I haven’t really dug the releases of Foresight Features, the Canadian production company responsible for Monster Brawl and Septic Man. Their latest venture, Hellmouth, piqued my interest since it comes from Pontypool writer Tony Burgess and stars the reliable Stephen McHattie, who’s always a welcome face on screen. The 67-year-old actor kills it in every role he takes on – from big productions like The Fountain to smaller outings like Pontypool and A History of Violence, McHattie always brings the heat.
In Hellmouth he plays Charlie Baker, a terminally ill cemetery caretaker who’s forced to travel into the inferno to take on his own personal demons and rescue the soul of a beautiful woman. The film is meant to be a throwback to 1950s horror, combining gothic adventure with CGI-laden backgrounds and characters. For the most part, the visuals are very potent, particularly during the black-and-white-heavy first act. The cemetery Baker works at is steeped in shadows and eerie contrast (à la Sin City) – the perfect stage for a little throwback fun.
As the film progresses, the visuals get worse and worse. This was the perfect opportunity to deliver some face-crushing demon designs, but instead the ones on screen are pretty damn boring and kinda cheap. Luckily, the visuals always serve McHattie. It’s meant to be like his fever dream – a heightened reality from hell he’s traveling through. This background noise never detracts from McHattie’s phenomenal, commanding performance.
Baker’s worked his whole life as a gravedigger and caretaker. On the cusp of retiring to sunny Florida, his boss informs him that he has to keep working at another, even more isolated cemetery. If he refuses, they take away his pension. When he travels to this other cemetery, the tale begins twisting and turning into fields that don’t always feel coherent. A few scenes and scenarios feel tacked on (there’s an escaped convict interjection that feels terribly out of place) and some of it is downright confusing. I never expected the nether regions of Hell to make a whole lotta sense, but some cohesiveness in Hellmouth’s story would’ve been appreciated. It’s not entirely a cluster-fuck, but this bastard’s all over the place at times.
All of this confusion follows a lengthy expositional scene in which a local sheriff explains the history of the other gravediggers to Baker. Despite making the film drag, this scene’s pretty cool and features cameos from Julian Richings (Cube) and Pontypool director Bruce McDonald. Ultimately the film suffers under both its heavy exposition and muddled second half. McHattie does a terrific job anchoring the film where he can, but in the end Hellmouth is damned by its unfocused ambition.
This Halloween saw the long-awaited US premiere of Horns, the big-screen adaptation of Joe Hill’s acclaimed novel about Ig Perrish, a young man who suddenly sprouts a pair of devil horns following the grisly murder of his beloved lady friend Merrin. Equal parts twisted fairytale, Twin Peaks-style murder mystery and pitch-black horror comedy, Horns is helmed by extreme-horror icon Alexandre Aja (Piranha, The Hills Have Eyes) and stars Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame, who seems to be carving out a solid niche for himself in the horror genre with roles in Hammer’s The Woman in Black and an intriguing new screen adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Front-and-center in nearly every scene, Radcliffe shoulders the dramatic and comic weight of Horns in arguably his bravest screen role to date – one which will no doubt shock fans only familiar with his relatively kid-friendly Potter persona.
I had the good fortune to chat with Radcliffe on the eve of Horns‘ stateside premiere, where he talked about the challenges of playing such an unusual character, and his ongoing interest in the horror genre.
BD: I was amazed by your performance in Horns. It’s such a departure from anything you’ve ever done before.
RADCLIFFE: Thank you very much! I’m really very proud of it. It was an incredible film, and I’m so happy with the way it came out.
Ig is such a horribly tormented character from the outset… he must have been a challenge to play.
Yes, especially because the film starts off at a very intense pitch, and emotionally it just goes up from there. The nature of the horns, the way they force people to reveal their darkest truths… sure, it’s all good fun when Ig’s in a hospital surrounded by comparative strangers, but when we get into the scenes with his mom and dad, his brother, and other people he loves and trusts, it becomes really gut-wrenching to have those things revealed. There’s something about the situation where you want to give every scene its requisite emotional weight, but there’s such a graduation of intensity from one scene to the next; for example, when Ig’s mother tells him she doesn’t want to see him again, I couldn’t actually let him be too wracked with grief at that moment, because in the very next scene we learn his father thinks he’s a murderer.
Do you feel the thread of humor in the story helps to temper that raw emotional aspect?
