, below is the theatrical one-sheet and stack of images from the pic starring Danielle Dallacco, Sal Governale, Richard Christy, Bigfoot and Ron Jeremy
In the horror comedy, “A typical weekend down the shore takes a bizarre turn in the New Jersey Pine Barrens as six girls and five obnoxious fist-pumpers become the unsuspecting targets of a deranged killer.”
Are there people who will actually see this in theaters? Seriously?
Parody music artist Weird Al has released a music video for this track “Tacky”, which is a parody of Pharrell‘s hit song “Happy”. All done in a one-shot take, the video is a comedian showcase, with appearances from Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Eric Stonestreet, Kristen Schaal and Jack Black, all singing along and dancing in their own way. You can watch the video below.
Weird Al will be releasing eight videos total, one every day starting today. You can keep up with the video releases by following Al’s Twitter.
Wild Eye Releasing, a sponsor of the PollyGrind Film Festival since 2011, has launched a new distribution label, PollyGrind Presents, in conjunction with Chad Clinton Freeman's international showcase of films. The first title, Play Hooky, will be released later this year.
Full specs will be announced shortly, but Wild Eye and PollyGrind are packing the Play Hooky DVD with bonus features, including exclusive content such as a commentary and liner notes from Freeman as well as short films hand-picked from the festival.
Below we have a look at the film's artwork, trailer, and more info on the new label.
Wild Eye CEO Rob Hauschild called PollyGrind "a brilliant, head-on collision of arthouse and grindhouse movies," and added, "Wild Eye is dedicated to giving independents like Play Hooky a position in the mainstream through traditional distribution, and PollyGrind is ground zero for discovering true independent talent."
Winner of the Most Innovative Film award at PollyGrind in 2012, Play Hooky is the perfect film to christen the partnership with Wild Eye, says Freeman. "Play Hooky is the epitome of the pioneering spirit that inspired me to found PollyGrind. It's a great example of making something out of nothing, and I'm really excited to be helping to share this film with the world."
Five high school friends skip class in hopes of finding the perfect spot to party. They chose the wrong place. Against all warnings, they break into an abandoned mental hospital, notorious for reports of ghost sightings, satanic rituals, and demonic possessions. Now, armed only with a camera, they are trapped inside, haunted and hunted by something they cannot stop, reason with, or describe. The camera captures every last breath in the fight for their lives.
UK doom band Electric Wizard has released a stream of their new track “I Am Nothing”, which comes from their upcoming 8th LP Time To Die (out September 30th via Spinefarm Records).
Singer/guitarist Jus Oborn states:
 was the year I became a metal-head. It was heavy shit for real – there was no way you were ever going to get a decent job. So I became a Satanist, I dug up a grave, I got into tape trading, I had a one-man noise/black/death metal band called Regurgitated Guts, and there were loads of documentaries on TV warning us not to listen to the devil’s music…
You can listen to “I Am Nothing” below (courtesy of Noisey.
Starz Digital Media is set to release the award-winning horror film Septic Man (read our review) this summer.
The film will be available On Demand and for digital download August 12 and will have a limited theatrical run on August 15. The DVD will be available August 19.
From the creators of Monster Brawl, Exit Humanity, and 2014’s Hellmouth and Ejecta, Septic Man dazzled audiences at the 2013 Fantastic Fest where its star Jason David Brown (Exit Humanity) won “Best Actor” in a horror feature. The film also garnered a prize at Toronto After Dark 2013.
“Septic Man follows Jack, a sewage worker who is determined to uncover the cause of the town’s water contamination crisis. During his investigation, he becomes trapped underground in a septic tank and undergoes a hideous transformation. He must team up with a docile Giant and confront a murdering madman in order to escape.”
Septic Man was directed by Jesse Thomas Cook (Monster Brawl) and written by Tony Burgess (PontyPool). It co-stars Molly Dunsworth (Bunker 6, Hobo with a Shotgun) and Robert Maillet (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones).
With the trailer set to premiere during the San Diego Comic-Con, EW landed the below first look at “The Walking Dead” Season 5.
