Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An Explanation and An Interview With the Makers of "The Shadows"

I know, I know... it's been a week since I've posted anything. And without explanation. Well, I foolishly thought that while I have new responsibilities at work, my family was coming to town and Christmas was around the corner, I would still be able to keep up on all my Dead Harvey chores. I was wrong. To quote Arnie, "Dead wrong". So, I'm going to be taking a break, which will make life a whole lot easier, and this will be my last Dead Harvey post until January 3rd. If I have any readers left by then, I hope you'll come back to a reinvigorated Dead Harvey, as I'm hoping to get some time to catch up on some indie horror and readjust my life to fit in everything that I want to fit in.

So... before I take off on my holiday, I want to leave you with a great interview. We had the opportunity to check out "The Shadows", a small budget indie horror and speak with the guys behind it. Now, "The Shadows" isn't your typical no-budget horror. Usually, no-budget horror films hang their hat on gore, nudity or a particular sub-genre, like zombies, vampires or whatever. "The Shadows" was different. "The Shadows" was far more cerebral than almost anything you'd expect from the low-no budget realm. It didn't bank on gore, it didn't bank on nudity and, as far as I could tell, there weren't any zombie outbreaks. There were, however, quite a few decent effects, including some very creepy characters, but that's not what grabbed me about the film. What grabbed me was how well it was put together, how the story was crafted and how they managed to keep my attention to the end... without nudity, gore or zombies. The film is along the lines of "The Sixth Sense" or "The Others" and it should stand out in the low-no indie horror world as something that's unique, different and very well crafted.

Enjoy the interview and have a great holidays!

So, tell us about “The Shadows”, what’s it all about?

Really it's about facing your demons. And a person’s will to live. The plot revolves around five friends who are marooned on an abandoned island with a lighthouse. And although they seem to be close friends with no secrets from each other, their suppressed conflicts and longings, boil to the surface. Ghostly shadow figures threaten to steal away their souls so they must put aside their conflicts and band together to defend themselves against the relentless demonic specters.
It’s also completely dubbed in Spanish and I am really glad that I was able to include a commentary on the film. The script has so many layers and subtleties, so the more you watch it, the more depth you discover. And the commentary helps you see those things. It's very much a ghost story.

The film is definitely a horror, but it’s far different than most indie horror’s that we see, as it’s not really gory and/or excessively violent. Talk about where the idea came from and why you wanted to make it.

Gratuitous violence and gore really aren’t the foundation for a good film. For us a solid, creative story and engaging characters is. Without a good story everything else is pointless. And you have to have characters worth caring about. So we created characters who had real depth with hopes and fears and flaws. It keeps the audience more connected, invested in their individual struggles and on the edge of their seat as each twist reveals that things are more complicated than you thought.

The lighthouse was a key element from the beginning. They have this stigma of eeriness, mystery and something supernatural about them. So we gave it meaning in the story physically and figuratively. We liked the idea of it becoming a character in the story, hiding it's own secrets, being wounded and under attack. It’s a great metaphor. We are all like a lighthouse with both a light and dark side.

If you don’t mind us asking, what was the budget for the film and how did you secure financing?

We sought funding for a long time. Eventually my sister (Dianna Collett) and I (we make up Victory of the People Productions) decided that we were going to have to fund our first major film ourselves. So we spent our life savings to create a film we loved and to propel a production company we believed in.

The only way to make a high-quality film on a low budget is through lots of planning and preparation. The set started construction seven months before shooting. Script re-writes and revisions took place for a year to refine it and intensify the story. Rehearsals began months ahead and most of the cast was completely off-book before shooting began. It was necessary to keep the intensity of each scene. It was like a thrilling play that became a film. I think often film-makers are in such a rush to shoot the film they skip important rehearsal time and it shows in the acting quality. So the emotion in our film is very real. There were nights after shooting that we genuinely had the creeps. It’s awesome.

The film keeps the audience hanging and has a cool twist at the end. Talk about making sure that the twist was effective and did that come in the writing or did it come while shooting?

The foundation of the story really sets up those twists at the end. We knew keeping the audience in suspense was key. And it’s not an easy thing to pull off. But that really started in the writing. It was well captured by Sabrina's direction and the music for the film absolutely sealed the deal. But even with all that, the editor has to know how to show it. We worked hundreds of hours in post-production to get it exactly right. The audience reactions we’ve experienced have been very gratifying.

You used quite a few CG effects, which was very impressive for an indie film. How did you do the effects and what was your favorite?

Yeah, in an earlier version there wasn't much. But the question arose, "Now how can we make it more scary?" We wanted to make the shadows more mysterious and supernatural. It turned into a major project. Since we ran out of funding, I had to learn some of the art of CGI myself. I'm a on-hands producer. I'd rather pay someone to do it if I can, but knowing how it's done makes me a better producer. I also built the set. It helps me to understand all aspects of film-making.

The ending sequence, building up to Nadia's light burst moment, is so powerful. You become panicked for them. It took many adjustments before we got there in post-production but doing it right is more important that just getting it done. I think as a hard-to-please film-maker, if you can watch the final cut of the film and even you feel the drama, the suspense and the fear, then it’s something you are proud to show off.

The sinking ship in the beginning sequence is probably my favorite effect. Though people have to pay attention during the opening credits to notice it. Detail is important.

What are your goals for “The Shadows”? Is it to get a festival run? Are you looking to just get distribution? Are you looking to turn a big profit? What would be your benchmark for success?

We are submitting to festivals but our primary focus is distribution. We're delighted to be working with Midnight Releasing with a release date of January 4th, 2011. They've already secured a deal with a mainstream video store retailer.
We have realistic expectations. Our goal is to get our production company rolling, gather a following and become a profitable business. We've shown that we are committed enough to put our money where our mouth is. We produced a high-quality film on a low budget which is the best way to make a profit. So I think success would be achieving a satisfied audience following and investors willing to help us move to the next level.

Where can people find out more about “The Shadows” and/or get their hands on a copy?

Our IMDB page has clips and review links and where to purchase the film.
Our facebook page has lots of updates and pictures.
Our website has it's own original front-end graphics with details, clips and more about the film.
And our production company website has more information about our slate of film. People can also friend our production company on facebook.

Now, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into indie horror and film?

I think acting and film-making chose me more than I chose it. I was unexpectedly cast in a play when I was a teenager and I loved it. I got more involved in all aspects of stage and by 19, I was directing. By 21 I was building sets and producing. I think fundamentally I love story-telling in all aspects of it. In theater, I have held every crew position imaginable. I chose a more profitable profession for life, but after 25 roles and 40 productions, I decided that rejecting it was rejecting who I really am. There is a motto I really try to live by, "If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it." As a film actor, I wasn't getting the opportunities I should. So I had to start creating those opportunities. And we saw that other talented people were being passed by as well.