Oh, definitely. I think when people go to the cinema, we’re to a certain extent desensitized to the way characters react to crazy, horrific things; they often respond in a way that seems perfectly natural. In the new Godzilla, for example… apart from Bryan Cranston, it seems that the characters were reacting to the monster like, “Oh look, there’s Godzilla,” like they were totally used to the idea. But in the movie The One I Love, people do very much the opposite, reacting to crazy situations like normal human beings: they’re freaking out, just trying desperately to make sense of it. That kind of reaction is where a lot of the comedy in Horns comes from. Ig reacts to the horns by freaking out and wondering if he’s actually going insane, while everyone he meets seems perfectly okay with them. It’s kind of heartbreaking, but it’s also very funny.
Had you read Joe Hill’s novel prior to taking the role?
Not beforehand, but after I read the script and met Alex [Aja], I knew I had to do it, and I read the novel after that. It’s such a fantastic book. Some elements of the story were moved around – as you often must do – but the spirit of Joe’s story is unmistakably present. I think fans of the book will really enjoy the movie.
Did you draw from elements of the book in developing your character?
Yeah, the great thing about playing a character based on a book is that you have a whole world of resources at your disposal in doing your research, as it were, and I looked for things that I felt could illuminate the character more for the audience. I found it useful to do that early on, but once you start filming, it helps to actually dispose of that approach; you don’t want to be the guy who’s still bringing the book in on day 40 of the shoot, saying “This scene isn’t supposed to happen this way!”
It does diverge from the book in terms of the murder mystery, for obvious reasons…
Yeah, particularly when it comes to the killer’s backstory. Early in the book, you see a lot of this character’s home life and inner life that isn’t shown in the movie. I think it’s necessary to omit that, because otherwise the guessing game would have been over a lot earlier for the audience.
You’re no stranger to working with all kinds of special effects, but you were covered in some really heavy prosthetics toward the finale. How long did you spend in makeup to become the demon?
Believe it or not, it only took about two hours! Mike McCarthy and Mike Fields, who did my prosthetic work every day, were just amazing. I mean, if they had achieved what they did in four hours would have been incredible, but to do it in two? That was just ridiculous. I’ve never seen anyone work that fast and do such fantastic work before. When you’re an actor used to doing that kind of prosthetic work, how good those artists are at their jobs can often determine how good or bad your day is going to be, and I was so lucky to have been working with them.
Even though it’s an elaborate makeup, it never obscures your performance.
That was definitely one of Alex’s concerns. After designing such a dramatic look for that scene, they wanted to be sure they could still actually see me, so that the audience could still have a connection to the character. That’s why I really like that part of the film, because by this stage, if you get used to seeing an actor’s face and suddenly that’s replaced with an unrecognizable visual effect, you’re not going to be as emotionally involved.
Have you had much feedback from your fans about the film? It’s a radical departure from anything you’ve done before.
I’ve been getting some really great reactions. For example, recently I was told that Horns is kind of the “Anti-Harry Potter!” I don’t know if that’s quite true, because Ig is also a very good person as well – despite having done some highly questionable things. It’s such a crazy story, and probably not like anything they’ve ever seen recently, but I think there’s always a hunger for that, so… so far so good!
You’ve spent a lot of time in the horror genre lately, between Horns and The Woman in Black, and the new Frankenstein coming out next year. Can you give us any insight on that project?
Frankenstein was very interesting, because of all of the history behind it. While it’s a classic within the horror genre, I would classify this version as an adventure movie with horror elements, with lots of nods to the many previous incarnations of Frankenstein. I’ve seen a very rough version recently, and I’m very happy with it; it’s exciting and fun.
How do you like working in horror in comparison to the pure fantasy of the Harry Potter films?
What I love about horror is how it gives you a chance to explore some very significant themes while having a fun and compelling story on top. For example, The Woman in Black is about a guy dealing with grief, and searching for proof of the afterlife because it will give him some semblance of hope that his wife is still out there in some form or another… but it’s also an hour and a half of getting the shit scared out of you by a ghost. Horns deals with the sense of being an outsider, and of losing someone we love, but it’s also a revenge thriller about a guy with supernatural powers. I love working on a film where both of those aspects are in play at the same time.
On Halloween, horror legend John Carpenter released a stream of “Vortex”, the first track from his upcoming album Lost Themes, which comes out February 3rd on Sacred Bones Records. The track was released through Sacred Bones’ website and featured video clips from several of Carpenter’s film over the years, all of which cycled randomly, creating a unique experience for every visitor. You can enjoy your own experience here.
Jason von Doom, the creator of the “Vortex” video loop, states:
The page takes a bunch of scenes from various John Carpenter films and turns them into a unique video each visit. It was built along with CASH Music, a nonprofit that builds free and open technology for musicians. We start with a list of favorite clips, pull them in a random order, then vary the length of each edit to bring a more unique feel to each visit. Watch long enough and you’ll see the best Kurt Russell movie never made.
