Last we heard about Monsters: Dark Continent an April release date was announced. Now we’ve got the specifics: on April 17th the massive-looking sequel for Garth Edwards’ feature debut Monsters will be unleashed.
This time Tom Green (UK show Misfits) will be directing, with Edwards acting as executive producer. From what we’ve seen in the trailer, the tone of Dark Continent looks really interesting, with a tale of soldiers taking on giant monsters in the Middle East. It’s going to be a tough act to juggle but so far it looks pretty awesome.
“Ten years on from the events of Monsters, and the ‘Infected Zones’ have spread worldwide.
Two soldiers embark on a life-altering mission through the dark heart of monster territory in the deserts of the Middle East. By the time they reach their goal, they will have been forced to confront the fear that the true monsters on the planet may not be alien after all.“
Hollywood is all about the franchise, and tapping into our inner child. While most remakes or sequels to films form our beloved childhood, they’ve also started desperate attempts at turning just about anything into a movie.
Remember Battleship? Or how about Ouija?
The latter is more important here as Terror Trove shares a series of art that imagine childhood board games as horror movie posters. It’s a spectacular concept…
All Artwork by Alec Pezzano, Zack Smith and Michelle Massimilla
One of my absolute favorite bands from the past several years is the Norwegian prog rock/metal group Leprous. Their 2011 album Bilateral absolutely blew me away and the follow up, Coal, is an album I still listen to very often. That’s why I’m extremely excited that the band is hard at work on a new album called The Congregation.
The band today released the artwork and track listing for the album and I’m now even more excited. While Bilateral had a very colorful and playful cover, which matched the almost joyous manner of the music, Coal had a more stark cover, using only black and white, which reflected the more mature and serious tone of the album. Now, The Congregation takes things one step further with an album cover that is gruesome yet fascinating, showing some sort of desiccated, almost mummified creature that is entirely unexplainable. It was designed by French artist Nihil.
The band simply states:
The artwork represents the album’s dark theme very well by showing deformation and disturbance.
Leprous recorded all instruments for the album in Sweden’s Fascination Street / Ghostward Studios with David Castillo (Katatonia, Opeth) and the vocals together with Heidi Solberg Tveitan & Vegard Tveitan at Mnemosyne Studios in Norway. Just like the preceding albums Bilateral and Coal, The Congregation was mixed by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios (Symphony X, Kreator).
1. The Price
2. Third Law
4. The Flood
6. Within My Fence
Indie developer Cowardly Creations has gifted us with another deliciously old school trailer for their retro survival horror game Uncanny Valley. The game is scheduled to arrive next month for PC, you can even pre-order it now, if you like.
For the unfamiliar, Uncanny Valley is very much a love letter to the survival horror games of old. It follows Tom, a security guard working the graveyard shift at a mysterious facility. In an effort to better understand the place he’s been stationed to protect, Tom decides to start exploring.
Then, things get spooky.
The Drac Pack is back, on this new poster!
Sony Pictures Animation shared this new one-sheet for Hotel Transylvania 2, which will introduce Oscar-, Tony-, Grammy- and Emmy-winning writer, director, performer, composer and producer Mel Brooks in the sequel to the 2012 worldwide hit. You can also revisit the first teaser trailer here.
I quite enjoyed the first film, which I saw at TIFF back in 2012.
“Dracula, Mavis, Jonathan and all of their monster friends are back in the brand new comedy adventure: when the old-old-old-fashioned vampire Vlad arrives at the hotel for an impromptu family get-together, Hotel Transylvania is in for a comic collision of supernatural old-school and modern day cool.”
Hotel Transylvania 2 is slated for a September 25, 2015 release, and is being directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, produced by Michelle Murdocca, executive-produced by Sandler, Allen Covert, and Ben Waisbren, and written by Robert Smigel.
The fifth season of The Walking Dead” comes to an end Sunday, and AMC is going to force you to watch “Talking Dead” in order to catch the premiere of the spinoff’s promo.
On the heels of news that AMC has picked up two seasons of “The Walking Dead” companion series, AMC will share the first ever look at the pilot presentation of the tentatively titled “Fear The Walking Dead” during “Talking Dead” this coming Sunday at 10:30pm EST.
In the series, Kim Dickens stars as Miranda and Cliff Curtis as Sean.
AMC ordered two seasons of a spin-off series to be executive produced by Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero and David Alpert.
AMC president Charles Collier has stated that the series will explore “what was going on in other parts of the zombie apocalypse, and what it looked like as the world really did ‘turn.’”
“Fear The Walking Dead” will be set in Los Angeles and focused on new characters and storylines. The show’s first season will consist of six one-hour episodes and premiere on AMC in late summer. The show’s second season will air in 2016.
The series will star Cliff Curtis (“Missing,” “Gang Related”), Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, “Sons of Anarchy”), Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and Alycia Debnam Carey (Into the Storm).
Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/AMC
Capcom has finally released the content that came with the Resident Evil 5 “Gold Edition” on Steam as a part of the newly available Untold Stories bundle. For just one easy payment of $14.99, you can get both of the game’s story expansions — Lost in Nightmares and Desperate Escape — as well as The Mercenaries Reunion and some new costumes. You’ll also get the terrible idea that was its competitive Versus mode!
I didn’t love Desperate Escape, but Lost in Nightmares is a lot of fun, especially if you play it on the hardest difficulty, which effectively removes the radar. I only recommend you try that if you have a friend to play it with, because you’ll definitely want to be able to hear your friend scream when she gets grabbed by one of those anchor monsters. Good times.
Because alliteration is the shit, Steam is holding a Sega Super Sale that seriously slashes the prices of some games, including a single spooky scary… something — alright, you get it. Alien: Isolation is just $12.49 on Steam (reg. $49.99), its season pass is $14.99 (reg. $29.99), and they’ll remain that way until the sale ends on March 30.
Like what you just read? I haven’t even mentioned the other games that are also on sale this weekend. And I won’t, because that’d ruin the surprise. What surprise? This surprise.
Casting Henry Rollins as a weary, indifferent cannibal is as inspiring as it gets. If you’ve seen Rollins in any of his acting roles (Devil’s Tomb, Sons of Anarchy, hell, even Kroll Show), you’ll know he emits a menacing air every time. He’s aware of his legendary persona and isn’t afraid to have fun with it. Even in Heat, where he shared screen time with De Niro, Rollins effortlessly dominates a scene by just standing there and doing nothing at all.
In Jason Krawczyk’s He Never Died, Rollins’ intimidating persona is cleverly utilized to subvert expectations. He plays Jack, a somber loner whose disdain for the human race is palpable one. His past is only hinted at, as we gradually learn that he’s caused some seriously horrible shit back in the day and at this point would just rather avoid human contact altogether. The catch is he’s an immortal cannibal who needs to consume flesh/blood to survive. Begrudgingly, he feeds on black-market blood packs and as circumstances call, fresh human flesh as well.
Man, I’ve only been on the planet 32 years and I go out of my way to avoid human contact. Imagine being here for centuries? It’s no wonder Jack only leaves his apartment to hit up a diner or play bingo. This part fits Rollins and his dead-stare very, very well.
When a woman from his past resurfaces, Jack’s reclusive life is upheaved in spades. Turns out he has a teenage daughter named Andrea (Jordan Todosey) who’s as outgoing and excitable as he is withdrawn and misanthropic. This little angel could add some much-needed energy to his life, if he’d only let his guard down.
This family drama is balanced with the horror elements very well and Krawczyk’ displays an assured stance as a director. The problem is that the film has an overall feel of vagueness that allows the film to simply drift until its end. The film flirts with providing Jack with a mythology, but by the third or fourth time he is shot or tortured, it’s tough to feel sympathy. The concept is a very compelling one and the casting of Rollins is downright perfect, but He Never Died unfortunately suffers from an aimless vibe that leads to a terribly anticlimactic finish. Although there are some wicked interesting things going on in the film, it never feels cohesive or particularly gripping. Krawczyk is an assured director, there’s no doubt of that. If only He Never Died had a stronger story he would’ve had a better display for his filmmaking talents.
Torche have released their official video for “Annihilation Affair” and it’s fucking insane! Directed by BD fave Phil Mucci (High On Fire, Opeth, Huntress), the video shows an apocalyptic vision of the future where robots are programmed to wage war. However, a good old fashioned porno mag and a gorgeous woman in a cryotube – looking suspiciously like Leeloo from The Fifth Element – are all it takes for everything to descend into utter chaos once again. For some reason, I’m sensing there are a lot of influences and inspirations from the Heavy Metal films.
Torche singer/guitar player Steven Brooks comments:
Phil Mucci’s creation and destruction is so beautiful. Everything we hoped for and more!
“Annihilation Affair” comes from the band’s latest album Restarter, which you can snag via iTunes.
Torche on tour:
March 26 Brooklyn, NY St. Vitus
March 27 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts
March 28 Richmond, VA Strange Matters
March 29 Washington, DC DC 9
May 2 Leipzig, DE Taubchental
May 3 Wroclaw, PL Asymmetry Festival
May 4 Prague, CZ 007
May 5 Munich, DE Ampere
May 6 Milan, IT Lo Fi Club
May 8 Barcelona, SP Rocksound
May 9 Madrid, SP Boute Live!