The entire cast and crew will be on hand in Hall H on Friday, July 25th from 12:20pm-1:20pm, where the trailer will initially debut.
Panelists include: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Chad Coleman, Michael Cudlitz, Executive Producer and Showrunner Scott Gimple, Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Executive Producer Robert Kirkman, Executive Producer and Special Effects Make-up Supervisor Greg Nicotero and Executive Producer David Alpert.
An autograph session will be held later at booth #4237 that same day from 1:50-2:50pm.
The airplane lands, you and your family get your luggage and the rental car, and head to the hotel. After checking in, you rush to be the first in line for the newly opened Jurassic World. After paying your $120 a person (John Hammond always envisioned the park as affordable, you see), you and the fam speed-walk towards the entrance and have your tickets scanned. Upon entry you’re all handed a park map/brochure that details all of the park’s services, events and attractions. Below is that brochure, being used in Universal Pictures’ now-filming Jurassic Park sequel!
Easily one of the coolest prop image leaks in a long time, Twitter user @jurassicp2k15 shared a breakdown of said brochure that details all of the fun you’ll be having in Jurassic World come June 12, 2015.
Beware of spoilers as there’s all sorts of information like a tease that Jimmy Fallon hosts an instructional video for the Gyrosphere interactive ride!
Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Jake Johnson all star.
I would do just about anything to get my hands on one of these…
Forget Route 666. The Devil’s Mile is an even more evil stretch of road in this new horror thriller starring David Hayter and directed by Joseph O’Brien, with whom we recently had a chance to chat about the film.
Devil's Mile follows a trio of kidnappers who take an ill-advised detour (is there any other kind?) en route to deliver their hostages – a pair of teenage girls - to their mysterious employer. When one of the girls dies along the way, the trio’s slowly-boiling mistrust explodes into chaos.
But what they thought was their worst day ever is only beginning as they are engulfed by the hellish forces that haunt the road - a road they may never escape.
Dread Central: This is one of the few indie horror movies that really lives up to the promo material. I'm curious to know how much the story evolved from your initial idea to script to shooting and final edit. Did different aspects of the story come to the fore more as it progressed?
Joseph O'Brien: That's very nice of you to say; thank you. It's greatly appreciated. The basic spine of the story – a group of people become trapped on a road haunted by supernatural forces – was always there. Originally the characters were just regular folks on a road trip, but that felt mundane and done to death. I'd seen it before. You'd seen it before. And I was writing a moment where one of characters opens the trunk and thought, 'What if there were two girls tied up inside?' And it clicked. This isn't a horror movie; it's a crime thriller that evolves into a horror movie! They're two of my favorite genres, and the idea of combining them really appealed to me. It energized the story and opened up a lot of narrative possibilities. Once I started exploring the idea of a hybrid genre, it became very important to make sure that I didn't just swap one for another. The crime thriller had to inform the horror movie and the horror movie had to transform the crime thriller. Tonally they had to feel like a single story, not two stories bashed together.
The movie did change and develop in the making of it, all of it positively I think, but it was more in terms of the feel of the movie than the content. I had originally envisioned Devil’s Mile as more of a straight-up exploitation film, a bit more hyperbolic. It changed a bit once we were cast. The dramatic scenes played straighter and more intensely than I had expected – all credit due to the actors for taking the material as seriously as they did. But it also a got a bit funnier and a lot stranger.
I think the biggest tonal shift came when I dropped two scenes – partly for scheduling reasons, but also because the film was coming together and I realized they weren't essential. They were arguably the two most overtly stock “horror” scenes in the script, in the sense that they were there to be scary for their own sake, but they didn't push the story forward, and while I don't miss them narratively, it definitely tilted the balance. And then of course Chris Alexander created this fantastic, evocative score that unified all the elements into a single entity.
DC: When did David Hayter come on board? It's almost as though this part was written with him in mind.