Read on for a stream of “Vortex”, a quote from Carpenter, and more.
Carpenter explains Lost Themes:
‘Lost Themes’ was all about having fun. It can be both great and bad to score over images, which is what I’m used to. Here there were no pressures. No actors asking me what they’re supposed to do. No crew waiting. No cutting room to go to. No release pending. It’s just fun. And I couldn’t have a better set-up at my house, where I depended on (collaborators) Cody (Carpenter, of the band Ludrium) and Daniel (Davies, who scored I, Frankenstein) to bring me ideas as we began improvising. The plan was to make my music more complete and fuller, because we had unlimited tracks. I wasn’t dealing with just analogue anymore. It’s a brand new world. And there was nothing in any of our heads when we started other than to make it moody.
Both classical music and rock and roll are part of my musical language, which is riff-driven. So if you listen carefully, I’m sure you can hear some echoes from my past. But I’m sure that’s true of any composer. You just bring your music along with you.
It’s Monday and our resident video game expert is here to woo your ear canals with some sexy tunage! That’s right, Adam Dodd has whipped up a list of songs that he’s been blasting and he wants to share them with you so that you can join in on his funky exploits. Head on in to give everything a listen!
“This is our gig, Fuck Bombers…”
Sion Sono is a madman and had directed some incredible films over the past few years. Remember Cold Fish? Yup. How about Suicide Club? Yeah, that’s the same Sono!
Next up in his infinite madness is the Drafthouse Films release of Why Don’t You Play In Hell, hitting theaters on November 7.
Check out this exclusive clip that lets the limbs go flying!
The film begins when “an amateur production crew and a Yakuza boss as they attempt to make a movie amid the decade-long war between two rival crime lords.”
Jun Kunimura, Fumi Nikaidô, and Shin’ichi Tsutsumi star.
Variety reports that [REC] co-director Jaume Balagueró will direct Muse, a supernatural thriller that marks his return to English-language genre 12 years after his Miramax/Dimension breakout Darkness, co-starring a young Anna Paquin, grossed $22.2 million at the U.S. box office.
Also written by Balaguero and Spanish scribe Fernando Navarro, “Muse turns on Salomon, who has been off work since the tragic death off his girlfriend. Now, anxious to return to some semblance of normality, he goes back to his job as a police officer. But he hasn’t slept for months and has been suffering a recurring nightmare in which a woman is brutally murdered.
Back at work, the nightmare becomes a reality: the same woman who appears every night in his dreams is found dead in exactly the same circumstances. Now, Salomon will do whatever he can to solve this case and to discover the identity of the mystery woman.”
“This is just the kind of story that has always fascinated me, as a movie-goer and as a director. The combination of the supernatural, seduction, macabre rituals and love is an explosive one and has all the elements required to make a truly terrifying movie,” Balagueró said.
Muse is set up at Julio Fernandez’s Barcelona-based Filmax Ent., which has produced all of Balagueró’s movies since feature debut The Nameless, including Sleep Tight and the four-pic [REC] franchise. Filmax International will present it to buyers at the American Film Market. Julio Fernandez is producing.
Paramount’s moving forward on its thriller Annihilation, tapping Ex Machina writer-director Alex Garland to adapt the script and direct the project, says Variety.
The studio and Scott Rudin acquired movie rights to Jeff VanderMeer’s “The Southern Reach” trilogy last year. The first book, “Annihilation,” was published in March. It was followed by “Authority” in May and “Acceptance” in September.
Rudin and Eli Bush are producing Annihilation, which “centers on a biologist seeking answers about her husband’s disappearance in an enivironmental disaster areas sealed off by the government for the last 30 years.”
Garland’s writing credits also include 28 Days Later, Dredd and Sunshine.
Following Cannes-competing Only God Forgives, Gaumont and Wild Bunch are set to re-team on Nicolas Winding Refn’s horror film The Neon Demon.
Variety reports that the two Paris-based powerhouses will co-finance and co-distribute the movie, kicking off pre-sales at the AFM.
A horror tale toplined by a soon-to-be-announced female star, The Neon Demon is penned by Refn and Mary Laws.
“One morning I woke and realized I was both surrounded and dominated by women. Strangely, a sudden urge was planted in me to make a horror film about vicious beauty,” said Refn about the origins of the movie. “After making ‘Drive’ and falling madly in love with the electricity of Los Angeles, I knew I had to return to tell the story of ‘The Neon Demon.’”
