Umedia is taking The Well to the ongoing American Film Market, reports ScreenDaily.
“The pic is a psychological horror about a young woman trapped at the bottom of a dried out well, who is tormented both by a stranger, from outside the well, and by her own psyche, from inside.”
The UK-Swedish-Hungarian co-production will be directed by Misko Massanyi, who also wrote the script.
Tony Krantz and Jesper Böcker are producing through 79 Pictures, with production set to start early 2014.
Our scoop from this past February(!) has been confirmed the day of AFM as Battleship and “Friday Night Lights” star Taylor Kitsch, pictured, is attached to star in thriller Exit 147, one of three new films being introduced by Umedia at the AFM, reports ScreenDaily.
In Exit 147, Kitsch stars as “a sadistic cop who plays mind games with a young traveller who he stops driving through the desert one night.”
Set to go into production in the second quarter of 2014, it is directed by Julian Jarrold, which we also reported back in February.
Written by Travis Milloy (Pandorum), Exit 147 is a Umedia presentation of a Mandalay Vision production.
Henry Rollins — a major multi-tasker as musician, writer, journalist, publisher, radio host, actor and activist — has assumed a new role as leading man.
Best known as the frontman for seminal punk band Black Flag, Rollins, who starred in Feast and Wrong Turn 2, returns to horror with the indie horror-thiller He Never Died as Jack, who has prolonged life by buying stolen blood, until his criminal past come back to haunt him, Variety says.
Jason Krawczyk directs. “Grand Theft Auto 5” star Steven Ogg has come onboard to co-star with Rollins.
“An exceptionally prolonged life brings depression and a detachment. Jack buys stolen blood from a hospital intern, pays bingo daily, sleeps fourteen hours a day, watches television six hours a day, and lives alone. This is his life and he has shelled himself away from social interactions. The fuse is lit when Jack’s past comes back to rattle him. Jack must now walk the tight rope of sobriety and try to eat as few people as possible in this violent tale of personal responsibility and self worth. As it turns out, there are very few reasons to live when you can’t die.”
Shooting starts Nov. 13 in Toronto.
108 Media is selling international markets at the American Film Market.
Written by T. Blake Braddy, @blakebraddy
Knock-Knock is a flat-out weird experience, from the opening frames, when players first see its spiky-haired protagonist, to the last few surreal moments, and digging into the history of its conception reveals a story almost as bizarre as the game’s own narrative.
In November 2011, the crew at Ice Pick Lodge, the game’s developer, received an anonymous email containing an attachment called “letsplay.rar,” which turned out to be an archive of 19 various media files, including small pieces of text, audio, and video.
The cryptic email urged them to make a game based on the files, though it warned ominously that collecting them together would have a potentially unsettling outcome.
It should be noted that emails of this type are sent with numbing frequency, especially to games companies. Both aspiring creatives and devious pranksters find video game producers to be particularly apt targets for their desperate communiques, so most of them go straight into the trash.
Alexandra Golubeva, a writer and designer at the company, says that they kind of blew off this email, too, at first. She said, “We thought it might be some kind of prank, that someone was trying to scare us, maybe even intimidate us.”
Yet, something was different about this one. The files seemed mostly unconnected in a strict narrative sense, but they all shared a similar sense of odd, atmospheric creepiness, a confluence of factors that made it stand out.
According to a press release from Ice Pick Lodge, “The surface examination did not reveal anything did not reveal anything straightforwardly terrifying, yet we could not escape the feeling that something truly sinister was lurking underneath.”
And the longer they thought about it, the more they became transfixed, not necessarily in a direct sense, in the messages themselves, but what they said about the sender. Golubeva said, “It dawned on us: what if this archive is not a carefully constructed message, but rather bits and pieces seen ‘through the eyes’ of a person in a certain situation?” It occurred to them that the best course of action would be to make a game that re-imagined the situation of the message’s creator.
They decided to contact the person responsible for “letsplay.rar,” but they received nothing in return. Not another file. Not another video. Not even another email. Nothing.