Our production company name came from our last name, Collett. It’s derived in French meaning, "Victory of the People." That kind of became the spirit of what we are doing. There are a lot of people who are tired of the big studios putting out the same rhetoric every year; producing yet another sequels or re-do of stories that have been exhausted. They practically fear originality and creativity. We seek to provide what movie-goers long for with a focus on high-quality production value. So we work with investors who are sick of being ripped off. We work with exceptionally talented crew members and actors who are tired of being passed-over and treated like dirt by a studio system that values “who you know” over dedication and skill. So for the audience and for those making the film, it is kind of a revolution, a victory of the people.

Film school: yes or no?

I learn better by doing. I’ve working in most every aspect of film-making and I think that makes a better producer and informed actor. As an actor I go by Alan Collett. As a producer I go by Paul. It helps my alter-egos know what they are doing.

Talk about the indie horror scene, where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

Indie Horror films always have an advantage over the studios. They can tell the stories the studios can’t. But I think the Indie horror scene today is swamped. Audiences are so leery of being scammed with a crappy film because there are so many. And just because there is a name actor in it, doesn’t mean it’s going to be any good. It reminds me of a Louie B Mayer quote, "Anyone can make a movie son, but it doesn’t mean they should." The quality of the production, the acting and especially the story being told is what audiences care about. Screenwriters are so unappreciated today but you can really tell the difference between what a director slapped together and what an experienced writer created.

Since there is so much being produced these days, audiences need a way of knowing what’s actually worth watching. Every time an audience feels cheated, they blame the entire Indie Horror market for it. They need someone they know to tell them what’s good. They need distributors and film companies they can trust to provide quality films. We hope to build that kind of audience that can trust our content.

Are there any other projects in the works?

We are fortunate to be acquainted with a lot of talented people. We have the filming rights to nine more scripts in three genres. We treat our crew and cast like family so when we are gearing up for our next project, they are asking to be on-board even though they usually have to turn down higher paying projects to do so. (Eventually we will be the higher paying project.)

"Truth" is our next feature film which is in post-production about a terrorist cell that kidnaps three Americans and threatens to expose a secret that will shatter America's soul. Our third film is a black comedy, “Technicolor Llama”, which is currently seeking additional funding. We also have other horrors like “Spectacles” and “Ghost Town” and “Hotel Obscuridad” in development. All of which have a supernatural flavor to it. With the right investors, we’ll have a regular slate of films coming out each year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Box Office and the New Horror Out on DVD

Well, it was a very uninspiring weekend at the box office... so, sorry if I didn't jump on reporting on it right away. The top spot went to "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" and the number two spot went to "The Tourist", both were new this last weekend and both drastically underperformed. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" fell to fourth, but has brought in over $250Million to date. Not too shabby. There were a couple of notable limited releases, including "Black Swan" and "127 Hours". Both are getting a lot of buzz, especially "Black Swan", which graced the cover of Fangoria this month, if you can believe it. I think it's opening wide this Friday, so you should go check it out, if you get the chance. As for new releases on DVD this week, there are a few good films coming out. As usual, you can go to our Youtube Page to see the trailers and you can click on the title to be taken to the films Amazon Page, where you can read more about it and/or buy it.

I was pretty sure that the whole torture porn film craze was done after "Captivity" bombed, but they still seem to be pumping them out. "Slave" looks slick, has great production value, a bunch of good looking girls and appears to be well put together... I'm just not sure if the concept is going to fly, but I haven't seen it. A couple is on vacation in Spain and the girl is taken and becomes the trophy of a psycho named the White Arab... the guy does everything he can to find her. I don't know, it doesn't sound terribly original to me, but whatever. It probably has lots of T&A, maybe some decent violence, who knows?

As much as I'm not really a big fan of the Killjoy the demonic killer clown character itself, I'm a huge fan of Charles Band and his brand of horror-humor. So, with that, I'm proud to announce the release of "Killjoy 3". If you didn't know, Killjoy is actually played by Trent Haaga, who is a Troma Vet and writer of "Deadgirl", "Citizen Toxie" and "Raving Maniacs", among others... I like Trent Haaga... I just don't like the Killjoy character. Sorry to anyone who like it. Anyhow, word is that this is the best of the "Killjoy" trilogy. So, if you haven't check in on these films yet, you might as well start here.

Last up is a micro-cinema film out of the UK called "Tuck Bushman and the Legend of Piddledown Dale". What I like about this micro film is that it obviously doesn't try to take itself too seriously. The wigs, make-up and acting are all over-the-top and the plot is insane. Out of work TV presenter/creature hunter, Tuck Bushman, signs up to collect the reward offered by the mayor of Piddledown Dale, as there's some sort of demon creature on the loose. He gets more than he bargains for when he discovers that there's more brewing in the village than tea and some old wounds. As it's micro-cinema and this is Dead Harvey, we have to endorse it... Can't wait to check it out.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Interview with Brett Pierce, writter/director of "Dead Heads"

I have some thoughts as to where the indie horror scene is heading... I mean, I always have thoughts, but recently something is becoming evidently clear.

Over the last five to ten years, the cost of producing an indie film has plummeted. You can now make a good looking film for $5K - $10K. Seriously. I'm not suggesting it as a budget, but I'm saying it can be done. I know a few people who've shot on cameras like the Canon Mark V, in 24 fp and the footage looks astounding. You don't know what the Canon Mark V is? It's an affordable consumer DSLR. Editing programs are a dime a dozen and CG effects are easily learned. There are, however, some hurdles. Good actors are hard to come by, you'll need a good DP, a good sound guy, etc. Having said that, none of that stuff needs to cost you serious money. The monetary boundaries are all but gone. The boundaries that exist now involve skill.

Are you a skilled filmmaker, a skilled writer, a skilled director? Did you get skilled actors and a skilled crew? Truth of the matter is, in the indie world, the men are being seperated from the boys. There are top-notch films coming out of the indie world and they are going to tank the amateur hour stuff. Good thing? You bet. It's time that the indie world starts pumping out quality films because, soon enough, the rest of the industry is going to take notice. Brett Pierce's "Dead Heads" is a great example of a quality film that's coming out of the indie world. Watch the trailer and check out the production quality, the acting, the effects and the originality of the story. I don't know what the budget actually is, but they did it on their own. Everything about the film looks awesome and I can't wait to check it out. We had the chance to discuss "Dead Heads" with Brett and he offers up a great interview...

So, tell us about “DeadHeads”, what’s it all about?

DEADHEADS is about two zombie pals, Mike and Brent, who embark on a cross country road trip in search of Mike's long lost girlfriend. As they adventure their way across the midwest they are pursued by a group of zombie killin' bounty hunters. It's a zombie/buddy/adventure/horror/comedy with a little romance for good measure.

Okay, first off… self aware, rationalizing zombies? Is that a first?

It's not. Some other films have done some great stuff with self aware zombies. What I think is original about DEADHEADS is that it's an adventure movie as much as it's a zombie movie. My brother and I really wanted to make Mike and Brent hilarious but endearing characters. We wanted to John Hughes-up our zombies. I've seen some great self aware zombie films but I feel these are the first zombies I'd want to hang out with.