May 10 Lisbon, PT Musicbox
May 11 Bilbao, SP Kafe Antzokia
May 13 Zurich, SZ Dynamo
May 14 Wiesbaden, DE Schlachthoff
May 15 Cologne, DE Underground
May 16 Berlin, DE Hafenklang
May 18 Nijmegen, NL Merelyn
May 19 Haarlem, NL Patronaat
May 20 Paris, FR Glazart
May 21 Antwerp, BE Kavka
May 22 London, UK Underworld
May 23 Leeds, UK Belgrave Social Club
May 24 Galway, IR Roisin Dubh
May 25 Cork, IR Craine Lane
May 26 Dublin, IR Grand Social
May 27 Belfast, IR The Limelight
May 28 Glasgow, UK CCA
May 29 Manchester, UK Sound Control
May 30 Bristol, UK Temples Festival
May 31 Nimes, FR This is Not a Love Song
June 1 Nantes, FR Le Ferrailleur
July 2 Portland, OR Dante’s
July 3 Seattle, WA Chop Suey
July 4 Vancouver, BC Venue
July 6 Edmonton, ON Pawn Shop Live
July 7 Calgary, AB The Gateway at SAIT
July 8 Saskatoon, SK Amigos Cantina
July 10 Winnipeg, MB Pyramid Cabaret
July 11 Fargo, ND The Aquarium
July 13 Indianapolis, IN The Hi-Fi
July 14 Chicago, IL The Empty Bottle
July 15 Madison, WI High Noon Saloon
July 16 Des Moines, IA Wooly’s
July 17 Omaha, NE The Waiting Room
July 20 Nashville, TN Exit/In
July 21 Columbus, MO Rose Music Hall
July 22 Kansas City, MO Record Bar
July 24 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge
July 25 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge
July 26 Las Vegas, NV The Bunkhouse
July 28 San Diego, CA The Casbah
July 29 San Diego, CA The Casbah
July 31 Los Angeles, CA The Roxy
August 1 Oakland, CA Oakland Metro Operahouse
March 26 to 29 w/Nothing & Wrong
July 2 to August 1 w/Melt Banana (co-headline)
The Alan Wake franchise has sold over 4.5 million copies on the PC and Xbox 360, says Remedy CEO Matias Myllyrinne, otherwise known as That Guy With the Really Cool Name. That’s enough copies to fill all of Cauldron Lake! Okay, that’s definitely not true, but it is comparable to the population of Barcelona (thanks, Google!)
It’s also an impressive accomplishment for a franchise that I still hear get referred to as a “failure”. It’s not a failure, you’re a failure, and I have it on good authority your parents don’t even love you.
— Matias Myllyrinne (@MausRMD) March 25, 2015
Post-punk band Coliseum have released an official music video for “Sunlight In A Snowstorm”, which comes from their upcoming album Anxiety’s Kiss (out May 5th via Deathwish Inc.).
Direct from the official press release:
Anxiety’s Kiss is arguably the trio’s most experimental album to date, an energized amalgamation of cathartic post-punk, frenetic underground rock, post-gothic ambience, and punk ethos that is easily the most realized representation of the bands’ melodic ebb and flow to date.
Anxiety’s Kiss can be pre-ordered via the official Deathwish Inc. online store.
We premiered Coliseum’s video for “Black Magic Punks” back in early 2013. You can check that out here.
Earlier this month, The Assignment kicked off Tango’s post-launch support for The Evil Within the right way by playing to the game’s strengths and focusing on one of its more interesting characters. Julie “Kid” Kidman’s story will conclude next month with The Consequence, and if it’s half as good as the first DLC was, I doubt we’ll leave it disappointed.
The Evil Within: The Consequence arrives on April 21 for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Slender: The Arrival is continuing its Bataan Death March of migration to all platforms, and the PS4 version is the most recent incarnation.
It’s not necessary to go into detail about the whole of Slender mythology, but suffice it to say there have been games other than these. Slender: The Arrival was released on previous gen platforms last fall, and variants of the core game have appeared all over the internet for years. My review of the PS3 version appeared on this very site in October.
If you somehow missed the Slender craze of the last few years, then woo boy do you have some catching up to do. There’s a whole internet out there for you to peruse, full of reaction GIFs and other arcane knowledge even I don’t know exists.
Slender: The Arrival for the PS4 is a pretty but largely shallow port of an already existing game. It suffers from being a mere clone of its predecessors, and at two hours, it doesn’t provide anything more than a simple, unsophisticated distraction.
The game doesn’t add much to the lore or gameplay, and the changes that do occur are mostly graphical in nature. Unless you somehow missed all of the previous releases, there’s no reason to greet the arrival of this guest.
In Slender: The Arrival, you play as Lauren, who, after finding her friend Kate’s home abandoned, save for some cryptic notes on the wall, goes on a creepy and unsettling search to find her.
Wielding only a video camera and a flashlight, you brave a variety of environments to track Kate down. Meanwhile, in the process, you encounter and must subsequently avoid a shadowy, well-dressed villain in the form of Slender Man. His presence is denoted by a static-y vibration in the camera, and getting too close means being taken down by the blank figure.