Combined with the nature of the original message, this idea became oddly unsettling for all of the members within the studio.
So they took that idea and ran with it.
They decided to make a game about unanswered messages, about lost communication, and there began the idea for Knock-Knock. Originally, they had no genre, so the idea to make it a horror game was not extant at the game’s outset. To them, the idea was what was important, not the genre. “What was important was…catching the sender’s tune and answering their plea,” said Golubeva.
Since they couldn’t reach the person behind the mysterious “letsplay.rar,” they thought it would be interesting to capture that feeling of isolation and transmit it to the world. Maybe it would reach the original emailer, and maybe it wouldn’t, but the potential was what gave them the initial intellectual spark.
It’s kind of a strange and beautiful idea, especially in today’s world of hyperkinetic and continual communication. To make a game based on the idea that you cannot get in touch with someone, for whatever reason, can itself be a comment on the state of the world.
So they began work.
Rather than use “letsplay.rar” as a literal document for designing the game, they decided to rely on it as a sort of central inspiration, to combine the fact of their own experience with the aforementioned recreation of the sender’s circumstances. Golubeva even hinted at the possibility that the game’s artist included some of the original .rar materials within the game, though it isn’t entirely clear if the Easter eggs actually exist in there or not.
The most obvious connection to the “letsplay.rar” email comes in the form of the main character, a sort of badger-y protagonist named The Lodger. Players guide him through a randomly generated home to fix and turn on lights to keep the surreal images from his nightmares from driving him insane.
The disconnected nature of the messages themselves became the inspiration for The Lodger’s clippy monologues interspersed throughout Knock-Knock. His pronouncements seem at first to be completely random and without connection to the outside world but take on a strange philosophical cohesiveness over the course of this admittedly brief game. They come to represent who he is, even if what he says makes no sense to anyone but himself.
And that was part of the design aesthetic, according to Golubeva. “The Lodger refuses to wonder why [the supernatural events are happening around him],” she said, “and we were hoping that this fact itself would be enough to nudge the player to oppose his character and ask the question.”
Which, it seems, is the source of the tension players experience while traipsing around The Lodger’s confusing, dilapidated, and altogether menacing abode. At the outset of the game, they are given no real indication of the game’s rules or expectations, and The Lodger’s solipsism doesn’t help in that regard, so the player has to uncover the game’s purpose as s/he progresses, sometimes to his or her own detriment.
Golubeva is convinced that helps to create the distinctly unnerving mood within the world of Knock-Knock. “That’s kind of the point of feeling scared, no?” she said. “You know you’re playing a game, but what game is it? How do you play it effectively?”
As you move around and reconnect the lights and open doors, though, the game’s purpose becomes less opaque, but the randomness of events makes it difficult to ever feel on firm footing within the game. The configuration of the rooms changes night to night, and other variables give the impression that the true logic of the game cannot be entirely known.
Luckily, the experience is brief – only about 3-4 hours – so happening upon an undesirable ending isn’t too much of a penalty. It adds some replay value to the experience, if you enjoyed your first go-round, of course.
Golubeva said the writers and designers at Ice Pick Lodge made a less story-driven experience this time but instead made something more contingent upon mood and environment, and that is where the terror comes from. Not only does it arise out of the seeming randomness of the nightmares but also from the feeling of being toyed with.
The game is continually unpredictable, which adds to the feeling of unease. Golubeva said, “We balanced and rebalanced the variables, but the story? It’s there, just in case. You are in the cabin. There are guests. That’s the story, and I don’t think you can exactly balance what it means.” The result is a cyclical, unnerving experience, kind of like a David Lynch flick animated by Adult Swim.
And the mysterious “letsplay.rar” emailer? Still no contact, says Golubeva. It’s as though the message was sent and then the email address erased. The game, she said, was yet another attempt for them to reach out to this person, to maybe make that last connection, at least for the sake of closure.
In the end, they both returned the message and transmitted one of their own, and they have at least received responses from the community on their end. Through Kickstarter and Steam, they managed to facilitate communication but also still make a game that was also still distinctly theirs.