Principal photography is set to begin in the first quarter of 2015 and will be filmed in L.A.
She’s not back because she never left…
We landed the exclusive new poster debut for The Woman In Black 2: Angel of Death, the sequel to the hit 2012 haunted house film that starred Daniel Radcliffe.
The fright sequel, directed by Tom Harper and stars Jeremy Irvine and Helen McCrory, takes place in the same house 40 years later when a group of children who are evacuated from London during World War II come to stay and awaken the house’s darkest inhabitants.
It opens in theaters January 2, 2015.
“During the London bombings of World War II, school teachers Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) and Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory) lead a group of children in evacuation to Crythin Gifford, a remote village outside of the city. When the group takes up residence at the Eel Marsh House, 40 years after Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) investigated the first haunting, Eve soon realizes they are not alone. The longer they stay in the house, the more the awful past of the residence unravels itself and the evil spirit that lurks around them threatens the well-being of the children. With the help of a pilot (Jeremy Irvine), Eve does all that she can to protect the children and discover the truth behind the Woman in Black.”
Metal Sucks is stating that they have received a press release that states Static-X vocalist Wayne Richard Wells, aka Wayne Static, passed away in his sleep and that his death was not the result of a drug overdose, as many had speculated.
The press release that Metal Sucks received reads:
HOLLYWOOD, CA (November 1, 2014) – Today is a sad day in the music industry – Front-man and founding member WAYNE STATIC of STATIC-X passed away quietly in his sleep at his home last night.
The couple was getting ready to leave for a Fall/Winter tour this morning. They were to have left the night before on Halloween, but decided they would head out early in the morning November 1st.
The couple, known for partying heavy, had left hard drugs in 2009 and had not touched them since. Static’s first solo album – Pighammer – was a tribute to his new non-drug life and hoped it would help others to get clean from hard chemical drugs.
More official information about his passing will be released in the following days. This is not a drug related incident or an O. D. Please be courteous to his family and wife and leave positive messages
I want to make it clear that I have not received this press release, so I cannot confirm this. No matter what, we still mourn the loss of Wells, who died at age 48. He leaves behind wife Tera Wray.
This week, Don and Justin kick November off with a review of the new movie Nightcrawler (*spoiler warning*), and the new game Sunset Overdrive. Also, now that Hallowen’s passed, portmortems on both Alien: Isolation and The Evil Within, and, finally, a little Shadow Warrior talk to round things out.
NECA released close-up shots capture Aliens Series 3’s ‘Kane’ as he attempts to reason with the little Alien that’s just melted through his helmet and is giving his face a friendly hug.
From 1979’s Alien, Kane in Nostromo Spacesuit is fully articulated and comes in special 35th Anniversary packaging.
I just need Ripley, the Alien Queen and the Power Loader…
Check out the first detailed looks below (and yes, the helmet comes off).
Pepsi Max is pushing out a new campaign revolving around “unbelievable experiences” – those moments that make you do a double take. Those moments that stop you in your tracks, and make you question reality.
They used Halloween as a launching point for said campaign, and churned out one of the coolest prank videos in recent memory.
Using face tracking technology, those who hit the restroom (and actually washed their hands) would be pranked when their face turned into some sort of monster. Thus the video name, “Monster Mirror.”
Joseph B. Carlin of Transfixion Films recently directed 5 fake Public Service Announcements that satirize the PSA ‘formula’ — show something scary or disturbing, abrupt cuts, use statistics and simple commands and questions.
They ride the line between horror and dark comedy and warn us against everything from mirrors to baths.
Bloody-Disgusting has teamed up with Australian metal band Our Last Enemy to bring you the exclusive lyric video premiere of “Wolves Of Perigord”, which comes from their 2014 album Pariah. The song deals with a story that is incredibly reminiscent of the 2001 film Brotherhood Of The Wolf where a pack of wolves terrorized a French region by the name of Perigord in 1766.
Head below for this exclusive premiere!
The band states:
We originally found the idea for ‘Wolves of Perigord’ by looking up animal attacks online that we would then send to each other. One day we stumbled across this story of these wolves which plagued a region called ‘Perigord’ in France back in 1766. They killed 18 people and even King Louis put out a reward for their death.
We found a lot of similarities between the band and a pack of wolves – constantly traveling, terrorizing and moving on from town to town, only being able to rely on each other and in the case of the wolves of Perigord, persecuted for doing what comes naturally to them, which it can feel like in a band at times.
What’s funny, is that the region of Perigord is no more, but the wolves are still remembered and some of them are stuffed in a museum, yet all the people who hunted and killed them are dead and forgotten. Who really won?