And that’s about it. The game takes you through the aforementioned environments — house, abandoned mining facility, mountainous area — but the core concept is the same: explore an area and find a specific number of items to pass on to the next area. The more items you collect, the more aggressive Slender Man becomes in pursuing you.
It’s almost mini-episodic in nature, an adventure game at its most basic level, but the fun is derived not from the exploration but from the sudden and shocking appearance of the game’s antagonist. I won’t even go so far as to call Slender: The Arrival a horror game, in the traditional sense. It’s mostly just a “scare exploration game,” full of atmosphere and mood and lots of scares but very little horror. It’s sort of like the most extreme version of peekaboo imaginable.
The question that presents itself is, if the game is so similar, what does the PS4 version bring that’s different? Well, it must be stated that the game looks FANTASTIC. For example, the textures are way more detailed than in previous ports, and an Abrams-esque lens flare effect also looks pretty cool in The Eight Pages section. Slender Man, too, looks the best of any released version of the game so far. It’s weird staring out over a wide, mountainous vista, a la The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, and thinking, “Jesus, this is a Slender game.”
Ultimately, however, the technical improvements are only frustrating in the end, because they reveal what the game truly lacks. Instead of increasing graphical fidelity, why not spend more time improving the story or refining the game’s limited mechanics? Graphical nuance means nothing if the game is inherently shallow, which is exactly the case with The Arrival.
Not every game should have gunplay and giant explosions, but giving the player a little more to do while walking around — or at least more of a developed story — would make for a more sophisticated and interesting game.
As someone who played the PS3 version, I was looking for something, any sort of hook, that would bring me back to this franchise, but I only came away feeling an underwhelming sense of one-note-ness about the game.
The list of things that could have been improved, even marginally, is huge. We really get very little of the relationship between Lauren and Kate. Lauren, as a protagonist, does nothing besides provide a lens for the audience. Any playable character is just a delivery mechanism for jump scares. The mechanics are underdeveloped. “Press ‘x’ to do ‘y’ thing” is the most common interaction, and that hasn’t changed.
What are the stakes, beyond “if you don’t turn on six generators, then Slender Man will turn you into static?” It works the first time, when you’re new to this particular concept, but it wears off quickly.
With a game so short and so lacking in other elements that normally make a game special, Slender: The Arrival very obviously needs something but doesn’t even attempt to include it, whatever it is. Strip away the graphics and it becomes a walking simulator, doubly so if you’ve played it before.
To give this version some credit, I will say Blue Isle has perfected what Slender does well, as a concept. The frenetic, shaky-cam that accompanies an appearance of Slender Man is both terrifying and nerve-wracking; there just needs to be more of it or a different version of it to be successful. Most gamers are not coming to a Slender game for its features or mechanics. People are coming to it for a certain kind of scare, and this version delivers as well as any other iteration.
This particular form of the Slender story is done, dead and desiccated. There is nothing left to do with it, so let’s hope that we don’t see another Slender: The Arrival anytime soon. If any other reskinned variant appears on any platform, it has to include something fresh (or at last something new) for it to be even the slightest bit interesting. Perhaps now that every market has been satisfied with The Arrival, we can see a different Slender Man story.
The Final Word:If you’ve played Slender: The Arrival in any of its previous variations, you won’t find much more here, unless you’re a completist or hardcore fan. However, if you’ve never ventured into a Slender game, now’s the perfect opportunity.
My mother always told me to be honest otherwise I would be “looking in the rearview mirror” my entire life. That’s the basis of the new Blumhouse thriller.
Jason Bateman will star in STX Entertainment and Blumhouse’s The Gift, which was formerly titled Weirdo.
“Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are a young married couple whose life is going just as planned until a chance encounter with an acquaintance from Simon’s high school sends their world into a harrowing tailspin. Simon doesn’t recognize Gordo (Joel Edgerton) at first, but after a seemingly coincidental series of encounters proves troubling, a horrifying secret from their past is uncovered after nearly 20 years. As Robyn learns the unsettling truth about what happened between Simon and Gordo, she starts to question: how well do we really know the people closest to us, and are past bygones ever really bygones?”
Joel Edgerton made his directorial debut, says Deadline.
The psychological thriller is set for a July 31, 2015 release.
XLrator Media has acquired North American distribution rights to the time travel thriller Time Lapse starring Danielle Panabaker (CW’s “The Flash,” FX’s “Justified”), Matt O’Leary (Fat Kid Rules the World, Natural Selection) and George Finn (LOL).
It will release the film in theaters and on VOD on May 15, 2015 on its “MACABRE” genre label.