LIVE FROM SPOOKY EMPIRE! It’s time for Horror Chat Stew (Mmm, sooo meaty!) At the 2013 panel we chat with attendees about this past years round up of horror and what scares us as horror fans. It was great meeting a bunch of you at the show and we look forward to seeing more of you soon!
Make sure to subscribe to Bloody-Disgusting Radio on iTunes!
Music by Halloween at High Noon
Closing Music: DevilDriver – “Sail”
Exclusive: We have a new look at Mac Carter’s Haunt, starring Jacki Weaver, which opens February 7 from IFC Films.
In addition, we have a pair of tickets to the World Premiere, which is to be held next Wednesday, November 6 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center at 9PM. You can also purchase tickets here. If you’d like to enter to score a pair of tickets, make sure you can attend and then send your FULL NAME to email@example.com. Winner will be contacted via e-mail and tickets will be on will call.
“Haunt centers on a boy who gets involved with a mysterious neighbor when his family moves into a new home and unwittingly summons a demon.” Harrison Gilbertson and Liana Liberato also star.
Professional storyboard artist Federico D’Alessandro is in early talks to write and direct Lockdown At Franklin High for Sony Pictures, reports Deadline.
It will be a microbudget film based on the script Sony acquired last year by Dance Of The Dead scribes Gregg Bishop and Joe Ballarini.
“The pic tells the story of a group of disparate high school kids who must band together and save themselves from a supernatural creature during a school lockdown.”
It’a Bender/Spink and Platinum Dunes production.
Outlier and new production partner Pathbender have acquired film and TV rights for the Shadowline/Image Comics graphic novel “Savage,” which pits Bigfoot against a pack of werewolves, TheWrap first reported.
Created by Jeff Frank and co-written by Frank, Dan Wickline and Steve Niles (“30 Days of Night”), “Savage” is a supernatural thriller illustrated by award-winning “X-Men” artist Mike Mayhew.
James Cotten (La linea) is attached to direct the film, which “follows a mysterious killer who is hunting down supernatural creatures. While looking for a prodigy to continue his work, he finds himself in the midst of a battle between the legendary Bigfoot and a pack of werewolves.“
Pathbender’s E. Thompson (Hansel and Gretel Get Baked) and John Adams will produce the movie, while Outlier’s Mark Morgan (The Twilight Saga) will executive produce.
The AP is reporting that a group of thieves dressed as zombies, mummies and Child’s Play‘s Chucky robbed a Mexico City jewelry store Saturday night.
They used handguns and rifles to intimidate the employees, and then made off with chains, bracelets and rings valued more than a million pesos (about $76,500).
“Five individuals wearing zombie, mummy, Chucky and clown costumes, overnight Saturday broke into the shop and using small and larger weapons, subdued employees,” the public safety office said in a statement.
The robbery took place during Mexico’s “Day of the Dead”.
Saying that The Visitor is about a trans-dimensional battle between good and evil is barely coming close to explaining it. You’d be leaving out juicy moments like when Kareem Abdul Jabbar dunks an exploding basketball while team owner Lance Henriksen looks on. Or the fact that Sam Peckinpah plays a doctor. And there’s a wicked scene of ice skating brutality. The hype is true, folks. The Visitor is a blizzard of cinematic madness. Oh, I forgot to mention that a little girl hurls her paraplegic mother through a giant fish tank. That’s a good bit too.
The Visitor was directed by Giulio Paradisi and produced by Ovidio Assonitis, who was a hack, but a talented hack. He was known for his flagrant facsimiles like the 1977 Jaws rip-off Tentacles. In the case of The Visitor, Assonitis (which I can’t help but pronounce in my head “ass on tits”) rips from a hefty lineup of popular movies, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Birds, and Rosemary’s Baby. It never feels like a rip-off, however. For all of its influences, The Visitor feels remarkably fresh and exciting over 30 years later.