DOB: We first talked to David while the script was being finalized. I had been a fan of his work for many years, and we had been recently introduced by a mutual friend. David had started out as an actor, but that career was kind of sidelined when he became a writer of Hollywood blockbusters, the poor guy. By complete coincidence, he was also childhood friends with my producing partner, Mark Opausky, and when we were thinking about actors who could play Toby, I suggested David. I knew he still had the acting bug, and I thought his intensity and personality could really lend something to the part – and I was right. Mark sent him the script and he responded very strongly to the character of Toby. He arrived on set with a very clear idea of what he wanted to do with the character, and he very much made Toby his own. On the page Toby was a slightly more thuggish character, and David brought a charm and humor and nuance to him that I really liked. It created an interesting contrast to his more violent moments and made them even more shocking, I think.
DC: How'd the rest of your cast come together? The female leads are particularly good, and they all mesh so well.
DOB: Maria Del Mar and I worked together on a miniseries I had written a number of years ago, and I had always wanted to do another project with her. When we were in the early stages of putting the movie together, she had mentioned – on Facebook of all places – that she was looking for something different to do. So I messaged her about Devil’s Mile – not really expecting her to respond – and to my surprise and delight she asked to see the script. She read it and committed a full year before we rolled cameras on the movie, for which I am eternally in her debt.
Casey Hudecki, what a discovery she turned out to be. I knew her a little bit through a group of actors and writers and creative people that we both hung out with. She was brimming with potential – a terrific stage actor, fight director, and stuntperson – but she had never been in a movie before. We screen tested her with Maria – they had immediate chemistry – and she just lit up the screen. After that we didn't even consider anyone else. It was Casey all the way. And Casey being Casey, she exceeded our very high expectations at every turn. She was there every day of the shoot, not just acting but also choreographing the fights and getting yanked through the air on a jerk harness. She kicks ass.
Samantha Wan and Amanda Joy Lim came to us through the audition process. Casting Suki and Kanako was the scariest and most challenging part of putting the movie together. They're smaller parts but they're pivotal to the story and they have unique very specific requirements; we looked at a lot of people and couldn't quite nail it down. Then Sam and Amy walked through the door, and it was like the characters had come to life in front of me. The first day makeup effects designer Allan Cooke came to set and saw them in costume, he walked over to me and said, 'They look exactly the way I pictured them when I read the script!'
Frank Moore and Craig Porritt, who play Mr. Arkadi and The Caretaker, respectively, also auditioned. In contrast to Amy and Sam, they were very different from the characters as I had envisioned them, but their interpretations were so much stronger and nuanced than what I had in mind, I literally couldn't see the characters the same way again.
DC: When it comes to adding CGI to the supernatural aspects of the film, would you describe how you decided how much to use, and how much is practical?
DOB: I'm an 80s guy; I love prosthetics and special makeup effects. I've got my well-worn copy of Grande Illusions signed by Tom Savini on my bookshelf. And I knew when we were making this that I wanted to have a real, physical monster. The Kanako demon is a full-body prosthetic, sculpted and built by Allan Cooke and worn by Shara Kim, that we photographed live on set. But I also needed her to have an unreal, unsettling quality, so I treated that footage with digital effects to take it out of the strictly physical realm and into something more ghost-like. So it's more of a computer-enhanced image than a computer-generated one. On balance I would say it's actually about 95% practical – what you see on screen in mostly real.
I love visual effects, both practical and digital, and every technique has its virtues and its drawbacks. But audiences – and particularly genre audiences – are so savvy about these things that they sometimes experience and appreciate the technique over the dramatic effect that technique is trying to convey. I know because I do it myself. So I definitely wanted to disguise the technique and do something unexpected, and like the story, I chose to deploy a hybrid approach that would blur the lines a bit. It's scarier that way, too, because you don't quite know precisely what you're seeing happen.
DC: Since you'd only directed one short (according to that pillar of accuracy, IMDb.com) before this feature, can you talk a little bit about some of the unexpected things that came up making a full-length film?
DOB: Well, I've worked in various capacities – credited and uncredited – in feature films for close to twenty years. I've been a production assistant and I've been a development executive and I've had jobs at all points in between, which turned out to be ideal preparation for directing because even if I haven't specifically done someone's job, I'm familiar enough with it to be able to effectively communicate with the person who is doing it. Just being able to do that gives you a much greater awareness of the set and a more granular control of delegation to the crew.