“Time Lapse explores the possibilities of time travel through a machine that is capable of taking pictures 24 hours into the future. When three friends discover this mysterious machine in their neighbor’s apartment, they encounter a number of pressing questions, not least of which is the whereabouts of their neighbor. Realizing the potential impact of the machine, Finn (Matt O’Leary), Jasper (George Finn), and Callie (Danielle Panabaker) attempt to cash in on their discovery. But, when a dangerous criminal learns their secret, the friends must set aside their differences and confront the paradox of a future that was once predetermined and entirely uncertain. Using an engaging blend of action, humor, and philosophy, Time Lapse is an original thriller that not only keeps the audience guessing, but also explores questions of pre-determination, free will and destiny.”
Time Lapse is the feature directorial debut of Bradley King, who co-wrote the script with BP Cooper.
“A smart sci-fi thriller with a mind-bending premise, Time lapse combines the ingenious structure of Memento with the dark comic irony of ‘The Twilight Zone’,” said XLrator Media CEO Barry Gordon. “It epitomizes the exciting new wave of independently produced sci-fi films that rely on original, clever stories and masterful filmmaking rather than mega-million-dollar visual effects budgets. Last year The Wall Street Journal reported extensively on this dynamic new filmmaking trend.”
Scott Beck and Bryan Woods directed what is being styled as an innovative take on the found footage genre told from a singular point of view.
Nightlight, in limited theaters and On Demand March 27th through Lionsgate, Bloody Disgusting has landed the film’s official stills and one-sheet.
“For years, the Covington forest has been shrouded in mystery, with a dark past as a final destination for troubled youths. Undeterred by the news of a classmate who recently took his life in those woods, five teens journey into the forest for an evening of flashlight games and ghost stories. But their plans go awry when the friends awaken a demonic presence, an unseen evil that will seize upon their deepest fears—and plunge them into a nightmare of absolute terror.”
Shelby Young, Chloe Bridges, Taylor Murphy and Carter Jenkins star.
The deeper you go, the darker it gets.
WolfCop has been out on home video for a couple weeks now and if you haven’t seen it by now, I just don’t get you, man. Lowell Dean’s film is a riotous romp that works well as both an absurd creature comedy and a cop drama. In a genre that’s flooded with garbage like Sharknado, WolfCop stands tall as a unique work that happens to be damn well made.
I spoke with writer/director Lowell Dean about the origins of the film, balancing the tone, and the hardships of properly hacking off a head in a meth lab.
Before WolfCop you did 13 Eerie and some TV documentary work. How did you make the transition to such a no-holds barred type of film?
13 Eerie was my first film and it was a big break for me in a lot of ways. It was my first time ever directing something with a pretty healthy budget. Prior to that I was just doing my own short films for fun and I’d be lucky if I had a thousand bucks for those. 13 Eerie was a pretty big leap and gave me the taste for feature films.
It wasn’t my script at all, I just kind of lucked into being able to direct it. I learned a lot and I really enjoyed, but for my next film I definitely wanted to do something that I wrote, that’s more of my personality, which is a little but more messed up. WolfCop was just me trying to say, I want to write a feature film as well as direct and it was a tough road to get it made but we did it.
Were there any moments while you were writing or filming that you thought maybe you should pull back, that maybe you were going too off the rails?
Totally. That was a big struggle everyday. From prep to shooting and even when we were editing it, we were trying to find the tone. There were times on set where we’d shoot a scene and it felt too silly. So I’d say, okay do exactly what you just did, but do it as a drama. I think when the movie’s called WolfCop, you know, I didn’t want it to be just a two hour running joke with everyone winking at the camera. I didn’t want it to be Sharknado or even The Naked Gun level of humor. My goal was always a comic book movie, but I didn’t want it to be so funny you didn’t care about the characters.
I really love how some of the scenes are set during complete daylight. You don’t see that a lot in werewolf movies.
We got lucky I guess with the concept of the solar eclipse, so we got to see him in the daylight a bit more. But a big thing for me, is I love practical effects and I love the work that Emerson (Ziffle) did so it would be a shame to hide all that work under the cover of darkness. I mean sometimes it’s good for suspense but with these lower budget films it can also feel like you’re hiding something if you just shoot at night. I like the opportunity to show Lou in broad daylight, you know, in the middle of a convenience store. It’s something you’ve never seen so it’s absurd too, just seeing a werewolf walk into a store.
I really love convenience store scenes in general.
(laughs) I agree.
For the most part the film is all practical effects. What CGI did you have to use?
Our intention was to always try to go for practical first, but this was a very tight budget and a quick shoot. For example, the solar eclipse, we weren’t lucky enough to get B-roll of a real solar eclipse so we had to do that through CGI. There were some practical effects that didn’t turn out as perfectly as we wanted but we didn’t really have time to do multiple takes. It was like, okay we got our two takes of the guy’s head coming off, we’ll have to fix it in post.