The cast is absolutely bonkers and looking at it, it’s obvious that Assonitis had some kind of pull in Hollywood. Or a lot of people owed him money. Acclaimed director John Huston stars as Jerzy, an intergalactic warrior who’s pursuing a descendant of an evil alien named Sateen. This descendent is a little girl named Katy, who is quickly developing supernatural powers. She’s also wicked good at ice skating and has a pet hawk that’s very possessive of her. Kinda like how Damien had those dogs, Katy has a hawk. Katy’s mom is targeted by a group of shady old men who wish to get her pregnant so she can have an evil baby boy. That’s the gist of the plot, I think.
Glenn Ford also stars as a detective. Lance Henriksen plays Katy’s dad and the owner of an Atlanta basketball team. Shelley Winters (Night of the Hunter) plays Katy’s new nanny, who is on to her nefarious little game. Franco Nero is space Jesus. And Sam Peckinpah plays a doctor, but his lines are dubbed probably because he was shitfaced during filming. Seriously, this cast is a enigmatic smorgasbord of talent.
Watching The Visitor may seem like sitting through a collection of random scenes, but it really is a cohesive film. For all of its insanity and exploding basketballs, there’s an engaging story beneath the surface. But once you think you have it figured out, the film jets in a completely different direction. It’s really tough to explain the actual plot, but there are so many consistently entertaining, batshit crazy scenes that whether you’re following along or not, it’s a blast. One particularly amazing scene is the aforementioned ice skating rumble. Katy is doing her thing on the ice when all of a sudden a bunch of teenage boys start messing with her. So she starts absolutely wrecking shit in a volley of telepathic beauty. If you can’t enjoy that scene you may want to check your pulse.
Drafthouse Films has salvaged The Visitor from obscurity and they’re releasing it in theaters this month. This is one to see on the big screen, for sure.
I’ve secretly been working with co-directors Norith Soth and Taka Arai on their found-footage shocker Face, based on the short story by Mikal Britt, and am excited to reveal that the film will be having its World Premiere Wednesday, December 18 at the Another Hole in the Head Film Festival.
In the found-footage horror, “What caused the gruesome aftermath at the Delta Chi Kappa Sorority house on the night of October 31, 2012? This footage is leaked police evidence you are not supposed to watch. It reveals a chain reaction of the most appalling acts ever committed by college kids in American history.” Scott Alin, Ashley Alvarado, and Max Aria star.
There are currently two vastly different variations of the film, with the version I executive produced being included on the home video release in the near future. No matter which version you see, I can guarantee the finale is going to beat the living shit out of your gut. I caught a very early test screening that left me feeling sick, which is how I ended up becoming involved in this bizarre found-footage flick.
Check out some images and a trailer below. Get tix here.
A bizarre quote has begun circulating out of the Toronto Star, who caught up with David Cronenberg, pictured below, at the opening of the “David Cronenberg: Evolutions” exhibit at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Hiding within the feature there’s a hard jab at Stanley Kubrick and his adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, which came out of news that Kubrick will get his own TIFF exhibit next year.
“I think I’m a more intimate and personal filmmaker than Kubrick ever was,” Cronenberg said before throwing a huge blow.
“That’s why I find The Shining not to be a great film. I don’t think he understood the (horror) genre. I don’t think he understood what he was doing. There were some striking images in the book and he got that, but I don’t think he really felt it.
“In a weird way, although he’s revered as a high-level cinematic artist, I think he was much more commercial-minded and was looking for stuff that would click and that he could get financed. I think he was very obsessed with that, to an extent that I’m not. Or that Bergman or Fellini were.”
BRUTAL. Especially considering Kubriuck isn’t around to respond – it’s kind of a dick move in my opinion.
The premise of the upcoming horror comedy They Will Outlive Us All touches on how cockroaches will outlive us all.
Directed by Patrick Shearer, written by Jessi Gotta, and stars Gotta, Nat Cassidy, Alyssa Simon, Gavin Starr Kendall, and Stephanie Cox-Williams, we now have the film’s first trailer.