The one thing I still haven't figured out how to control is the weather. We shot on a tight budget and a tight schedule, and we got rained out of a location before we could finish a key scene in the movie – the moment where we first reveal the demon, which happened to be the only scene I had actually storyboarded. And when we got back together to pick it up – months later, in a completely different location – we got rained out again. The scene was fucking cursed, but there was no way we could do without it, and this was absolutely our last chance to get it. We wound up shooting this critical night exterior inside a parking garage with an eight-foot ceiling, which meant all my storyboards went out the window and I had to rethink the entire scene on the spot. It was a nightmare. It took every scrap of learning I had had up to that point, an incredibly dedicated crew, and a couple of very resourceful and clever producers to pull it together and make that scene happen.
DC: Who are some of your favorite independent horror filmmakers, and which movies of your peers inspire you the most?
DOB: The two biggest influences on Devil’s Mile were my two favorite directors, Mario Bava and John Carpenter. They're both thought of as horror filmmakers, but they actually have quite diverse filmographies. I definitely had Bava's Rabid Dogs (a.k.a. Kidnapped) in mind when I was writing the early scenes when everyone's in the car, and his use of vivid color to convey the supernatural in Kill Baby Kill and Black Sabbath consciously informed the palette of the night scenes. A lot of my love of Carpenter's Prince of Darkness bled through here, consciously and unconsciously. And PoD is itself Carpenter's tribute to one of my favorite writers, Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale (who is essentially the godfather of genre-smashing). When I was writing the script, my imaginary version of the cast was Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrienne Barbeau, and Kurt Russell, all circa 1981.
In terms of people making movies currently, I really dug Nicholas McCarthy's The Pact and Mike Flanagan's Absentia. Both of those guys took tiny budgets and made strong, character-driven, genuinely frightening movies that both satisfied the expectations of the genre while at the same time delivering something fresh – I haven't yet seen their respective followups, Home/At The Devil's Door and Oculus yet, but I'm really looking forward to them. And I loved the way Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard made You're Next funny without being self-congratulatory or self-referential, in a way that it enhanced the scares instead of undermining them, and that's really, really hard to get right. When I see guys that young and that talented knocking it out of the park like that, I don't if I'm so much 'inspired' as I am 'terrified that I'm late to the party,' but it certainly motivates me.
DC: What is your favorite "road horror" movie?
DOB: It's a great little subgenre, with some interesting films to show for it... one that speaks to me, obviously. John Dahl's Joy Ride is a personal favorite and quite underrated. Ditto Richard Franklin's Road Games. And The Hitcher, the original, is a genuinely nightmarish thriller with a mean streak a mile wide. But for me it all goes back to seeing Duel on TV as a kid (and many, many time subsequently). A script by Richard Matheson at the peak of his powers, directed by Steven Spielberg at his hungriest moment – an unbeatable combination. There's an elegant simplicity to that movie that I don't think has ever been matched. Just Dennis Weaver on an endless stretch of highway being chased by a giant truck, stripped-down, terrifying, and pure. Doesn't get better.
Look for the indie thriller Devil's Mile on August 12th on both DVD and VOD outlets!
Joining David Hayter and Casey Hudecki on this terrifying journey are Maria Del Mar ("24", Terminal City, Jekyll + Hyde) and Frank Moore (best known to genre fans for his lead role in David Cronenberg’s Rabid, opposite the late Marilyn Chambers) as crime lord Mr. Arkadi, whose machinations set the sinister events of Devil’s Mile in motion.
A gang of psychotic convicts take a dangerous and ill-advised detour after brutally kidnapping two young girls. As the captors speed away, events quickly turn out to be much more dangerous and gruesome than they had planned for. While driving down a long and dark stretch of deserted highway, the car becomes surrounded by mysterious sinister spirits, forcing the captors and young girls to work together in hopes of surviving the deadly evil force.