Was there anything in the script that you had to take out because it wouldn’t work within the budget?
Definitely. The very first transformation scene in the bathroom was actually supposed to roll into a very big fight scene. It’s kind of impled, some guys walk into the bathroom and then it cuts to the moon. You kind of fill in the gaps. Originally I wanted to have a kick ass epic fight scene and we were going to build a completely fake bathroom and just destroy it. About two weeks before shoot we had the hard meeting, the budget meeting. Deb our production manager basically told me “You have three big fight scenes in your script, you can afford two, pick which one you want to lose.” Sadly that was the one. I’m going to try and hide those gags somewhere in a different movie.
That scene really works though, with the implied violence and the whole face off gag.
It was really the only scene that could be cut. There was no way I was cutting the barn scene.
I love the barn scene. The car is another one of my other favorite parts of the film. Just seeing a cop that’s a wolf drive a car is genius.
That was a lot of fun. The Wolf Cruiser, as we called it, was never even a guarantee. It was discussed but it wasn’t in the first few drafts of the script. J. Joly, one of our executive producers, was like “You gotta put that car in there.” It’s a good indicator I think to the world what the movie is in terms of tone, you know, for anybody who’s slightly confused. If you see a three minute scene of a wolf tricking out his car you have to accept that it’s a comedy at this point.
It was really fun. Justin Ludwig (production designer) designed a version of a cop car and we had fun with it. One of the coolest things is Leo Fafard was actually part of the team responsible for building the car. He was the one who welded the W on the hood. I was like, “You’re really earning your lead role here.”
How is WolfCop 2 coming along?
I’ve already written the first draft and we are slowly tooling away at getting the financing. I hope we can start shooting by summer.
So that’s definitely the next project for you?
100 percent. I’ve got some stuff that I want to do but it looks like WolfCop 2 jumped to the head of the line. It’s really hard making independent films so you jump anytime you think something has momentum.
Awesome, I can’t wait. Could you share any crazy stories from the set?
I think everyday was kind of crazy but one funny story that pops in my brain is when WolfCop knocks off the severed head in the meth lab and starts the fire, we thought that would be a really simple thing. But the way the head was built and the way the table was, it actually kept just bouncing off. So we had our whole crew at one point standing just off camera, taking turns whipping the head at this meth lab. That was a really weird afternoon.
WolfCop is now available on DVD/Blu-ray. Get the damn thing!
Like a throwback to 1980s and early ’90s crime thriller, Kill Me Three Times tells the tale of three different groups of questionable characters, who go about solving their problems in the worst possible ways, and even manage to drag a hit man into their battles. The assassin, Charlie Wolfe, is an accomplished killer, but even he soon realizes that he’s swiftly proceeded straight into a field of land mines after spending just a few hours in Eagle’s Nest. Now, his only course of action left is to try to complete his line of duty, even when tons of murderers, crooks, and liars stand in his way.
I was fortunate enough to speak with director Kriv Stenders about his hilarious, exciting new thriller Kill Me Three Times. In the interview, we talk about Kriv’s desire to cast a comedian in the role of a hit man, the way he used Australia’s terrain to amplify his shocking scenes, and his growing affinity for television.
Kalyn Corrigan: So, I was wondering, in what order to people sign onto this film? How did you bring everyone together for this project?
Kriv Stenders: Well, it’s interesting because I was sent the script when another director, who was originally meant to direct it, when there was a scheduling conflict. So, it was just this opportunity that came out of the blue and Larry Malkin sent me the script, I read it and I loved it, but what was really intriguing wasn’t necessarily that it was a good project, but it had a number of elements already attached to it. So, Sullivan Stapleton, Alice Braga were already on board, which was great, because I loved both of them as actors, so that was a great way to start. So, I read the script, and I thought, you know, this is such a fun movie, this is such a fun script, I find it really operatic and actually really funny. My pitch I guess was to amplify that comedy and that black humor. I think with Charlie, there are so many generic hit man in history that we can’t go down that same route, and I’m a big believer that comedians, or comedic actors make great villains so I said “I want to cast a comedian in this role.” So, we started looking at comedians, and one day Larry suggested Simon Pegg and I said “Genius, brilliant” and we were very lucky that he said yes. So, Simon came on, and then eventually, we got Callan Mulvey and Teresa Palmer and finally Luke Hemsworth and Bryan Brown. So, it all kind of happened very quickly, which is, again, fun.
KC: I think that’s very smart to put a comedian in the role of a hit man.
KS: Yeah, well you know, I think, I love Robin Williams in those movies that he did like Insomnia and One Hour Photo. I thought that was a really brave idea. I always thought, “Oh, I’m gonna store that idea, and use it one day.” That kind of methodology, but yeah, it really worked for us one on this one.