“New York City. 2016. In the years since Hurricane Sandy, the city has been brought to its knees by a series of ‘Frankenstorms.’ As hurricane season hits yet again, New York braces itself for the oncoming wave of destruction. Roommates Margot and Daniel attempt to survive this ‘new’ New York by avoiding it at all costs. But with the advent of three strange deaths in their Brooklyn building, the world they’ve been hiding from is knocking hard on the back door. They soon discover that the salad days of getting drunk and watching horror movies are behind them because they have a new roommate, and he’s got a real bug up his ass.“
From Two Guys Films comes the trailer for Run Like Hell, which marks the directorial debut of co-owner James Thomas. Get the plot crunch right here right now.
“The film centers on Luke, Maggie, Dan, and Sam, two young married couples in the middle of a cross-country road trip, when they are sidetracked in the desert town of Spaulding. Their car is stolen, prompting them to be taken in by local residents Harold and Nancy. What starts as a place to rest their heads and regroup turns into a fight for their lives, utilizing any and all attempts to Run Like Hell.”
“Run Like Hell is an action-packed horror film that will make you question taking that next road trip. The film shows the gritty side of humanity and has an eerie realism to it that makes you wonder if this type of thing actually happens. An interesting point we make in the film is that horrifying things don’t only happen at night or when no one is looking. They can be happening all around us, at any moment. Sometimes people we would call normal can even do them. And that is what makes them frightening.” – James Thomas, director
Two franchises are about to collide on home video.
Shooting is to begin this December in Bulgaria on Lake Placid vs. Anaconda, Bloody Disgusting learned on the week of the American Film Market.
There are no details yet, although casting is underway.
There have been four Lake Placid films, with the last being the 2012 home video sequel Lake Placid: The Final Chapter. The first, starring Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman, and Oliver Platt, took in $34M for Fox back in 1999.
There are also four Anaconda films, with the last being the 2009 Anacondas: Trail of Blood. Sony’s 1997 Anaconda, starring Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Jennifer Lopez, and Eric Stoltz, made $65M at the box office.
Benaroya Pictures and The Genre Company announced today they have set Samuel L. Jackson to co-star with John Cusack in the apocalyptic thriller Cell, based on the bestselling novel by Stephen King.
Tod “Kip” Williams will direct, with production set to begin in January.
In Cell, Jackson will play Tom McCourt, an engineer and former soldier who escapes from Boston along with Cusack’s character, Clay Riddell, after a mysterious pulse, transmitted by Cell phones, spreads like a virus through the human population.
Samuel L. Jackson most recently co-starred in last year’s Django Unchained and next appears in the upcoming films Oldboy and Robocop as well as Captain America 2: Winter Soldier and The Avengers sequel.
Producing the project are Richard Saperstein (Se7en, Hancock), Michael Benaroya (Lawless, Margin Call), Brian Witten (Chernobyl Diaries, Friday the 13th, Final Destination) and Shara Kay (Silent Night). While President of Dimension Films, Saperstein oversaw the Stephen King adaptations, The Mist, directed by Frank Darabont, and 1408, which also starred Cusack and Jackson, and grossed over $130 million worldwide.
The screenplay for Cell was written by Stephen King and Adam Alleca (Last House on the Left). Edward Mokhtarian, Armen Aghaeian, Xavier Gens, and Laurence Freed will executive produce. Mark Leyner and Ben Insler will co-produce.
Devin Townsend is perhaps the very embodiment of the “mad scientist” when it comes to the metal genre. From Ziltoid The Omniscent to his Devin Townsend Quadrilogy, Townsend’s approach to music is less that of a standard album and more of a theatrical experience where each album has a theme, a continuous string that can be followed so as to make the entirety feel like a journey.
And such is the case with The Retinal Circus, Townsend’s new live album, which takes music from the 20+ year history of his work and sets a story behind it, all to the visual and aural delight of a sold out crowd at the Roundhouse in London, England in a special one-night only event.
Now, this retrospective concert has been released and we take a look at it to see if Townsend’s work is as epic as he aimed for of if he strives for the stratosphere only to come crashing and burning to the ground.