This song came together the quickest on the record, and was one of the last we wrote just before we hit the studio. It kind of fell together and it turned out to be a live staple and a radio favourite. Its funny how these things can happen!
Archstone Distribution is bringing the newly completed Echoes to this week’s AFM in Santa Monica.
Nils Timm writes and directs the film, which now has a trailer.
“Struggling with horrifying, sleep-paralysis induced visions, a young writer retreats with her boyfriend to an isolated desert house. As the visions intensify, she finds herself on the verge of losing her mind…or uncovering a life-threatening secret.”
Steven Brand, Billy Wirth, Kate French and Steve Hanks star, while Ditte Haleskov, Aaron Harvey and Nils Timm produce.
MPI has announced a November 14th release for the incredible Hollywood slasher Starry Eyes (read our review), which will be available on iTunes and other VOD platforms.
Written and Directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, “Determined to make it as an actress in Hollywood, Sarah Walker spends her days working a dead-end job, enduring petty friendships and going on countless casting calls in hopes of catching her big break. After a series of strange auditions, Sarah lands the leading role in a new film from a mysterious production company. But with this opportunity comes bizarre ramifications that will transform her both mentally and physically into something beautiful… and altogether terrifying.”
Alex Essoe, Noah Segan, Pat Healy, Amanda Fuller, Shane Coffer, and Fabianne Therese all star.
In next week’s episode of “The Walking Dead,” a new set of issues confront our group while on a mission. Will they be able to push through and survive these challenges? Or better yet, each other?
Below is both the promo for Episode 5.05 ‘Self Help,’ to go along with a sneak peak clip.
You can now read Clark’s rave review of last night’s Episode 5.04, ‘Slabtown’.
“It’s bigger than big”
Nightmare Man director Rolfe Kanefsky is getting back behind the camera for Epic Pictures Group.
He is currently in pre-production on Megafoot, which is to be sold at the upcoming AFM this week.
The film begins when a highly classified experiment accidentally unleashes a top secret killing machine known as MEGAFOOT. It’s up to an elite squad of soldiers to track down the beast and kill it before it destroys everyone and everything in its path.
Justin A. Martell and Mark Finch produce.
While the landfill of straight-to-video flicks that depend on a silly name grows steadily every month, Zombeavers (as screened at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival) actually has some great things going for it. Besides the title (which c’mon, you have to admit is a fun play on words), the horror-comedy is remarkably self-aware and well-executed. It doesn’t just make a farce of its genre tropes, it displays an actual love and understanding for them, while flexing some refined comedy chops. Don’t dismiss this buck-toothed bad boy as just another Sharknado, whoa no. Zombeavers actually delivers the goods.
It’s a cabin in the woods bikini bloodbath, but what the hell else are you expecting? After a barrel of toxic waste finds its way into a quaint lake, the resident beavers are transformed into bloodthirsty rodents hellbent for wood. There’s not much more to the plot than this, but writer-director Jordan Rubin and writers Al and Jon Kaplan manage to squeeze a lot of wit and engagement out of its simplicity. The short running time (75 minutes or so) is filled with silly scares, goofy beaver puppets, gore, and genuinely funny dialogue. About halfway through I was shocked how much of a good time I was having.
Rubin has a ton of experience in TV comedy writing (The Man Show, Craig Kilborn) and his ability to construct a solid and funny script is on full display. The comedy beats, the dialogue, the satire, it all works really, really well. Many of these small monster satires are made by unprofessional hacks who think tits, blood, and a marginally clever title make a good horror-comedy. They’re dead wrong. Zombeavers actually marries its concept, execution, and love of its predecessors into a coherent, entertaining film. Its title may be pure silliness, but it takes it silliness very serious, while always remaining aware how goddamn silly it all is.
A lot of these movies also have a cast I want to throttle within the first five minutes, but not the case here. The young cast is devoid of the overly obnoxious types that are entirely unbelievable as friends. The kids in Zombeavers actually seem like they’d hang out (though there is a lover’s spat causing a rift in their little group). The film is bookended with hysterical bits by Bill Burr and John Mayer (yes that John Mayer, making his acting debut) as the schlubs driving the truck the toxic waste barrel falls from. There are some amazing lines during those parts (especially if you’re a fan of Arby’s).
Zombeavers may not bring anything new to the table, but it packs a few surprises and it’s all executed very well. Unlike many of its ilk, you won’t feel like you’ve killed a few hundred brain cells by the end of it. Funny, bloody, silly, and quotable, this one’s definitely going to be a party movie for years to come.