Novel adaption ‘Mark of Kane’ gets new teaser poster ahead of Fantasia Market
Ahead of the Fantasia Frontieres Co-Production Market, a new teaser poster has just been released for Mark of Kane, the feature-film adaption of New York Times bestselling-author Michael Prescott’s horror novel “Kane” (originally published as Douglas Borton).
The poster is by prolific designer Omar Hauksson (The Raid 1 & 2, Proxy, Stage Fright, Resolution).
“Kane is a force of nature. Walking out of the desert into the dying town of Tuskett, which only 23 people still call home, he has only one purpose: to kill every resident. Relentless, stealthy, and without mercy, Kane won’t stop until every last man, woman and child is nothing but a memory. Soon the surviving townspeople must band together to fight this seemingly-unstoppable evil, or die trying. Brutal, action-packed, and most importantly, character-driven, Mark of Kane is a thrilling story of survival at any cost.“
Mark of Kane is one of the ‘Off-Frontieres’ Selections at Fantasia Film Festival’s upcoming Frontieres International Co-Production Market. The adaption is co-scripted by Serena Whitney and Justin McConnell. Whitney and McConnell also co-produce, along with Canadian-producer Avi Federgreen (Still Mine, One Week, High Life). The team is rounded out by two highly-respected genre directors, who currently serve as consulting producers: Adam Mason (Blood River, The Devil’s Chair, Broken), and George Mihalka (My Bloody Valentine, 24 Hour Rental). A director has yet to be named.
It seems like in 90 percent of the found-footage reviews I write, I find myself complaining about the same things. Luckily, this entry from young UK writer/director/star Drew Casson manages to take an inventive spin on the genre while only dipping into tired cliches a few times. Hungerford is wildly ambitious and despite its tight budget, Casson was able to make it feel like a large-scale end of the world, alien invasion film. Speaking as someone who has to watch a lot of bad found footage movies, I can honestly say Hungerford makes for a refreshing and charming take on the genre.
Set in the titular town of Hungerford, the film follows Cowen (played by Casson) as he documents his life for a school project. His life basically entails partying with his roommates and trying to remember what happened the night before. It’s not a very interesting video diary, until an alien invasion goes down in body snatcher form. Then his video diary begins to kick ass. If I was his teacher, I’d probably give him a bold A+.
We’re with Cowen and his friends for the entire film, so thankfully their relationships and banter feel very organic. The dialogue is believable and sounds like the shit you’d hear a bunch of twenty-somethings rap about during a horrific alien invasion. There’s some real depth and drama to the characters too, which adds a ton of weight as far as actually caring about them goes. There’s a loose romance set up between Cowen and another character that adds a real punch later on when shit goes down.
One of the wise choices the film makes is to show us everything. Too often in found-footage are we only shown glimpses of the creature, villain, etc., and it’s usually in a dark room so we can’t actually see anything. That can be effective, of course, but it’s so overdone it’s rare for that technique to conjure up scares anymore. Casson sets his film mainly during the day and gives us full-on shots of the baddies. It works well and gives the carnage a bit of a Shaun of the Dead feel. Some of the scares don’t really work, but it’s still great that the camera never flinches away.
The “film everything” logic does stumble a bit when the kids commit a heinous crime, so it’s best to suspense disbelief for that scene.
One cliche the film does perform is setting much of the climax in a dark room (like I mentioned before). It’s tough to see much of anything, the camerawork turns jarring, and it’s simply not as effective as the rest of the film. The ending is also one were fairly accustomed to by now. It would’ve been cool to see some more of the creativity displayed earlier come up for the climax.
Despite these found footage shortcomings and some stifled acting, Hungerford is an admirable and lively entry to the genre. There’s some real feeling behind the film and it certainly shows. It’ll be interesting to see what young Casson could pull off with a healthier budget.
Gravitas Ventures just released the official theatrical trailer for the Sundance thriller Jamie Marks Is Dead, which was directed by The Ruins‘ Carter Smith. It will open on VOD and in limited theaters .August 29.