The first thing that should be noticed about this setup is the multi-storied stage production, which allows for the “story” to take place both above the group and in the midst of them, creating a dynamic experience where we’re not sure if the band is part of the narration or are themselves characters in the arc.
Secondly, it’s amazing to see how Devin doesn’t so much perform, rather conducting the entire show, engaging with the audience and the stage cast equally. His charm and enthusiasm are incredibly evident and infectious, his joy-filled smiles nearly splitting his face in half. His jokes and commentary mock the somewhat cheesy nature of the event, poking at the absurdity and joining the audience in on the laughter while still being the master of the joke.
Third, the editing of the DVD is aimed at creating an immersive experience for the viewer. There are times when the edits are specifically done to further the narrative rather than just cut from one band member to another. This allows for the viewing experience to be something far more than just a concert; it becomes a captivating journey, each song a chapter in a book that won’t let you put it down.
The concert opens with legendary guitarist Steve Vai (Townsend was Vai’s vocalist on Sex & Religion) offering a monologue that sets up the story of Harold, the main character of The Retinal Circus. Injecting humor through visuals and cheeky commentary, Vai becomes an integral part of the show, appearing very often before a song to explain the meaning of the next track and how it relates to Harold. Also, creepy clowns come out and pantomime to the audience.
Suddenly, the choir, which is broken in half by the drum kit, burst into “Effervescence” and frequent Townsend collaborator Anneke Van Giersbergen comes onto the stage, her glorious voice soaring as our ringmaster, Devin himself, emerges clad in white. While it’s basically impossible to miss, it does need to be stated that the vocal chemistry between Giersbergen and Townsend can only be described as magical. It’s rare that two voices can mesh so well, even with Townsend shifting from soaring opera to vicious growls, and yet they do.
When the band breaks into “Lucky Animals” it becomes wholly obvious the scope and insanity that is in store for the viewer. Half of the choir cast aside their robes to reveal that they are dressed as animals. They begin prancing around stage, many of them sinuously slipping and sliding on their hands and knees, tails and noses twitching. These animals then face capture and are caged during “Planet Of The Apes” by, you probably guessed it, people in ape costumes, a subtle commentary on how evolution seems to come with a sense of superiority and need to control and contain those that are “below us”.
The audience is given more attention in the next track, “Truth”, while the light show is also on full display. The two choir halves take off their robes to show the one half are wearing DTP shirts while the other half are wearing Ziltoid shirts. This causes the two to mock and taunt each other, the beginnings of a battle that explodes into full force in “War”. It is in “War” that the term “musical theater” fully applies. This is where the concert truly cements its place as an event and not just another gig.
I could go on and on through each song but that would ruin the surprises that are in store for you, the viewer. I’ll say that there are more amazing and bewildering visuals and that things only get crazier from there on out. There is a giant inflatable penis, a large vagina that “births” a Ziltoid baby, skeleton dancers, she-devil temptresses, fire breathers, pole dances, silk acrobats, fascinating aliens that have the same back spires as the Xenomorphs from the Alien series, acoustic performances (“Ih Ah” is nothing short of stunning), and so much more. There isn’t a dull moment in the whole DVD.
Audio-wise, the only gripe I have is that there are times where I wished the vocals of each singer were turned up just a bit. I would also have liked there to be a bit more of the audience in the mix, something to make me feel like I was actually there. Visually the show is crisp and the camera angles plentiful.
A short documentary goes over the process of the event, from inception to actual performance. It’s rather amazing how much of the show was done in the 24 hours leading up to doors opening. It’s also a testament to the madness of Townsend but also to the trust that his band and crew have in him. Instead of worrying that it could not have been pulled off, they gave everything, their full energy and more, to make sure that everything would go as planned.
The Final Word: For fans of Devin Townsend, purchasing a copy of this is a no-brainer. However, for people who aren’t that well versed in Townsend’s work, The Retinal Circus is a perfect entry into the world of his music. It showcases his passions, his theatricality, and, yes, his insane genius while being entirely playful and charming.