KC: I love the genre blending and I think where this film succeeds where others kind of like it in the past have not is that it’s not a straight parody, it’s an action film with elements of comedy thrown in.
KS: That’s right. Yeah, yeah. It’s what I call a four square meal. You get everything, plus a nice dessert. (Laughs)
KC: So how did you find that balance between the genres?
KS: It was difficult, actually. It wasn’t so much difficult to maintain, it was just difficult to kind of lock on to, because there was some dramatic elements to it. Simon created a kind of rhythm and feel and I guess tone. But, once Simon came on and we knew that was the way we were gonna go, then it very much became about, “Okay, we can do this and therefore we have to do this and we have to emphasize things in a different way, and always make people understand that this was ultimately a movie that had its tongue very firm in its cheek” and that was a lot of fun. It wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, and that goes into the color schemes, the framing, the music, everything. It’s very much like writing a song, or playing the music. Once you find the rhythm, you know what instruments you’re going to use, you just stick to that template and then it all kind of gels.
KC: Yeah. It’s also challenging because not only are you doing a film where you have three different groups of people whose stories interweave, but it’s all told not in chronological order. So, how did you go about tackling that?
KS: Well, like anything, a film’s never shot in chronological order anyway. They play with time when you schedule them. You know, you’re shooting the beginning at the end, or the end at the beginning, and whatever. But it was such a great screenplay, it had such a great architect to it that it was a bit like building a model airplane, all of the pieces were there, and it was a lot of joy in getting to put the pieces together. So, you always knew where that piece fitted in to the grand scheme of things, because you knew that it had this great kind of clockwork that played with time and that was its engine, so that’s a really delightful thing to work with as opposed to a straight, linear story. So, it has its own sort of shape.
KC: Yeah, James McFarland did a really great job on the script.
KS: He did an amazing job. He’s a very talented man. This is one of his first screenplays, so I think he’s got some big things ahead.
KC: Yeah. Did he spend a lot of time on the set?
KS: No, I’ve never met James.
KC: Oh really? Wow.
KS: Actually, I’ve only met him over Skype. He lives in Ireland, and I wouldn’t call him a recluse, but I think he doesn’t really travel much, so we had a long distance remote collaboration, which was still really, really great.
KC: So was that challenging? Because you never really got to see him?
KS: Not really because when you’re dealing with a writer, you’re dealing with words, you’re dealing with ideas, and in a way, I like it. It sort of makes things easier in a way, and cleaner, because you’re communicating in the best way possible, which is through words and through ideas, and he was very generous, as well. He was very open to my suggestions and to heightening things and tailoring things a little bit more to the way I thought they should be staged. So, that was just a great, great collaboration, a lot of fun.
KC: So he gave you a lot of freedom?
KS: He did, he did, but at the same time, the script itself also said, “Look, you can go off the track a little bit, but you can’t go too far” because it had this great, as I said, this great kind of matrix, this great architecture that you can’t really mess around with much.
KC: I noticed that there’s a smoothness and a fluidity to this film as opposed to some of your previous work. It seems that there’s a lot more tracking shots in Kill Me Three Times, so what made you want to change it up and kind of change your style of filmmaking for this project?
KS: Well, to me it was very much about, as a filmmaker I think you always want to learn something with every film you make. You don’t want to repeat yourself. You don’t want to rely on old tricks, and I think it’s very important that you challenge yourself, and you try and scare yourself a little bit. This was an exercise in making, I guess, sort of, a movie with a capital “M”. You know, an international movie. I said to the crew, “Look. Let’s not think of this as an Australian movie. Let’s think of this as an American movie that just happens to be set in Australia.” So that was a really great way to start to enter the material, you know? Let’s shoot on anamorphic lenses, let’s be bold with the color, let’s go ’80s on this. Let’s really embrace fluouros and neons, let’s really push the color, and let’s really play with the compositions, and let’s make what I call a sports car of a movie. It moves really fast, it looks really cool, and it’s really fun to drive.
KC: Yeah, yeah that’s definitely one of the things I loved about it is the use of color and how it kind of pops and it’s like this very distinct separation between the setting and the events that are taking place. It almost amplifies the violence, because the settings are so beautiful, and the shots of Australia are so gorgeous. So, how did you use Australia’s terrain to amplify the violence in the film?
KS: Well, again we sort of made the decision to, you know, that this wasn’t going to be a piece of social realism or wasn’t really going to be about a real place, and again it was like creating…I guess like creating a cartoon. It was about simplifying things, like making things the way they are in comic books, very graphic and vivid and high key. These landscapes we have are really beautiful, but these color schemes are really bold. That water is actually that color, it is that aqua green color. The skies are a vivid blue, and the greens really do pop. And I went, “Wow! That’s the color scheme! It’s going to be blue and green and red for the blood.” The landscapes sort of presented itself to me in that way. It was like, okay, these are like textedit colors, and I’m going to draw and paint this stuff with these really strong, vivid colors. It was great when you have something speaking to you like that, and you can play with that, and play with combinations, and how you can keep those visual colors and those ideas going throughout every facet of the story.