The film looks to be remarkably unique – I can honestly say that I’ve never heard of, let alone seen, a zombie-buddy road trip film. Where did the idea come from and talk about developing the idea into a film

Drew and I were living in LA working as interns and PA's and barely scraping by. We had a few scripts we we're blindly shopping around but we were nobody's, nobody cared. We realized that even if we were lucky enough to sell one of these we'd never get to direct it. So we started writing DEADHEADS which was something we could produce independently. Drew and I had grown up on the set of EVIL DEAD. Our father was the photographic FX artist for the original one. What we took from watching Dad, Sam and the guys is that horror and comedy works and that we don't need a big name attached to get people to watch. Everybody likes to laugh and everybody likes something a little creepy or scary. We had made a "no money" feature just out of high school that we co-directed with 3 other friends. It had a few talking zombies in it and that was our favorite part of that film. So we scribbled down "talking zombies" and that's how it really got started. All the other elements of the story we're inspired by our love of 80's adventure flicks like THE GOONIES, BACK TO THE FUTURE and STAND BY ME. We knew we had one shot at this and we just kept writing and rewriting out of fear of failure. Everyday we'd write, argue, and just grill each other about every scene. "Is this funny? Is this exciting? Are the characters working?"

If you don’t mind us asking, what was the budget for the film and how did you secure financing?

Umm....Less than Avatar? We just asked anybody and everybody. It was a 2 year process. We put together investor info packs and a pitch and took hundreds of meetings and pieced it together.

Where are you at with the film now and what’s next for the film?

We actually just finished post production. It's done, wrapped. We actually still can't believe it. It's been about 5 years of our lives.

What are your goals for “Dead Heads”? Is it to get a festival run? Are you looking to just get distribution? Are you looking for a theatrical release? What would be your benchmark for success?

We're currently submitting for fests and meeting with distributors with the intent of getting a theatrical release. The benchmark for success for us is when somebody approaches us after seeing the flick and they just wants to meet our buddies Mike McKiddy and Ross Kidder (Mike and Brent in DEADHEADS). They're so excited to meet them and they just see them as the characters in the movie. It reaffirms us why we want to make movies. I just hope we get to do it again.

Where can people find out more about “Dead Heads” and is there a trailer that people can check out?

Best place to keep up on the movie is Facebook and Twitter. We're updating constantly. We also have a trailer posted. Here ya go!




Now, tell us a bit about yourselves. How did you get in to indie horror and film?

We'll we grew up amid EVIL DEAD and that put the bug in us to make movies. In high school and into college Drew and I made shorts, mock trailers for movies we wanted to make, and "no money" features we'd shoot on weekends with friends for fun. We made dramas, comedies, horror shorts, sci-fi and etc. Making the horror and comedy stuff was the most fun. You get to make fake blood, throw cow innards at your actor buddies, and you just get to play. It's a blast! After that we headed to LA with big dreams and quickly realized that Hollywood was not going to make our movie for us. We we're going to have to go do it on our own and prove we could do it.

Film school: yes or no?

I'm in the middle on film school. I think it really works for some people. I think the best thing you can get out of it is the people you meet who share the same dream as you. The flipside for me is that it's really expensive. You wrack up a lot of debt that you could instead wrack up on an indie flick you make. I didn't go to film school. I feel my film school was back home in Michigan when I got to work with all my buddies making those "no money" features and shorts. I learned so much doing that. But that's just me.

Talk about the indie horror scene, where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

It's exploding. I can't believe how amazing some things are starting to look. The jump in quality of cinematography and special effects is astounding. They've been saying for years that the tech was coming for anyone to make a movie. It's here. But cameras and computers don't equal good storytelling. We just have no excuses anymore about not having the ability to achieve quality post production.

Are there any other projects in the works?

We have a adventure/comedy script called DORKS & DICE written we would love to do. It's a reality meets fantasy epic with heroic nerds at the center. We love nerds. We've actually plotted it as a trilogy. Dreaming big here. We also have a good and nasty werewolf script called NEVER CRY WOLF. Straight horror. We want to make werewolves scary again. The other one we're currently working on is a horror/comedy based around Halloween tentatively titled "ALL HALLOW'S EVE" but that will name will probably change. Our priority is getting DEADHEADS out there though. Our cast and crew killed themselves making this movie and we love it to death. We can't wait to get it up there on the screen.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Weekend at the Box Office AND the new horror out on DVD

I can't even come up with anything to say about the box office, we're right in the apres-Thanksgiving, en route to Christmas period where everything is family oriented. "Tangled" pulled in over $20Million, jettisoning it past "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1". The next "Chronicles of Narnia" film comes out this Friday, along with the romantic thriller "The Tourist", starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. The near future doesn't look that bright, either. I've heard it's going to suck, but some of you may be interested in "Tron Legacy", which comes out on the 17th. After that... no joke, you're going to have to wait until February for a genre film. Films that are getting buzz, and may be worth checking out, include "The Fighter" and "Black Swan". "The Green Hornet" comes out January 14th - I'm luke warm on it, I don't know. It's enough to make you just sit at home and watch DVD's, but it's been a while since there's been a really exciting week. There are a couple good, new indie horror's to check out, though.

As usual, you can go to our Youtube Page and check out all the trailers and you can click on the titles to be taken to the films page on Amazon where you can read more and/or buy it.

Okay, everyone went absolutely batshit over "Inception" and, I don't know what to tell you... it didn't blow up my skirt. Christopher Nolan is awesome, the effects were unreal and the concept was pretty f'ing cool. HOWEVER, after that, I thought it was fairly basic and run-of-the-mill. For me, it was one of those films that, had no one told me anything, I would've loved it. But, because everyone said it was so awesome, I was let down. That and it had gaping plot holes and outright didn't make sense at times.

Okay, so the title sounds like an Asylum film and the cover art looks ridiculously low-budget, but... the trailer for "Hunter Prey" actually looks alright. It's from Sandy Collora, who made "Batman: Dead End" and the quality is fantastic, the cinematography looks unreal and it looks to be a cool throwback to 70's and 80's sci-fi. I'm not sure how the film came about, but I'm definitely interested in checking it out. Looking around, he put together some wicked posters... like the one above. I have no clue why the went with the cover art that they did. I'm going to have to look deeper into this film.

I'm not sure why "Fistful of Brains" is being released now... they either decided to rerelease it themselves with new cover art OR they sold it to a distributor and they changed up the cover art and rereleased it. I'm hoping, for Christine Parker's sake, that they got it picked up. Not only have I seen "Fistful of Brains", we interviewed writer/director Christine Parker about it around a year ago. You can find a link to our interview here.