IFC Midnight releases Eric England’s twisted horror film Contracted on Friday, November 22nd. Written and directed by England, the film stars Najarra Townsend, Matt Mercer, Alice Macdonald, Katie Stegeman, Simon Barrett, Charlie Koontz, and Caroline Williams.
While it will be available on plenty of VOD outlets (including iTunes, Xbox, PlayStation, Amazon Instant Video, GooglePlay, SundanceNow and more) for folks outside of reasonable driving distance to a theater, you should see it on the big screen if you get chance. And if you live in LA – there’s no excuse not to! We’ll be hosting a special screening on the 22nd at The Downtown Independent (251 S. Main St, Los Angeles, California 90012) at 10PM! I’ll be conducting a Q&A after the film with England and some of the cast! There will also be booze if you’re over 21. You can buy tickets HERE!
I’m also giving away 5 Pairs of tickets! All you have to do to win those is email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me the worst disease you’ve ever had!
See ya there!
A charming ode to Halloween and all things spooky, “Captain Ultimate” #4 is a hilariously fun superhero tale that mixes scares and laughs. Get ready for lots of entertaining action and adventure with the “Captain Ultimate” series. There’s a lot to enjoy in a comic book that has costumed freaks, tricked-out cars, and a psycho punk band.
WRITTEN BY: Benjamin Bailey & Joey Esposito
ART BY: Boykoesh
PUBLISHER: MonkeyBrains Comics
RELEASE: October 30, 2013
Captain Ultimate is babysitting his number one fan, Milo, while his parents are off to their own adult Halloween parties. While Milo is going around, knocking on every door in sight, something else is wandering the streets on Halloween night. A punk band, The Pumpkills, is driving around in their hot rod, causing tons of trouble to the kids. The Pumpkills are really looking for a fight and they’ve got one with Captain Ultimate. The only problem is, Captain Ultimate has to keep himself in disguise during the battle of the bands.
Writers Benjamin Bailey and Joey Esposito develop more of the hero/sidekick relationship between Milo and Captain Ultimate. When the Pumpkills arrive, that’s when Milo jumps into the spotlight. Because he wants to be a hero himself, Milo acts with confidence while being put under pressure. Being a parental figure, Captain Ultimate knows exactly when to step in, without overshadowing Milo. Bailey and Esposito want to show how Milo can defend himself, without getting in over his head.
What’s interesting about the writing from Bailey and Esposito is how they bring back previous characters into the fold. There are a few returning characters that were introduced in the first installment. Continuing with its anti-bullying theme, it turns out Captain Ultimate is protecting the child of one of his hated enemies. Bailey and Esposito are slowly building the mythology with the people Captain Ultimate meets.
I really enjoyed the character designs for the punk band, The Pumpkills, from artist Boy “Boykoesh” Akkerman. The drummer’s entire head is a carved jack o’ lantern. The drummer is always smiling, as if he only has one facial expression. The guitarist has a tattoo right across her knuckles, which spells out, “Rock.” I thought it was really hilarious that these rock stars are getting drunk on root beer backstage.
My favorite of Akkerman’s illustrations is the splash page where Milo, Captain Ultimate, and Mutt are all going trick r’ treating. With a lot of references to popular culture, see if you can spot them all. The children are dressed up as Wonder Woman, Doctor Who, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Ed Ryzowski pays around with color of their body tones, so that the eye can spot the trio as they cover the entire block in one shot.
“Captain Ultimate” #4 is such an enjoyable read with a real message at its heart. Halloween is a fun time to dress up and eat candy, but it’s not cool to act like a bully in front of others. This is not a bad way for kids to be introduced to comics.
Reviewed by – Jorge Solis
Riley Rossmo has made quite a reputation for himself in the comics industry over the past few years. So much so that we recently spotlighted the Canadian artist’s work on “Green Wake” in our Visions of Horror editorial, and we see no reason to stop talking about Riley now. Debuting this Wednesday from Image Comics is a “Drumhellar”, a new surreal/supernatural mystery series from Riley Rossmo and Alex Link (review here).