In the pic, “Fifteen-year-old Adam McCormick’s life hasn’t been the same since classmate Gracie Highsmith found Jamie Marks’s dead body at the edge of the river. The town is shocked, but as speculation swirls, it becomes clear that they knew as little about Jamie as they do about the circumstances surrounding his death. Adam becomes fixated on Jamie’s death, and gradually a deep bond develops between the living teenager and the dead boy’s ghost. Their unlikely friendship provides Adam with the support and friendship he needs as the rest of the world falls apart. But the more attached Adam becomes to Jamie’s ghost, the weaker his ties to reality become. As he struggles with the real-world relationships, Adam is forced to rediscover what it means to be alive.”
Cameron Monaghan, Noah Silver, Morgan Saylor, Judy Greer, Madisen Beaty and Liv Tyler star.
Ryan Daley was not a fan out of the premiere.
One of the biggest movie events of the year kicks off a week from Wednesday in San Diego, CA.
Are you ready for the annual San Diego Comic-Con, the largest comic convention on the planet? As usual, Bloody Disgusting will be on hand delivering LIVE updates for 5 straight days of madness. While comics have taken a backseat to big studio movies (that aren’t even comic related), we celebrate the madness that brings us hundreds of first looks at Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.
Horror hasn’t exactly been recognized at the event, but we’ll be digging deep to find everything genre. So, keep your eyes planted here and we’ll make sure you get it ALL at one place, Bloody Disgusting.
PREVIEW NIGHT: WEDNESDAY, JULY 23rd 6pm – 10pm
SNEAK PREVIEW SCREENINGS (Ballroom 20): Comic-Con International and Warner Bros. Television proudly continue their annual Preview Night tradition, with exclusive world premiere screenings of the pilot episodes of three of the most highly anticipated series of the 2014-15 television season — The Flash, Constantine, and iZombie — as well as a brand new episode of Teen Titans Go!
Constantine – John Constantine is a man waging war against the forces of darkness-from both within himself and the outside world. An irreverent, working-class con man and occult expert, he’s an experienced exorcist and demonologist with an extensive list of supernatural contacts, each with their own paranormal talents and abilities. Following the aftermath of a tragic incident, Constantine has voluntarily checked himself into an asylum and sworn off investigating matters of the supernatural, but when a cryptic message calls him out to reluctantly resume his old life, he finds himself saving the life of a young woman whom he’s never met but to whom he is connected to in a very important way. With dark forces gathering power in the world, Constantine allies himself with Manny, a rogue warrior angel, and Chas, his giant childhood protector-and the only friend who’s managed to stay alive. Based on characters published by DC Entertainment, Constantine reflects the lore of the fan-favorite comic, combining noirish storytelling with the evolving mythology of John Constantine, a morally challenged character who doesn’t come down on the side of either good or evil…but ultimately might be the only thing defending us against the dark forces from beyond. The series stars Matt Ryan (Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior), Harold Perrineau (Lost), and Charles Halford (True Detective) and is executive produced by Daniel Cerone (Dexter) and David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight trilogy). From Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television, Constantine will air Fridays at 10/9c on NBC this fall, premiering October 24.
iZombie – Olivia “Liv” Moore, a 25-year-old medical resident, is on the fast track to a perfect life…until she’s turned into a zombie. Now stuck somewhere between half-alive and undead, Liv loses all traces of her former drive and ambition. She transfers her medical residency to the city morgue in order to reluctantly access the only real form of sustenance left available to her-and the only thing that allows her to maintain her humanity-human brains. But there are side effects to Liv’s new diet: With each brain she consumes, Liv experiences “visions”-flashes of the corpse’s memories-including, in some cases, clues as to how they were killed. The series stars Rose McIver (Once Upon a Time), Malcolm Goodwin (Breakout Kings), Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley (One Tree Hill), David Anders (Heroes) and Nora Dunn (Entourage), and is executive produced by Veronica Mars veterans Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggiero-Wright, Danielle Stokdyk, and Dan Etheridge. From Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Spondoolie Productions and Warner Bros. Television and based on characters created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, published by DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint, iZombie premieres midseason on The CW.
ON THE NEXT PAGE: DAY 1: THURSDAY, JULY 24