"300 Killers" looks to be a very ambitious micro-cinema film. I don't want to call it a horror, but it definitely has horror elements. It's more like a gory, sci-fi action film or something. Anyhow, it's about a near future where drugs and crime have risen 500% and people are forced to take back the streets from the bloodthirsty drug cult. The killers look awesome, the action looks great. I'd love to check this out and talk with the filmmakers... I may have to look into this further, too. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Interview with Mark Bessenger, writer/director of "Bite Marks"

If you're wondering why I didn't post anything about new horror DVD's on Tuesday, it's because... amazingly... only 1 new horror DVD came out - "Voodoo Cowboys" - and it's currently out of stock. "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" also came out, but I don't really need and/or want to talk about it. "Voodoo Cowboys" is a micro-cinema horror and it looks great - has Debbie Rochon in it, lots of zombie killing by backwoods hicks, what else do you need? However, instead of me talking about it, you should just go to The Dark Roast Releasing site, where you can read all about it AND check out the trailer. Why do the work when they can do it for me?

Now that I've got that out of the way, let's get to the main event - our interview with Mark Bessenger. We had the chance to talk with him about his upcoming film, "Bite Marks". Now, I haven't seen it, as they're currently in post-production, but I have seen the trailer and I'm really looking foward to checking it out. Production value is high, the acting looks superb and Bessenger seems to mesh together a lot of different ideas while keeping genre fans happy. It's a great interview, so make sure you give it a read!

So, tell us about “Bite Marks”, what’s it all about?

BITE MARKS is a horror-comedy about a truck driver named Brewster whose brother has disappeared and must take over his cross-country delivery of a load of coffins to a funeral home. Along the way, to help stay awake, he picks up a pair of gay hitchhikers who are having relationship problems. He immediately dislikes Cary, but is uneasy that he finds himself attracted to David. When their GPS misleads them into a junkyard and the truck breaks down, nightfall reveals that the coffins contain vampires. Hungry ones! Now, the mismatched trio must barricade themselves in the cab of the truck and try to survive the bloodsuckers--and each other--until dawn.

Now, you’ve mixed two genres together that usually don’t get mixed together ‘gay indie’ and ‘horror-comedy’. When you came up with the idea, what came first? The gay angle or the horror angle? Where did the whole idea come from?

My cousin Jennifer (who was hired as unit production manager) married a man whose family owned a scrapyard. The idea of setting a horror movie there tantalized me, and the thought of defending yourself from monsters in that location grew into the story that I wrote. Originally, the hitchhikers would be a straight couple, boyfriend and girlfriend. When we started our company, Blakk Flamingo Pictures, the executive producer asked me to pitch him two ideas. He liked them both, but wanted our first film to have some gay characters in it. I could do it for BITE MARKS, but not the other movie, so we went with BITE. Boyfriend/girlfriend Jack and Angie became Cary and Vogel, and that was that.

You managed to secure horror veteran Stephen Geoffreys, from “Fright Night”, “976-EVIL” and “Sick Girl”, for a role in the film. How did that come about?

I was discussing with a friend whether or not having a "name" in low budget films like you saw in the 80's straight-to-video releases was still relevant. My friend thought it couldn't hurt, and we began speculating on who would do something like this. Several names were tossed out, but then I remembered that I had seen Stephen Geoffreys in SICK GIRL mere days before and realized that he would be the perfect actor for our "name". I found him on MySpace, he asked to read the script, and then he was in! I was elated! His films, especially FRIGHT NIGHT, are truly favorites of mine.

If you don’t mind us asking, what was the budget for the film and how did you secure financing?

I can only say that it was under $250,000 (waaaay under), and we had to apply for the Screen Actors Guild's Low-Budget Independent Film Agreement to get a couple of SAG actors on board, and that is the budget limit to be able to do that. As to the financing, a friend of mine who owns a very successful bar put up the funds after reading the script.

What state are you at with the project right now and talk a bit about getting to this stage.

I did a several months of pre-production and we shot in southern Indiana for 17 days with mostly Los Angeles talent and an Indiana crew. The film stars Windham Beacham of LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP and BACK SOON fame. Porn starlet Krystal Main plays our vampire girl. Most of the supporting actors were also local. It wasn't an easy shoot, but it wasn't as hard as most films I've been on. Filming was done on the Canon 5D Mark II, which looks like a still camera but shoots true HD and at 24p. The footage is amazing. The movie is funny, scary, sexy and gory, and it is currently nearing the end of post-production. The picture is almost locked. At the last minute, I decided upon an animated opening credits sequence a la NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, so that put us behind schedule. The film is also being scored, so we're waiting for that, as well.

What are your goals for “Bite Marks”? Is it to get a festival run? Are you looking to just get distribution? Are you looking to turn a big profit? What would be your benchmark for success?

I would love to see the film get a festival run. I think audiences will enjoy it. We want it to be distributed, of course, and though I suspect it will be strictly dvd and On Demand, the ultimate goal for me would be a theatrical release of some sort, no matter how small. That would make my day, night and another day.

Where can people find out more about “Bite Marks” and is there a trailer that people can check out?

People who are interested can find out more about the film at our website, blakkflamingopictures.com, where they can see photos and read blog entries by myself and the cast. The trailer is posted there, but they can also see it on YouTube by doing a search on "bite marks teaser trailer". They can also join our Facebook Fan Page by searching on "Bite Marks" the Movie".

Now, tell us a bit about yourselves. How did you get in to indie horror and film?

I've always been a horror fan ever since a young age. One day, when I was six, I came home from school and found my mother watching THE REVENGE OF THE CREATURE on the Channel 3 Afternoon Movie. I was hooked from then on. I collected books, records, posters, magazines, everything I could find on horror. I bought all the Aurora monster model kits (both regular AND glow-in-the-dark versions!) and when I got a Super 8mm projector for Christmas, I started buying the old Castle Films compilations of classic Universal monster movies. Once, when I was snooping in the hall closet, I found a case with my mother's old 8mm home movie camera in it and got her to buy me some film. I began shooting my own little movies, which were all horror or fantasy-related. In 1980, I dropped out of college and opened one of the first home video stores in the area, which I ran for a year, then decided to try my hand at being a filmmaker, so I sold the store, went back to school and got my bachelor's degree in Creative Writing and my master's in Film. I shot two indie features, but couldn't find distribution for either, so I came to Los Angeles and opened a video production company that makes industrials and training films. The opportunity to make features came along, and here I am!

Film school: yes or no?

I'm not sure if you're asking me if I went or if I recommend one to go, but in either case, the answer is "yes." I went to Columbia College Chicago for my master's specializing in screenwriting. Would I recommend it? I think so. You do get hands on experience with equipment and professionals helping you learn what to do, but the best thing is the contacts you will make. People who think like you and are willing to help you make your films. This can be invaluable. I met Mark Pavia, the director of THE NIGHT FLIER, there, and we've been best buds ever since.