“Drumhellar” follows the story of a bohemian supernatural investigator and the bizarre world that he inhabits. Riley Rossmo chatted with Bloody-disgusting about his trip to Alberta to find inspiration, his love for small towns, and how surrealism fits into the world of “Drumhellar”.
Bloody-Disgusting: You visited the town of Drumheller, Alberta to find inspiration for the series. What can you tell us about that trip? Did you go with the intention of developing a supernatural mystery?
Riley Rossmo: I went to gather research for a ghost story and to clear my mind and refocus. I spent my days drawing, taking photos, walking, meditating and interacting with locals. I went with the intent of developing a series around what’s in small towns.
BD: What about those rural towns and their inhabitants that appeals to you so much?
RR: I think some of my interest in smaller communities started with Twin Peaks and Green Wake. The idea of smaller communities, especially rural ones, has ingrained itself in my work. I feel more confident building worlds around smaller communities. Some of it is from growing up in a smaller city I think. But a lot is just a feeling I get sometimes visiting smaller towns.
For our anniversary my wife and I visited Nelson BC, which is right in the middle of the rocky mountains. Almost as soon as we got there I had story ideas.
BD: Of the reference photos and sketches you do, how much of that makes it into the book?
RR: A third maybe. Mostly it ends up as atmosphere or something I can go back to if I’m stuck on a page. Also I used a lot for color reference.
BD: You mentioned in your interview with USA Today that have a certain affinity for nature, and how Hayao Miyazaki’s work inspires you. Can you expand on this? Do you feel that there’s something about the supernatural and nature that goes hand in hand?
RR: Spirited Away is one of my favourite films of all time. I love the environmental themes in Miyazaki’s work. His creatures have so much depth and weight to them, every time I watch Spirited away, or Princess Mononoke I feel the need to draw water dragons and stink spirits. It really moves me. Pan’s Labyrinth mixes the natural world with the magical well, as does the Blair Witch Project.
In terms of comics, Swamp Thing is one of the best examples of how well nature can be entwined with the paranormal.
BD: Drum is such a unique character. Can you tell us a bit more about him?
RR: Well initially he was inspired by Peter Venkman but personality wise he’s drifted into a bit more of the Dude from The Big Lebowski mixed with Jiddu Krishnamurti.
BD: There are a few super surreal moments in the first issue. How much of this will come up in later issues? How does it tie to the real world? What’s the deal with the peacock and the golden egg?
RR: Oh it keeps coming up. There are both psychedelic and surreal elements woven through the series. We have to make efforts to ground things in the material world so they don’t get too surreal. Both Padma and Harold act as anchors for Drum. The egg and birds are important. No, as to what’s in the egg…
BD: You and Alex Link manage elements of romance, horror, comedy, and mystery so well. Is it a challenge to draw a book that jumps across so many genres?
RR: Nope, so far it feels right for the kind of world the narrative is building for itself, how it looks, and how the characters behave.
BD: I love Harold the ghost cat. But I also love the bi-sexual werewolf, and the bog man. Because of all these bizarre aspects, the book feels like it is a story that wouldn’t work in any medium other than comics. Is this something you and Alex strive for?
RR: Again the story just kind of built itself. The more we spitballed the more elements presented themselves, but now that you mention it the surreal elements and supernatural elements work easily in the comics medium.
BD: I know you read a lot, and specifically for this you read a lot about consciousness, crime, and the paranormal. How do you sift through all the literature and pull out various elements for your own story?
RR: I make lists of ideas, If one is right for Drum I send it to Alex, then Alex blends em up sends em back I blend em again and regurgitate em and that’s kind of how we’ve been making the book.
BD: While not all your work is horror, it often falls on the darker side of things. Why do you naturally gravitate toward darker stories?
RR: I think for a while it was just a good outlet for all the horrific images and negative thoughts I have. I think lately I’ve been more interested in the surreal punctuated by the horrific.