KC: Do you prefer filming in Australia as opposed to other areas of the world?
KS: Well, I haven’t really shot anywhere else. I live in Australia, and I love living in Australia, and I love working there. We’re very lucky, we’ve got a great system over there, we’ve got the offset system, which is great to have state and federal funding for films. We’re very fortunate. For a small country, I think we make a lot of movies, and I think we make a lot of really great movies. So, obviously, I’d love to work over here and make films internationally, but it’s sort of a country that I’ve grown up in and I’ve grown up making films in. We’ve got a great lineage, who’ve paved the path for us. A whole generation, people like Peter Weir and Phillip Noyce and Gillian Armstrong, so there’s a great kind of tradition there. Crews are fantastic over there. You know, we’re a very egalitarian race or country I guess, and that egalitarianism is really prevalent on a film set. Everyone helps each other, departments cross over, there’s no such thing as a bad idea and everyone is a creative participant in it, not just a crew member or someone who sets up a light, or pushes a dolly. They’re invested in telling the story.
KC: Yeah, they’re all very intertwined. So is this something that you would like to continue? Would you like to keep making movies in Australia?
KS: I’ll make movies wherever they’ll have me. (Laughs) Yeah I will, and I kind of have to, my family lives there. I think it’s an exciting time now. I think television and film, it’s all fusing. There are new canvases and platforms. The way we have watched films has changed, and it’s changing in Australia and it’s an exciting time, and I’m just fortunate to have a career there, and be able to build on my previous work and hopefully continue moving forward.
KC: Are you interested in pursuing television?
KS: Oh yeah, I’ve just done a T.V. show. I just shot a thing called The Principal late last year and it was just one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Television, to me, it’s such an exciting new canvas. To me, it’s not really television, I call them long form movies, because I think that’s what good television is. It’s still the craft of storytelling. It’s the same craft and the same skills, and I guess the same standards that you’d use in a feature film, you’ve got to do that in television as well, because peoples’ standards are now that much higher, so it’s a thrilling time.
KC: Yeah, especially with shows like True Detective and Game of Thrones, they’ve become so cinematic.
KS: Yeah, and to me, it’s blurred now, and I find that really interesting and really exciting, because films have a place, and that longer style of storytelling has a place and it’s a bit like the difference between listening to a rock song or reading a book. You know, they’re both valid experiences. One’s immediate and short, you have that one-and-a-half hour experiences in a dark room or on your big screen, and it’s complete, while television is great too, it’s like reading a big book and putting it down, and coming back to it, and entering the story world in a different way. So they’re both valid, and they’re both, creatively, really satisfying and exciting mediums.
KC: Which one would you say you’re more interested in currently?
KS: In a way, I think television now, because it’s a way in which, I think films have become, there’s a polarity with movies now. You either make a tentpole film, or you make a film for like, baby boomers. In Australia at least, they’re they only films that work theatrically. So, there’s this whole middle ground of dramas and genre films that don’t really get to be made or be seen by a big audience, while with television, you’re allowed to do drama, you’re allowed to push. In a funny kind of way, you can be bolder with television now than with feature films because feature films are so expensive to make, and they have to be so targeted towards a certain audience that you have to be very careful about what you’re making, and who you’re making it for. With television, of course you still make it for an audience or for a market, but there’s a little bit more freedom in television.
KC: Yeah, one thing that I really loved about your film is that it was made for adults, you know?
KS: Yeah, no it’s very much an adult movie that hopefully you live vicariously through the characters and you have a bit of fun. It’s what films are meant to be. It’s entertainment and adult escapism.
KC: Do you think it’s important to make a movie like this in a society where films are geared more and more towards children?
KS: I’ve actually got a kid myself, and I’ve made movies for kids before, like Red Dog. You know they’re very important but at the same time yeah, I’ve grown up loving movies and loving all sorts of eras and all sorts of genres. I think it’s important to still keep making movies, you know, appealing to all kinds of audiences. I would like to make all kinds of films, and I just happened to make this one in this way, and it’s been really satisfying and really fun.
KC: Do you think you’ll make any more films for children?
KS: Yeah, I’m making a sequel to Red Dog next, and I wouldn’t call it a children’s film, it’s a family film, and it’s going back to that material and back to that kind of audience, because that’s a big audience. It’s good to make something that you know has got a home, you know, has a birth.
KC: Are there any other upcoming projects that you’d like to discuss?
KS: I’m trying to finance a film called Danger Close which is based on a true story about a very famous Australian battle in Vietnam. It’s an action movie, and that’s something that we’re trying to get off of the ground now, so that’s something I’m focusing on.