Talk about the indie horror scene, where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

Well, as exploitation films were incorporated into Hollywood moviemaking, so is the indie film scene. You have big studios making small pictures, so they are kind of drawing the same ideas that normally only indie filmmakers would/could do. Plus, now with HD camcorders and Final Cut Pro so affordable, you are seeing a glut of indie product. The problem is, most filmmakers are only interested in doing gross makeup effects or getting girls to show their boobs onscreen, not caring about the story. That's why whenever I see another indie zombie film on Netflix, I cringe, because I know it's going to be all about "How can we show zombies eating people in a new way?" and they can't figure it out and shoot anyway, and you get the same old thing, resulting in the indie horror film scene spinning its wheels in the same muddy hole. There are some filmmakers doing new and interesting stuff, but they're few and far between.

Are there any other projects in the works?

Yeah, I have two projects buzzing around the greenlighted starting line. One, the most likely to go next, is the other picture I pitched, a spin on the slasher genre, but more like PSYCHO than FRIDAY THE 13TH (which I both love). It's more terror and suspense than gross-out. The other is a gay romance set during WWII. Whichever one I do next, I know it will be a blast to do and hopefully, the audience will think so, too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Tribute to Leslie Nielsen and a Look at the Box Office

Before we talk about the Box Office, I'd like to take a moment to remember the late-great Leslie Nielsen, who passed away yesterday. There's a lot that you can take away from him... and I'm serious. The guy was in his 50's when "Airplane!" came out and it completely rejuvenated his career... prior to that, he was a serious actor playing serious roles and then came the role of Dr. Rumack in "Airplane!", directly followed by the infamous character, Lt. Frank Drebin. He had always wanted to do comedy, but it wasn't in the cards... until "Airplane!". Goes to show that it's never too late. He was working all the way to the end, too. He was doing some voice work for an upcoming film and had made some guest appearances on various TV shows. Surely, he will be missed... and he will, but don't call him Shirley.

The results at the Box Office got me thinking... Horror, action, sci-fi and like-minded genres are crying out for an alternative market. I mean, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" continued to dominate and "Tangled", the 3D Disney animated take-off on "Rapunzel", tore into the theaters right behind it. A distant third? "Burlesque" Way down at the 7th place? The 70's inspired Dwayne "Don't call me The Rock" Johnson vehicle, "Faster". When I talk about an alternate market, it comes from this question - Is there really room for smaller, original, niche genre films on the big screen?

The answer, really, is no. The studios really just want franchise films and films that cater to as broad an audience as possible. This is bad times for genre fans and, especially bad times for aspiring filmmakers of genre films... or is it? My thought is, the market needs to change. Fans of genre films aren't going anywhere. If anything, that market is growing. However, it's tough to cater to that market with one big film, you know what I mean? All horror fans wouldn't be satisfied by one big studio horror film, but almost all fans of family films would be satisfied by something like "Tangled" or "Harry Potter". So, a new market needs to be made and, obviously, the market has to be in home entertainment.

That home entertainment market is growing and changing, but it hasn't hit a tipping point yet. I've noticed new indie horror films on Netflix's streaming service, there's lots of new web-based horror series' and Amazon is filled with new horror. Having said that, it hasn't hit critical mass. Change is coming, though... it's just not coming fast enough for me.

Speaking of new horror on DVD, check back in tomorrow and we'll see what's coming out this week.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Interview with Jason Horton, writer/director of "Monsters in the Woods"

We've now spoken with Jason Horton three times. Once for his awesome horror anthology, "Edges of Darkness", once for "Trap" and, now, for his upcoming film, "Monsters in the Woods". So, what can I say about Horton, aside from the fact that I've been overly impressed with everything of his that I've had the pleasure of watching? The guy knows how to make a little budget look like a lot of budget, he's extremely diverse and he knows how to tell a story. Long and short, he's one talented and dynamic independent filmmaker. Having said that, he's still going through a lot of the trials and tribulations that we all go through. Namely, how do you get paid to do this? All said, I'm very excited to check out his new flick, "Monsters in the Woods", and I hope it brings him piles of success, as it looks to be the best piece of work that he's done... which says a lot. We're very happy to have had the chance to discuss the film with him here and, as usual, he gives a great interview that every indie filmmaker should read.

This is your third film and this is the third time that we’ve talked with you. So, tell us about your latest film, “Monsters in the Woods”. What’s it all about?

Monsters will be my fourth movie, we'll get into that in the next question. It's about a micro-budget movie crew that treks into the wilderness to shoot horror scenes in order to convert their unsellable indie-drama into a horror flick. They soon find themselves besieged by real monsters.

Where did you get the idea for “Monsters in the Woods”?

Monsters in the Woods was born out of much personal and professional turmoil. Personally, I was going through an extremely hard break-up. A lot of that personal strife ended up in the movie in different ways. Then professionally, I had just finished Trap. Which was my best piece of work up to that point. Of course it was also my hardest to sell. Distributor after distributor said "I love it. It's great, but we just can't sell it." It was and indie DRAMA, with no name actors, gratuitous violence or nudity. One distributor talked to me about the project for over an hour. He loved the movie, but of course couldn't sell it. He suggested I cut horror scenes into it and turn it into a creature feature. I was desperate and considered it for a quick second, then came to my senses. However, the idea was so ridiculous, I thought it would make a movie. That was the genesis of Monsters in the Woods.

It looks like you mix “found footage” with live action. Talk a bit about your decision to use “found footage” and how you can effectively mix between that and regular live action footage. It has to be a bit tricky.

That was one of my major reasons for doing the movie. I didn't want to make another stale "found footage" movie and didn't want to make the kind of creature feature I was satirizing. So I decided to use the "found footage" in what I think it a fairly clever way. The movie, like most, is broken up into three acts. I start out in the "movie within a movie" then transition to the "found footage" stuff. It's all from the perspective of the Behind the Scenes camera. It remains found footage throughout the 1st act and then transitions to "real" footage for the 2nd and 3rd acts. The acts also come together in a pretty cool way, structurally speaking. Another main inspiration was the fact that I was shooting a horror movie in complete daylight. There are no night scenes. This is basically due to budget. We couldn't afford the lights to light a night shoot in the woods proper. So I needed a good, creative way to give the movie some visual levels, so that it didn't get stale (a common problem with indies.)

What stage are you at with the project right now and talk a bit about how you got to this stage.

I'm in post production. I've finished a few sales trailers and am starting the actual cut this week.

This has been the hardest production I've ever been a part of. There was On set and behind the scenes drama, money issues, set backs, reshoots, revolving cast, script changes during production. Definitely the roughest time I've had making a movie, but the end result is the best work I've done. I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

What are your goals for “Monsters in the Woods”? What is the new benchmark for success for you?

I need for it to make some real money. I've sold all my other features, except Trap and made some money. However, I'm still scraping by, paycheck to paycheck, with my day job. I'm well over 30 now. The grind of making movies while still working another job is starting to take it's toll. I'm not sure how many more micros I have left in me.

Where can people find out more about “Monsters in the Woods” and is there a trailer that people can check out?

For now, folk can like us on Facebook.

I also update my blog with Monsters stuff and moviemaking antidotes almost daily, you can find that here.

and finally monstersinthewoods.com should be up before the end of the following week (Ted's note - it's up now).

Now, let’s go back a bit. Last time we spoke, you were working on “Trap”, your second film. What’s happened since then?

My Executive Producer on Monsters in the Woods asked me to pull Trap from it's languid self-distribution in order to sell it on the coat tails of Monsters in the Woods. It is after all the inspiration for Monsters and is even mentioned as the movie they are converting into a horror flick.

You’ve come a long way since your first film, “Edges of Darkness”. In your opinion, where have you evolved most as a filmmaker since then.

Thanks. I think the cool thing about my work, is that there is growth that you can plainly see between every movie. Like them or not, you can't dispute that the work gets better.

We’ve gotta ask, as it’s been about a year since we last asked… where do you think the indie horror scene is at now and where do you see it going?

I really don't know. I think that there will always be a market for horror and it seems to be thriving now. I just don't know how we're going to make any money doing it.

Are there any other projects in the works?

As always, I have a bunch of scripts. I've gotten a few more pitch meetings lately with big and small companies, but no deal yet. My plan now is to see what happens with Monsters in the Woods and go from there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Weekend at the Box Office AND the new horror DVD's of the week

Sorry folks, there was some work being done at my place and I was cut off my computer. So, no posts over the last two days. I now have access again and I'm going to get caught up in one post... just watch.

Last weekend at the Box Office... no surprise, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" opened huge. $125Million huge, which blew the last one out of the water. This is the seventh film of the franchise and the franchise has now pulled in over $1.8Billion, which means it's closing in on Star Wars. The unprecedented thing that Warner Bros did was they took the last book of the series and split it into two films... this is the last book, remember. Apparently, "Twilight" is taking a page from their playbook with the last book of that franchise, as well. What does all this mean? It means that Warner Bros is going to be scrambling to find another franchise soon... and it also means that the gap between studio films and indies is just continuing to widen. More than ever, they're dependant on bankable franchises that bring in consistent money... not going to be taking chances on first time directors or spec scripts any time soon.

Now, on to the new DVD's this week. Truth of the matter is, cut out the double packs, rereleases and special DVDTee's... there's only three new movies and one of them is a 50 minute porn. I will mention these three film collections that are coming out because there's some good films in there and the prices are right - ranging from $8.99 to $10.99... and that's for multiple films! The first is a Blu-ray two pack of "Angel Heart" and "Johnny Handsome" , the next is a DVD four pack of "Dark Town", "Godsend", "Martin" and "Modern Vampires" and the last, and best, is a DVD four pack of "American Psycho", "Fall Time", "Confidence" and "Rain of Fire". Now, on to the new films. No trailers on our Youtube Page this week, as none of them were available, but you can click on the films titles to be taken to their Amazon Page where you can read more and/or buy the film.

I'm not really sure why they classified "Blues" as a horror, but it does sound like it could get violent. It's from Sundance Film Fest alum, Brandon Sonnier, and it's about two wannabe thugs that duck into a Blues bar and end up on an intense journey of self discovery... and then the situation explodes into violence. Even if you'll only watch horror, this is worth checking out because it's a one-room drama that has only a handful of actors. You want to make a low-budget film look good? Use that formula.

"Diary Of A Sex Offender" comes from director John Niflheim and is distributed by Independent Entertainment. It's a low-budget indie and it's about a sex offender who offends... sexually. The guy who did this whole sub-genre best was Shane Ryan, with the "Amateur Porn Star Killer" series and, quite frankly, I didn't get into that... and Ryan did full-on porn in his version. Anyhow, if you're in to the simulated rape scenes and all that, feel free to check it out.

"Vampire Sisters" costs $29.95, is only 50 minutes long and stars Anastasia Pierce and Arial X. If you're interested, Anastasia Pierce is an international fetish model, specializing in bondage, and Arial X is a porn star. So... I think you can guess what you're getting here. Surprisingly, I couldn't find the trailer online.

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Horror Out on DVD this Week

Okay, finally... let's get to the new horror that came out on DVD this week. It may not seem like a good week because there's only 9 releases, but there is some good shit coming out. I'll quickly mention the rereleases, as there's only 3 of them... there's the Criterion edition of the classic "The Night of the Hunter", "The Twilight Zone: Season 2" comes out on Blu-ray, as does "Children of the Corn". All are classics... just not sure I'd pay $70 to see season 2 of "The Twilight Zone" on Blu-ray. Anyhow, let's get to the new releases. As usual, you can click on their titles to be taken to their Amazon page, where you can read more and/or buy them, plus you can go to our Youtube Page and watch all the trailers.

Let's start with "Don't Look Back", which is your typical non-new wave French horror. Meaning, it's overly dramatic and brooding. Don't expect "Martyrs" or "Inside" with this one. It's from Marina de Van and it's about an author that seems to descend into madness, questioning everything. Think Lynch or Cronenberg with more moody music, slow moving scenes and French people.

I couldn't find the trailer for "A Lure: Teen Fight Club", but I really wish I could have. This is the craziest mash-up of pop horror films that I've ever heard of. An undercover female detective enters high school, where she tries to blend in, because she's looking in to why a group of high school co-eds have gone missing. It turns out that they've all be lured and imprisoned in a horrifying hideout... where, obviously, they're being forced to fight each other to the death. There's a bit of "Fight Club" in there, some "21 Jumpstreet", a bit of "Hostel", a touch of "My Sweet Psycho 16"... I love it.

Horror legends Sig Haig and Michael Berryman star, or, should I say, are featured, in "Haunted Casino", which also has something to do with Charles Band. Amazon says it's from Wizard Entertainment, but I think the trailer said it was from Full Moon... which would explain the Charles Band connection. Anyhow, the film has Charles Band all over it, with creepy muppets and goofy, gore-filled characters.

I wish I could find out more about "The Box of the Dead", too... which looks to be good-old micro-cinema at its best. Writer/director William E Cheney is quite bold, as he calls it "the most disturbing film of 2010"... and he may be right, I haven't seen it. I do like the tag line, though - "The story of two losers and their horrific deaths". Alright, I'll bite. I want to know more...

"Texas Frightmare Massacre" is another low-budget film that looks awesome. Writer, director and producer Joe Francis actually shot it live during the Texas Frightmare weekend. It's about Max, who goes to a horror convention with his step sister and her jerk boyfriend, who end up colliding with a couple of security guards... dirty jokes, sex and violence ensue. The trailer has piles of sex, so I can only imagine what the feature is like.

Last up is "Exhibit A", which uses everyones favorite shooting style - first person found footage. The film is out of the UK and it was actually quite successful, from what I understand. It's always good to check these out, as first person shooting is so much easier and cost effective that setting up cameras traditionally. You know what they say, watch how people use the style successfully... and then copy it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"The Frolic" Now Available Via Online Download!

The horror DVD's of the week are going to have to wait until tomorrow, as we wanted to make sure we posted this today - Jacob Cooney's fantastic short film, "The Frolic", is now available via online download. Dead Harvey had the opportunity to interview Cooney about the film and you can access that here. It's an audio interview, so just sit back, relax, and click the links to listen to the soothing sounds of Brad drinking while interviewing Jacob.

If you want to know more about the new release of "The Frolic" and hear what Cooney's been up to, here's the press release...


THE FROLIC, Thomas Ligotti’s iconic horror short story turned short film, is now available via online download at both FILMBABY.COM and AMAZON.COM.

Directed by Jacob Cooney and Produced by Jane Kelly Kosek (Wonder Entertainment), THE FROLIC follows the story of Dr. David Munck, a prison psychologist, who uncovers a deadly supernatural force in one of his inmate patients, which ultimately leads him to his breaking point.

Starring Maury Sterling (John Doe), Michael Reilly Burke (Dr. Munck), Jennifer Aspen (Leslie Munck) and Kailey Swanson (Colleen Munck), this short film has played in numerous film festivals including the Cannes Film Festival, Los Angeles International Short Films Festival, Dead by Dawn Film Festival, Shriekfest and Dances with Films and has frighten audiences across the world.

According to Stephen Jones (World Fantasy Award-winning author), “Jacob Cooney's film version of THE FROLIC, from a script co-written by Ligotti himself, is a masterful slice of psychological horror given a creepy supernatural twist. This is a little gem of twisted terror.”

THE FROLIC is available for download at the following locations. Hope you enjoy.



Cooney's got a lot of other great things going on as well. He describes all the cool projects he's currently juggling below. We can't wait to see them. Keep up the great work Jacob!

JC: "I recently co-wrote, directed and exec produced the television comedy pilot REHAB FOR REJECTS starring Maury Sterling (A-Team, Smokin' Aces, The Frolic), Adam Edgar (Chasing Midnight, Me and Her), April Billingsley (Andre the Butcher, Hellphone), Evan Arnold (Chasing the Clown, West Wing), and Richard Reihle (Office Space). It is about a young man who is court ordered to attend a rehab facility that specializes in odd addictions. You can check out the official pilot on funnyordie.com

Cooney's also finished the first draft of a script for State Street Pictures (Faster, Barbershop, Men of Honor) called WANT.

JC: "It is basically the re-envisioning of Indecent Proposal with more of a thriller edge."

He's also attached to direct a film titled GRASS LAKE

JC: "This film is an indie thriller about a group of four friends in their 30’s who go on a fishing trip. But when they find a package of marijuana and one hundred fifty thousand dollars cash, they discover that even lifelong friendships have their limits. We are currently going out to cast and also searching for potential investors for the project."

For more info on the film, here is the link to the film's facebook page

Cooney's also in development on a drama he co-wrote titled FAREWELL TO THE NIGHT, a werewolf horror film titled WOLF'S DEN, a horror comedy titled EXTRA DELIVERY, as well as a newly brainstormed untitled low budget psychological horror film about "a socially awkward shut-in who befriends an odd membrane/organism that's growing out of his bathtub drain. Some fantastic ideas and great things happening here. If anyone would like to invest in "Grass Lake" check out Cooney's short. He can be contacted via facebook. He's most certainly got the filmmaking chops for the job.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Weekend at the Box Office, Genre Films Stink it Up

So, the genre film, "Skyline", didn't exactly light anything on fire. "Megamind", the 3D animated film from Dreamworks stayed in the number one spot and the new Denzel Washington, 'train-out-of-control' film, "Unstoppable", came in second. "Due Date" slipped to third and the afore mentioned sci-fi film, "Skyline", came in fourth... grossing a meagre $11Million. As "Skyline" is really the only thing of interest to me, I'll take a closer look at it.

First, let's look at the positive... which isn't much. The biggest positive is the fact that it only had a budget of $10Million. So, it grossed over its budget on the first weekend. That means that, in the end, it should be a money maker. Between international gross, a few more lingering weeks at the box office, an early DVD release and so on and so on, it'll make some cake. What's remarkable to me is that an effects driven film like this cost only $10Million. That means one of two things... either the cost of doing the effects have come way down or there just isn't a lot of effects in the film. Like, ten years ago, a shot of a spaceship sucking up thousands of people would be enough to bring hoards of people to the theater. Now, not so much...

Okay, so let's look at the negative... why did it do so poorly? Well, there's a lot of things to hang your hat on here. No big stars, a flat and generic plot, it's PG-13, poorly written... I mean, really, how could they have expected it to do anything? When you think about it, why was the film even made? If you're not going to get a big star and if you're not going to push the envelope on at least one front, what do you expect? Really, it sort of annoys me when resources are blown on bad projects. Compare this to "District 9". "District 9" had no big stars, but the film was written brilliantly. Not only that, it pushed the envelope on alien films, turning things on their head. If you're going to get in this arena, you should be ready to play - be daring, push it. It's a shame that "Skyline" didn't. There's plenty of fledgling indie screenwriters and filmmakers that could've tweaked the story enough to make it work. I'm sure of that.

Anyhow, genre films are notably absent from big screens for the next little while. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" comes out on Friday, as well as "The Next Three Days". Both should gobble up plenty of dough. If you can find it, a little sci-fi/horror film from the UK called "Heartless" is getting a very limited release... VERY limited. I think it's out on about 5 theaters. If you're lucking enough to live in a city that's getting it, you should go check it out. Otherwise, this week looks to have a couple of interesting indie's coming out on DVD, so check back in tomorrow!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Interview with Screenwriter Danek S. Kaus

It's been a while since we spoke with Max Perrier, the producer, cinematographer and director of the indie film, "The Ante". We spoke with him in early 2009 and the film actually came out in 2006. It's a great indie film and if you want to read our interview with Perrier, you can click here and if you want to find out more about the film, you can click here to go to its page on IMDB.

Anyhow, not too long ago, I received an email from one of the writers of "The Ante", Danek S. Kaus. Kaus not only wrote that screenplay, but he's a represented writer that's been hired to adapt books into screenplays, he's had scripts optioned and he's been approached by various networks and magazines. Long and short, he's pretty good at this whole screenwriting thing. Now, that's usually enough to warrant us doing an interview, but in this case, there was something else that really piqued our interest. He's currently working on a project called "Swords of the Dead" and, quite frankly, we want to know more. We had the chance to discuss that project and more here... definitely worth the read, folks!

Tell us about the concept behind Swords of the Dead, what’s it all about and where did the idea come from?

I used to do some publicity work for several martial artists. Also studied a little off and on. Learned just enough to be dangerous – to myself.

A couple of years ago, maybe longer, I was brainstorming for screenplay ideas. I wanted something in a genre that already had a good following that was fun to write.

Martial arts and horror usually do well, so I thought about combining them. But then, I had to decide what kind of horror, what kind of monsters would the martial artists have to fight?

Vampires never seem to die and werewolves shed on the carpets, so I decided to use zombies. But zombies are often unarmed, sometimes literally because they tend to lose body parts, so I decided to give them weapons. And so Ninja Zombies were born, uh, un-deaded?

The story is about a guy named Mike Striker who is hired by a beautiful mystery woman to kill Ninja Zombies that have invaded her town. He puts together a crew of misfit martial artists to help him destroy the zombies.

It has good characters and dialogue, humor, romance, lots of marital arts action and, of course, Ninja Zombies. Sorry world, but somebody had to unleash them on you.

What’s your ultimate goal for Swords of the Dead?

My manager in LA, Blair Silver, thinks Swords of the Dead could become a franchise, like Friday the 13th, complete with action figures, graphic novels and trading cards, etc., so that is where I would like to see it go.

What stage are you at with the project now and talk a bit about how you got to this stage.

The script was finished last year. Showed it to an internationally-known martial artist who has done feature films and TV. He loved it. Don't think I should mention his name at this stage.

The graphic novel version of the screenplay is in progress. It's being serialized now on Facebook. People can find it here

I believe that you don't have to belong to Facebook in order to view the page.

Blair and I are shopping the script now.

Readers should know that you’re an accomplished screenwriter. So, tell us, what makes a good horror story?

I think many of the best horror stories touch our primal fears – the dark, things that go bump in the night, the fear of being eaten, childhood fears, creepy-crawly things, Death, with a capital D.

In zombie stories, the Dead are coming after the characters. The fact that the zombies are rotting themselves, reinforces the concept of Death chasing people.

In my own case, I still recall the terror I felt growing up with frequent zombie outbreaks in the neighborhood. Didn't help the property values either.

Psychological terror can be scarier than physical danger. A prime example of that is The Exorcist. In the original version of The Haunting we never see a ghost, but we experience their effects in other, terrifying, ways.

Also, the best horror stories have characters that we care about. We root for them to survive. Too many horror films are just about the body count. The characters are often one-dimensional.

AMC's The Walking Dead has great characters. We really do root for them. It's as much a drama as it is a horror story. Nice job.

The script is being made into a graphic novel. How did that come about and what’s your reasoning behind doing that?

That was Blair's idea. Through the years he had observed the growing trend to make movies from comic books and graphic novels.

Now, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get in to indie horror and film?

I always loved horror films as a kid. I was responsible as a child, so when my parents would go out to dinner or something, they trusted me to be by myself. I would watch the schlocky horror flics on TV and then be too scared to go to sleep until they got home.

Max Perrier, asked me to do the original script for his award-winning indie film The Ante. I was finishing a book and didn't have time, so he hired another writer.

When the script was finished, Max was unhappy with it. By then, I was freed up. He asked me to do a re-write. I changed about 90% of the original script. It's a story about a man falsely accused of murder. For example, in the original, his wife was loving and supportive. I decided to create more conflict by turning her into a greedy harpy. That set the plot off in a new direction. I created a lot more plot twists and punched up the dialogue, also adding some humor from time to time.

"The Ante" got a great review in Variety and so far has shown in nine film festivals in North America and Europe.

I wrote several more of my own scripts, one of which a producer for Lifetime network was very interested in. But it was a period piece, which made it more expensive, and she was unable to get funding.

A couple of my other scripts have been optioned.

A few months ago, a production company hired me to adapt the true story book "Under the Overpass" for the big screen. It's about two college students who wanted to understand how to better help the homeless by becoming homeless themselves in several U.S. cities. For five months they slept on the streets, panhandled and ate from garbage cans. I've been told that Random house bought the original publisher of the book and is releasing a new edition this month.

The film is in development.

Film school: yes or no?

No. Took a couple workshops, read a several screenwriting books, watched a lot of movies.

Talk about the indie horror scene, where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

I'm not an expert on the indie horror scene, but I think it is going to continue to get better, especially with production costs coming down because of digital cameras. Shooting with film and the cost of developing it was a big barrier to indies. In addition, the Internet has opened up more avenues for distribution, which has been a problem for indies.

And zombies continue to grow in popularity, which is good for me – and the zombies.

Where can we find out more about you, your projects and, most importantly, "Swords of the Dead"?

One important note about Swords of the Dead fan page. Anyone who becomes a fan has the chance to become a Ninja Zombie in the graphic novel. We're going to pick one person at random for that honor.

My website is called Turn Your Book into a Movie

Facebook fan page

Twitter handle is @swordsofthedead

My email, in case you want to hire me, is dkaus@sbcglobal.net

Are there any other projects in the works?

I was recently hired by two authors to adapt their books. One is a true story and the other is a novel.

I'm also working on some of my own scripts.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Horror Out on DVD this Week - Nov 9, 2010

I'll warn you, there's lots of rereleases, double packs and special editions this week and only a few of them are notable, but I'm diligent. I'll go through them. First up, there are rereleases of a few so-called classics, including: "Coma", "Haunting" and "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" and, really, let's be honest. None of them are true classics... maybe "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane", 1962's tale of harsh sibling rivalry starring Bette Davis. However, it's dated and it would be tough to sit through. Instead of picking one of those up, you should get the modern classic, "Tremors", now available on Blu-ray. There are a few collections available, including: "Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XIX [Limited Edition]" and "Puppet Master Collection", may I recommend the "Puppet Master" collection, the Charles Band classics? Then, there's the double packs: "Gingerdead Man / Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust" and "Evil Bong / Evil Bong 2 King Bong". Spanish films anyone? Check out "Amar a Morir", "Esquizofrenia" or "Miedo Hasta Los Huesos". You can click on any of those titles to read more about them on their Amazon page, but I'm not going to bother getting in to more detail. I'll go in to a bit more depth on the new releases, which include: "Mark of the Damned" - the double disc danger pack, "The Brazen Bull" and "Dead Enders". You can go to our Youtube Page to check out the trailers.

"Mark of the Damned" actually came out in 2006 and was originally shown on Cinema Insomnia's 2009 Halloween special. It's directed by Eric Miller and it looks like it was produced by his friends and family. It looks outstanding and it's shot entirely in black and white as an homage to the classic El Santo films. If you're interested, El Santo was a Mexican wrestler in the '40's and '50's that crossed over in to film and basically played the same part, over and over again... a superhero fighting supernatural creatures, evil scientists, criminals, secret agents, aliens... whatever. I'm very interested in checking this out...

The cover art for "The Brazen Bull" may make it look like it's from the 70's, but it's not... it's from 2010 and it stars Michael Madsen, Jennifer Tisdale and Rachel Hunter and it also looks pretty f'ing good. The trailer is loaded with gore. It's definitely low-budget by Hollywood standards, coming in with a budget of approximately $1Million, but it looks great. The film is set in "the bowels of an iconic derelict LA high-rise" and it's about a madman, played by Madsen, who "brings a heaping helping of sanity and jet-black humor to the crazy table."

Unfortunately, I can't find out too much about "Dead Enders", although it looks like it could be a great micro-budget film. It's written and directed by Paul C. Hemmes and Megadeth's David Ellefson contributed to the soundtrack... the budget's low, probably around $10K, and it's about a disturbed woman that kidnaps and brutalizes those she believes to be the living successor of her long dead "one true love".